Nvidia did not announce any new products at Computex this week, but it nonetheless had a very high profile at the show notching wins for both Tegra mobile chips and the latest GeForce GPUs.
Several new tablets using its Tegra 4 processor were announced at or just before the show including the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity, HP SlateBook x2 and two Toshiba Excite tablets. Nvidia’s Matt Wuebbling said to expect more Tegra 4 tablet announcements as well as some high-end smartphones later this year. The other Tegra 4 device at the show was a production version of the Nvidia Shield, a unique handheld gaming device that also runs standard Android apps and content from the Google Play store. It will ship by the end of this month.
Nvidia was also demonstrating its Tegra 4i, a mid-range processor with an integrated 4G LTE modem. Last month at CTIA Wireless Nvidia first showed the Phoenix smartphone reference platform with the Tegra 4i running on AT&T’s 4G LTE network. The company also demonstrated it operating on an LTE, Category 4 test network, which will be 50 percent faster, to illustrate the capabilities of the Software Defined Radio (SDR). The first Tegra 4i smartphones will be available in early 2014.
The next family of SoCs, code-named Logan, will also arrive in 2014. These will be the first Tegras to include a version of its full Kepler GPU for personal computers. At the opposite end of the roadmap Tegra 3 is still finding its way into low-cost devices. Hisense just launched a 7-inch tablet, the Sero 7 Pro, with the 1.3GHz Tegra 3 quad core processor that sells for $149 at Walmart.
Nvidia continues to work on features like DirectTouch and its Chimera computational photography that can take advantage of all this CPU and GPU performance, and lower manufacturing costs by eliminating some components. The latest example is DirectStylus, which lets you draw lines of varying widths with a basic, passive stylus. This should reduce power and potentially eliminate some components, though Nvidia isn’t discussing details yet.
Microsoft’s announcement that it will now include Outlook--along with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote--on Windows RT devices could also be big for Nvidia. It had high hopes for the Microsoft Surface RT, which uses Tegra 3, but has been disappointed by slow sales. Earlier this year, at Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang pleaded with Microsoft to add Outlook. But Nvidia will also have more competition for Windows RT devices. At Computex Qualcomm was demonstrating how its Snapdragon 800 has been optimized for Windows RT 8.1 and talking up its collaboration with Microsoft.
Right before Computex started, Nvidia announced its latest high-end mobile GPU family, the GeForce GTX 700M family. At the show several companies announced new gaming laptops combining Intel’s fourth-generation Core processor (Haswell) and GeForce GTX 700M GPUs including Acer, Asus, Gigabyte, MSI and Razer. Tablets and hybrid devices get all the press, but apparently there’s still some demand for good old-fashioned laptops.