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CES 2010: nVidia Details Tegra 2 Tech & Tablets

Andy Vandervell


CES 2010: nVidia Details Tegra 2 Tech & Tablets

nVidia has a lot riding on Tegra 2 and it looks to have delivered handsomely. CEO Jen-Hsun Huang looked effusive as he declared 2010 "the year of the tablet" and while I'm not totally convinced of that just yet, nVidia demonstrated that if anything is going to make such devices a success, it'll be Tegra 2.

Let's deal with the headline figures first. nVidia reckons Tegra 2 is four times faster than its predecessor, itself no slouch, without increasing power consumption one iota. This allows for up to 120 hours of music playback and an astonishing 16 hours of HD video (up to 1080p) playback. nVidia also reported that Adobe would be porting its AIR platform to Tegra, while Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, joined the green team to show Unreal Engine 3 running on Tegra 2. All very impressive stuff, but what's behind it?

An ICD tablet concept plays 1080p video flawlessly.

To achieve all this Tegra 2 employs no less than eight processor cores. Kicking things off is the dual-core ARM Cortex A9 CPU, which runs at up to 1GHz. This is joined by an extra ARM 7 CPU, HD video decoding and encoding chips, an image processor, an audio chip and the GPU. This allows Tegra 2 to cope with all the rich media that we love to consume, including HD flash video and gaming as well.

There are Tegra powered concepts from several manufacturers, including MSI, Asus and Archos.

Currently nVidia is actively targeting smartbooks, tablets and smartphones, but it also introduced Mathias Halliger, Chief Architect of MMI (man machine interface) Infotainment Systems at Audi. He demonstrated the Audi A8 and its Tegra powered infotainment features, adding that in the future all Audis would use Tegra chips.

In future all Audi cars will have infotainments systems powered by Tegra.

As a general rule I've yet to be convinced that smartbook, slates, tablets – whatever you choose to call them – are mass market products waiting explode. One thing is for sure, though; with Tegra 2 no one will be able to blame the hardware responsible for any failure. nVidia has knocked it out the park.


Tegra Product Page

Hamish Campbell

January 8, 2010, 1:47 pm

err... ok I get the ARM 9 and the HD chips and audio and video and what not...but they just whacked in another ARM7 cpu for a laugh or what? Emergency backup?


January 8, 2010, 3:49 pm

@haim - It's very common do that and has been done for quite a while. The low power (and low performance) ARM7 core is there to handle rather mundane tasks for which the Cortex-A9 cores would be a bit overkill. The ARM7 core is used to do chip management, things like dataflow, power management, the processing needed to do phone calls and other similar tasks.

This has been done for quite some time, even Qualcomm's MSM7200 chip has an ARM7 core on it to do such tasks. The same goes for Snapdragon and NVIDIA's previous Tegra chip.

Niraj Goyal

January 8, 2010, 6:04 pm

If interested there is quite a nice overview of the chipset by Anand Lal Shimpi at: http://www.anandtech.com/gadge...

He seems rather enthusiastic! :)

Hamish Campbell

January 8, 2010, 6:04 pm

@Helmore - cheers, makes sense now.


January 11, 2010, 3:15 pm

MS need to make this the mininium requirment for windows mobile 7. That would be amazing


January 19, 2011, 4:47 pm

Hey! Can anyone here help me to find info about the architecture of the AUDI MMI? What kind of hardware are they using for the Mobile Internet Connection? What kind of antennas, processors and receivers? Thanks!

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