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?
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.
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.
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.