Nvidia Wants Tegra System-on-Chip to Power Netbooks

Nvidia Aims Ultra Cheap Computers with Tegra

by Anton Shilov
01/09/2009 | 06:44 PM

Nvidia Corp., one of the world’s leading designer of high-performance graphics processors, said at a news-conference at Consumer Electronics Show 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada, that it was working with some partners over Nvidia Tegra chip-based netbooks that would cost $99 and above.


“I see Tegra [netbooks] at $99 [to] $199,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive officer of Nvidia Corp., adding that Tegra-based netbooks could be less than a year away from introduction, reports IDG News Service agency.

Currently Nvidia offers its GeForce 9400M-based Ion platform for Intel Atom processors, which power the vast majority of netbooks, to manufacturers, however, none of them seem to be interested since the core-logic consumes too much power and requires expensive DDR3 memory.

Nvidia Tegra 600-series SoCs features ARM11 central processing unit core, GeForce graphics core with programmable pixel shader and programmable vertex shader support, build-in low-power DDR memory controller, NAND flash memory controller, high-definition video processor that supports MPEG 4, H.264, VC-1/WMV9 decoding, H.264 and MPEG4 encoding and features some other capabilities. Besides, Tegra 600 and Tegra 650 support two displays, 12MPixel camera sensor, USB, Parallel ATA a variety of display outputs, including HDMI, as well as other necessary interfaces.

Nvidia has always positioned Tegra as a solution for high-end handsets and mobile Internet devices, however, now that the company needs something to address the growing market of netbooks, it is trying to push the product into that direction. Unfortunately, Tegra 600-based netbooks will be even less attractive than Atom-based solutions: ARM11 processor does not support Windows XP/Vista/7 operating systems, whereas all the advanced features of the DirectX 9-class GeForce core will hardly be needed on a very low-end Linux machine.

A couple of years ago Nvidia said it was not interested in core-logic sets for very entry-level computers because of the low profit margin on that market. However, during the tough times Nvidia has to reconsider its priorities.