NVIDIA launches Tegra, hopes to change the smartphone / MID game

NVIDIA is launching a full-frontal assault on Intel, its burgeoning MID market, and smartphone makers with its forthcoming "mobile computer on a chip" architecture, dubbed Tegra. We've shown you snippets of what this would look like before, but plans are now well underway to take this technology mainstream, with numerous partnerships, and products planned for Q4 2008 and Q1 / Q2 2009. We had a chat with the company, and we've got a slew of info about the chips and their intended products after the break.

Update: We've added some videos from World Mobile Congress showing off the UI.

  • The Tegra line will be all-in-one, integrated systems on a chip, containing an 800MHz ARM CPU, GeForce GPU, image processor, HD video processor, and controllers for all other aspects of core operations (memory, USB ports, communication) -- in a package about the size of a dime.

  • The range will come in two varieties to start -- the Tegra 600 and the Tegra 650. Both chips can run games like Quake 3 with full filters and anti-aliasing at rates of more than 40 FPS, and will support 1080p HDMI, WSXGA+ LCD or CRT, and NTSC/PAL TV outs.

  • Products will be built atop Windows CE or Windows Mobile, though the company isn't ruling out other operating systems, like Android.

  • The chipset is 1/10th the size of Intel's Atom and is ultra-low power. A single charge can allow the user to run audio for 130 hours or HD video for up to 30 hours.

  • The first Tegra systems will be handhelds or small laptops with screens ranging in size from 4-inches to 12-inches, with QWERTY or touchscreen interfaces, as well as WiFi and possibly 3G connectivity.

  • Starting prices for the initial devices will range from $199 to $249.

  • The demo we saw of the NVIDIA UI is an actual interface that the company is seeding to developers. It takes advantage of the Tegra's GPU and is quite fast (videos of the UI running on the APX 2500 below).

  • NVIDIA is giving both an SDK for that UI and hardware development kit to partners, and encouraging them to utilize the custom chipset of the Tegra for user interface design and functionality.

  • The chipmaker expects to see media players, MIDs, and GPS units using the chipset by the end of 2008, with ODM smartphones in Q1 2009.