CES 2011: NVIDIA Talks Tegra 2 and Outs "Project Denver" SoC

A little earlier today, in a jam packed meeting room in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, we spent about an hour listening to NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang speak about the massive influx of mobile computing devices over the last few years and NVIDIA’s plans to better infiltrate the burgeoning market moving forward. During his address, Mr. Huang spoke almost exclusively about the company’s Tegra 2 processor and its capabilities and performance, although he also dropped a bombshell to close his talk about NVIDIA’s “Project Denver”—more on that one in a bit.

While discussing the mobile computing space, NVIDIA’s CEO stated that Tegra 2 will usher in the era of the “Super Phone”; which is essentially a smart phone with increased performance and extensive multimedia capabilities that include full 1080P video playback, the complete Internet, and “console like” gaming. Throughout his talk, Jen-Hsun explained that Tegra 2, which features dual ARM processor cores and GeForce graphics on a single SoC, will offer end users the kind of performance necessary to experience the full internet with true hardware accelerated Adobe Flash, enough processing performance for snappy multi-tasking, and the gaming chops to play not only casual portable games but more graphics intensive apps, including MMORPGs and other on-line games.

NVIDIA Demos The LG Optimus 2X "Superphone"

NVIDIA’s CEO brought out a number of guest speakers during his address, including folks from a few game developers, Adobe, Verizon, Skype, and LG. Unfortunately, due to the sheer number of geeks sapping all of the Wi-Fi / 3G bandwidth in Las Vegas, a number of Jen-Hsun’s demos couldn’t be completed. We did get to see LG’s Tegra 2-based Optimus 2X “super phone” playing a handful of games, though, and also got a tour of its interface and a few widgets running on the device. We captured some video from the event, which does a decent job of showing off a few of the device’s capabilities, its form factor, etc.

Battery life wasn’t mentioned and we’re still not certain of LG plans (in any) to bring the Optimus 2X to the US market, but it was clear from the live demo that the Optimus 2X is very high performing device in light of the current crop of smart phones. The Optimus 2X handled true-1080P video playback, output to an HD TV, without a hitch.

Tegra 2 Cross Platform Gaming Action Demo

An assortment of games all performed flawlessly with smooth framerates and surprisingly good image quality (from a phone) as well and the device had no trouble loading Flash within its browser while accessing the WSJ website, although the lack or bandwidth did prevent the ads from loading on the site. The lack of reliable internet connectivity at the event also prevented a demo between Jen-Hsun and Skype, which was reportedly going to show HD video conferencing on a Tegra 2 powered tablet that was unfortunately not shown.

After extolling the virtues of Tegra 2 and thanking the myriad of partners who have worked with NVIDIA on the Tegra 2, Jen-Hsun Huang hastily dropped the big news that the rumors that have been swirling the last few years about NVIDIA developing their own processor have been true. The processor, which was developed under the codename “Project Denver”, however, is not x86, but rather a custom designed, high-performing ARM core that will target the HPC space. In its current form, ARM processor cores are used in a vast array of devices from mobile phones, to tablets, to set to boxes. But the low-power ARM architecture hasn’t been geared for the HPC space. NVIDIA aims to change that by pairing their custom core with a GPU on a single SoC. There weren’t many hard details disclosed, but we’re sure more news will trickle out over the coming months.

Jen-Hsun Announces Project Denver CPU

Microsoft’s announcement earlier today that the next version of Windows will support next-gen System on a Chip (SoC) architectures from Intel, AMD, ARM and others means that with NVIDIA’s Project Denver chip, the company may finally be able to offer systems powered by NVIDIA hardware from top to bottom, but we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves. There’s still a lot that has to happen before NVIDIA gets to that point. But what we do know is that Tegra 2 is finally gaining more traction in the mobile space and NVIDIA is working on a high-performance ARM-based CPU core. Interesting and exciting stuff to say the least.