Despite Delays, NVIDIA Building Momentum Around Tegra-Powered Devices

Roughly 13 months ago, we wrote a story discussing the importance of Tegra to NVIDIA's future and why the company has devoted so much time and money to it. Just over a year later, NVIDIA has affirmed that Tegra remains an essential part of its future business model, while tacitly admitting that the number of Tegra/Tegra 2 devices on the market hasn't ramped as aggressively as the company had hoped.

When we pressed for details on why Tegra 2 had largely fizzled after its impressive debut at CES last year, company reps told us it wasn't a manufacturing issue or a problem with any part of Tegra 2's silicon. Instead, NV noted that mobile products tend to have long lead times (the new ARM Cortex A-15 we discussed earlier this month won't actually be selling for several years). The delays NVIDIA has run into have been related to the complexity of working with new partners interested in building cutting-edge devices.

There's been quite a bit of discussion as to whether or not Boxee's recent decision to abandon Tegra 2 in favor of Intel's CE4100 was an early warning sign on Tegra 2's capabilities, but Team Green's representatives assured us that's not the case. The reason NV and Boxee parted company ultimately had more to do with the capabilities and functions Boxee wanted to integrate. Since it's a set-top box instead of a mobile device, Boxee also had considerably more leeway to consider other low-power solutions—Tegra, at this point, targets devices with a power consumption around one watt; a limit Boxee wasn't constrained by.

LG's upcoming Optimus series will use Tegra technology.
Speaking of Intel, we inquired as to whether or not Intel's Atom had begun swirling the competitive waters, but we were told it hasn't. This isn't entirely surprising; Intel's Atom will need to widely launch on 32nm before it can even begin to mount a challenge in the mobile space, but we were surprised to hear the CPU manufacturer isn't aggressively courting manufacturers now with starry-eyed promises of what Moorestown will be capable of delivering in the future.

Details on exactly which Tegra devices will drop through the end of the year weren't forthcoming. All NV would say to this point is that there are going to be at least a handful of 'interesting' announcements through the end of the year. We've already heard about Tegra 2 powered devices from HTC, LG and ViewSonic, as well as rumors that Dell's Streak 7 will use Tegra 2—it may have taken a little while, but Tegra appears to be gaining momentum. If some or all of these take off, NV could find itself with a fair chunk of market space by the time Tegra 3 becomes available. We're still optimistic about Tegra 2's ability to win market share, despite some delays in bringing products to market—the playing field is still wide open.