NVIDIA, ASUS Shipping First ICS Tablet Today, Teasing 7-inch Tegra 3 Tablet

We weren’t sure what to expect from NVIDIA’s press event at CES, but the big news turned out to be that ASUS is shipping the world’s first Ice Cream Sandwich tablet--starting today--an ASUS Transformer Prime, which boasts the NVIDIA Tegra 3 chip.

NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang took the stage and hosted an impressive demonstration of the new Transformer Prime, including gorgeous movie playback from Fandango, real-time photo editing with Snapseed, multiplayer FPS gameplay over a LAN, and remote PC access through Splashtop THD. (The latter included a smokin’ hot demo of Skyrim being played via Steam via Splashtop THD.)

NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang


Then, he announced that the Tegra 3-based ASUS Transformer Prime with Ice Cream Sandwich starts shipping today.

Although there’s no official name for some reason and no ship date for it, Huang and ASUS CEO Jerry Shen showed off a 7-inch tablet, which sports a lot of the same specs as the Transformer Prime--including a Tegra 3 chip, great camera and sound, Ice Cream Sandwich, and so on--and will retail for $249.

NVIDIA also demoed some of its other technologies, including PRISM, which dynamically adjusts backlight levels and color to achieve a great picture while consuming less power, and DirectTouch, which significantly boosts the sample rate for touch input by leveraging the fifth companion core in Tegra 3. With DirectTouch, sample rates went from about 80 samples a second with 10 finger input to over 200 samples a second.


Huang shared the stage with a Microsoft Executive who demoed and discussed Windows 8. Some of the premier features of Windows 8 (which will apparently launch in 200 markets) will be connected standby, which keeps the device connected and up to date even when in standby mode; a picture password that requires a series of swipes and gestures on specific parts of a photo to unlock the device; and the Windows app store. Microsoft will only claim a 20% fee, leaving 80% to the app devs, and enterprises will be able to easily customize app deployments on Windows 8 devices.

Finally, Huang briefly mentioned the car industry and its growing integration of mobile technology, teasing an announcement coming in the near future regarding NVIDIA technology and car maker Audi and noting that the Tesla Model S and a Lamborghini model already have Tegra chips inside.

If you were expecting a desktop GPU announcement, too bad--the Tegra 3 was the star of the show so far. We do have meetings with NVIDIA at which we hope to hear more about their GPU plans, for both desktop and mobile applications.