NVIDIA is up for a rough year

Subject: General Tech | February 16, 2012 - 12:45 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, 28nm, TSMC, kepler, tegra, tegra 3

If you caught the podcast last night you would have heard Josh discussing NVIDIA's year end financial conference call, otherwise you will have to wait until the 'cast is posted later this week.  Until then you can read SemiAccurate's take on the call here.  There is a lot of news about NVIDIA and none of it is good, from wafer yields to chip demand nothing seems to have gone right for them.  Attempting to move off of their cursed 40nm line and switching to 28nm, NVIDIA has run into big yield problems as in entire wafers having issues as opposed to just some dies being bad.  

Tegra is not doing so well either, with sales of Tegra 2 dropping as we approach the release of Tegra 3, which is getting a lot of bad press.  SemiAccurate refers to the chip as bloated in size as well as being downright expensive to make.  Combine that with the fact that NVIDIA is lagging on A15 adoption and Samsung and Apple turning their backs on Tegra and it doesn't look good for NVIDIA's mobile plans. The one ray of sunshine is that even combined Samsung and Apple do not account for even half of smartphones on the market, so there is still room for NVIDIA and Tegra to grow.

Tegra3_Chip.jpg

"Nvidia seems to be so far ahead of the curve that they are experiencing problems that are unique in the industry. In their recent year end financial conference call, there was enough said to draw some very grim conclusions.

Today’s conference call was a near complete validation of all the things SemiAccurate has been saying about Nvidia. Remember when we asked if Nvidia could supply Apple? Anyone notice the part about dumping early 28nm capacity, and the disappearance of 28nm Fermi shrinks? Remember how 28nm was not an issue for Nvidia, even if their product roadmap slips said otherwise. How well does this mesh with the quotes from Jen-Hsun himself on the topic?"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: SemiAccurate

LG X3 Android 4 Smartphone With Quad Core CPU May Debut at Mobile World Congress 2012

Subject: Mobile | January 20, 2012 - 08:00 PM |
Tagged: tegra, quad core, lg x3, LG, ics, android 4.0, Android

This year's Mobile World Congress in Spain is going to be an interesting one from a smartphone hardware perspective, especially if recent rumors hold true. If you thought a dual core Snapdragon chip delivered a speedy experience, LG has something to blow your mind: The LG X3 is a smartphone that is rumored to have a quad core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor!

LG_X3_Leak-470-75.jpg

The alleged LG X3 phone

The article quotes Pocketnow in detailing the less than 9mm thick LG X3's specifications which include the above-mentioned Tegra 3 Soc, an 8 megapixel rear camera, 1.3 megapixel front camera, a HSPA 21 "4G" network cellular radio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, microSD slot, and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. This hardware will be put to good use in powering the phones 4.7" display with a resolution of 1280 x 720. Further, a massive 2,000 mAh (milli-amp-hour) battery will provide the quad core SoC and huge display the power they need. Though with these kind of specs, under heavy use, don't expect miracles even with such a large battery. The last big of leaked information on the phone indicates that it will be running the Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" mobile operating system (OS). Our own Matt Smith has a review of the Android 4.0 OS (running on the Transformer Prime) for your reading pleasure on the site now.

A quad core SoC (System on a Chip) in a phone... I just can't get past that; here I was thinking my 1.2 GHz single core Snapdragon processor was speedy. Before I even got my hands on a dual core phone, they are already packing them with quad cores!

Source: Pocketnow

LucidLogix Announces XLR8 Tech To Improve Embedded and SoC GPU Performance

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 11, 2012 - 03:48 AM |
Tagged: virtualization, tegra, Lucidlogix, gpu, gaming, game, embedded, CES2012, CES

Earlier today Lucid (LucidLogix), the company behind quite a few GPU virtualization technologies, announced yet another piece of GPU virtualization software. This time; however, instead of wrangling as much performance as possible from multi-GPU beasts, this technology- codenamed "XLR8"- is aimed at the mobile market of tablets, smartphones, and laptops with integrated graphics. Such products are powered by integrated GPUs in AMD's APUs and Intel's Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors, and by the GPUs in mobile SoCs (system on a chip) like Nvidia's Tegra and ARM's Mali graphics processors. XLR8 uses "unique CPU multithreading" to feed the mobile GPUs as efficiently as possible.

xlr8_tablet.png

According to Lucid, many of the PC graphics issues are magnified when it comes to embedded GPUS including visual tearing, pipeline inefficiencies, power management, and artifacting. Offir Remez, president of Lucid further stated that most of the big, popular PC games have playability issues on mobile platforms and on computers with integrated graphics. "If it's got a GPU, we can improve the end user experience."

The company further expanded that the XLR8 technology works by disabling unnecessary and redundant processes in addition to "unique multithreading" to improve system (gaming) responsiveness up to 200 percent. The XLR8 software monitors battery drain and power draw while shutting down background processes to increase CPU frame generation and minimizing redundant GPU rendering processes.

If this sounds a lot like marketing speak, it certainly does. On the other hand, Lucid has been able to push some useful virtualization technology into desktops, so maybe mobile platforms are just the next step for the company. The company is currently demonstrating the XLR8 software in private at CES and is being tested by hardware partners.  Mobile SoC are getting faster and more powerful, and on battery powered devices there is always room for efficiency improvements.  Once reviewers manage to get their hands on some actual hardware, and XLR8 is past the concept/testing stage you can bet that people will have a better understanding of what exactly XLR8 is capable of.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Qualcomm Licensing PowerVR Display Intellectual Property Technology

Subject: Mobile | December 16, 2011 - 06:00 AM |
Tagged: tegra, SoC, qualcomm, PowerVR, mobile, Android, adreno

Quite a few mobile device manufacturers are implementing graphics processors and image processors based on Imagination Technologies’ PowerVR technology. Popular licensees of Imagination Technologies PowerVR core patents include Intel, LG, Samsung, Sony, and Texas Instruments (a big one in regards to number of SoCs using PowerVR techs for mobile phones).

qualcomm_and_PowerVR.png

Interestingly, Qualcomm is not currently licensing the graphics processor portfolio that man other mobile OEMs license. Rather, Qualcomm is licensing the PowerVR display patents. The intellectual property features the PowerVR de-interlacing cores and de-judder purposed FRC (Frame Rate Conversion) core. The de-interlacing core(s) can do either “motion adaptive (MA) or motion compensated (MC) de-interlacing” as well as a few other algorithms to deliver smooth graphics. Further, the FRC cores take 24 FPS (frames per second) source material and outputs it as either 120 Hz or 240 Hz while applying image processing to keep the video looking smooth to the eye. The method for grabbing and extrapolating “extra” frames to take a 24 FPS video and display it on an LCD screen that refreshes at 120 Hz by displaying each one of those 24 frames five times every second involves a bit of math and algorithmic magic; a simplistic explanation can be read here.

It will be interesting to see how Qualcomm applies the image processing technology to their future SoCs (system on a chip) to entice manufacturers into going with them instead of competition like Texas Instruments or Nvidia’s Tegra chips. The Verge speculates that this Qualcomm and Imagination Technologies deal may be just the first step towards Qualcomm licensing more PowerVR tech (possibly) including the GPU portfolio. Whether Qualcomm will ditch their Adreno GPUs remains to be seen. If I had to guess, the SoC maker will invest in more PowerVR IP, but they will not completely abandon their Adreno graphics. Rather, they will continue developing next generation Adreno graphics for use in their SoCs while also integrating the useful and superior aspects of PowerVR graphics and display technologies. Another option may be to develop and sell both platforms (possibly with one being high end competition to Tegra and the other being for the rest of phones as competition to other low end, low power chips) to hedge their bets into the future of mobile SoCs which is a rapidly advancing industry where change and what is considered the top tech happens quickly.

Source: The Verge

NVIDIA Reports Q3 2012 Results

Subject: Editorial | November 16, 2011 - 09:08 PM |
Tagged: tesla, tegra, Results, Q3 2012, nvidia, income, fermi

Late last week NVIDIA reported their Q3 2012 (they have an unconventional reporting calendar), and the results were overwhelmingly positive for the once struggling company.  Throughout 2010 NVIDIA struggled with the poor results of their 400 series of graphics cards as compared to the relative smooth sailing that AMD had going into the DirectX 11 marketplace.  NVIDIA was also struggling to get the original Tegra to be accepted by the marketplace, which never occurred with that particular generation of products.

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NVIDIA reported gross revenues of $1.07 billion for the previous quarter, with a net income (GAAP) of $178.3 million.  Margins improved to a respectable 52.5%, which is generally considered high for a fabless semiconductor company.  When we compare these results to AMD which had reported earnings a few weeks ago, we see that while NVIDIA had less revenue (AMD reported $1.7 billion) the company had nearly double the overall profit (AMD reported around $97 million).  AMD has a strong CPU business, which is something that NVIDIA is working on.  AMD reported margins in the 45% range, but they also have a larger workforce and larger capital expenditures at this time.

Read the rest of the article here.

Source: NVIDIA

Podcast #178 - EVGA GTX 560 Ti 2Win, a Puget Systems silent HTPC, Tegra 3 and more!

Subject: Editorial | November 10, 2011 - 04:39 PM |
Tagged: tegra 3, tegra, ram, Puget, podcast, nvidia, maingear, Intel, gtx560 ti, evga, corsair, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #178 - 11/10/2011

Join us this week as we talk about the EVGA GTX 560 Ti 2Win, a Puget Systems silent HTPC, Tegra 3 and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malvantano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:09:50

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:29 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:02:55 EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti 2Win
  6. 0:13:25 SilverStone Strider Gold
  7. 0:17:00 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  8. 0:18:00 Puget System Serenity Core i5 HTPC Review
  9. 0:28:05 Samsung Infuse 4G Delivery
  10. 0:31:20 Tegra 3 and Asus Transformer Prime
  11. 0:42:30 Maingear Epic 180 Cooler
  12. 0:49:20 64 GB Corsair DDR3 
  13. 0:51:30 Asus 3 Board 900 Series Review
  14. 1:00:00 Ryan pretends to make a difference.
  15. 1:02:40 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Jeremy: Quick defroster
    2. Josh: Nice musics!  http://www.amazon.com/Greatest-Video-Music-Amazon-Bonus/dp/B005WV6ZI8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1320891616&sr=8-1
    3. Allyn: mp3tag
  16. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  17. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  18. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  19. Closing

Source:

ASUS Unveils the Prime, the World's First Quad-Core Android Tablet

Subject: Mobile | November 9, 2011 - 01:00 AM |
Tagged: tegra 3, tegra, tablet, quad-core, kal-el, eee pad, asus, Android

eeepadprime1.jpg

ASUS Eee Pad Prime

Rumors have been swirling around the ASUS Prime tablet and dock, successors to the popular ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, for months. Today, many of those rumors can rest, as ASUS has taken the wraps off the tablet's official specifications. 

The big story for enthusiasts is the tablet’s NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor. Provided that the product makes its anticipated December release (the exact date has yet to be announced), this will be the first tablet to hit the market with Tegra 3 as well as the first Android tablet to sport a quad-core.  You can read some more details that Ryan discussed about Tegra 3 and its five (5?!?) cores, by checking out this post from September.

kalel1.png

NVIDIA Kal-El / Tegra 3 Processor

As the follow-up to the Transformer, the Prime offers many of the same features including the keyboard dock. However, the Prime is improved across the board. The tablet is just 8.3 millimeters thin, making it the thinnest tablet on the market (the next thinnest is the 8.6mm Galaxy Tab 10.1, while the iPad 2 is 8.8mm). Weight has been reduced to 586 grams (1.29 lbs), down from 680. The rear-facing camera now sports an 8MP sensor, the battery in both the tablet and the optional dock is slightly larger, and base storage is now 32GB, with a 64GB model available as an optional upgrade. Even the display has been improved via a new brightness enhancement function that promises to make the tablet easier to use in sunlight.

eeepadprimespecs.jpg

Even the design has been upgraded. Unlike the Transformer, which has a plastic back, the Prime has a “spun metallic” finish. It will be available in amethyst gray and champagne gold.  

The battery tests from ASUS put the Prime at 12 hours of life on its own and 18 hours with the keyboard dock while playing back 720p video with all ports enabled and the screen brightness at 60 nits. 

Despite all of these improvements, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer will not be going away. In fact, it will be remaining at its current price. Instead, the Prime is entering the market as a “premium” product built to compete directly with the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1. The base Prime model with 32GBs of storage is $499, while the 64GB model is $599. As with the original, purchasing the optional keyboard dock will set you back another $149.

transformerprime.jpg

ASUS claims that the Prime will in fact ship with Android 3.2 in its initial release with an over-the-air updated to 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) as soon as it has been "optimized, tested and approved".  They weren't willing to put a date or time frame on that release but they are planning on using the 4.0 OS revision at the launch event coming in December; that seems to indicate to us we may have it in time for CES in January 2012. 

When PC Perspective reviewed the Transformer, I called it “the best Android tablet on the market today.” The thinner, lighter, more powerful Prime should be a significant improvement to an already excellent product. My only concerns were with the dock itself, which was sometimes finicky and added a fair amount of bulk. It’ll be interesting to see if the Prime can address those concerns.

PR ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime front Amethyst Gray.jpg

Source: ASUS
Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA
Tagged: vsmp, tegra, nvidia, kal-el

Kal-El Tegra SoC to use 5 cores

Recent news from NVIDIA has unveiled some interesting new technical details about the upcoming Kal-El ARM-based Tegra SoC.  While we have known for some time that this chip would include a quad-core processor and would likely be the first ARM-based quad-core part on the market, NVIDIA's Matt Wuebbling spilled the beans on a new technology called "Variable SMP" (vSMP) and a fifth core on the die.

kalel1.png

An updated diagram shows the fifth "companion" core - Courtesy NVIDIA

This patented technology allows the upcoming Tegra processor to address a couple of key issues that affect smartphones and tablets: standby power consumption and manufacturing process deviations.  Even though all five of the cores on Kal-El are going to be based on the ARM Cortex A9 design they will have very different power characteristics due to variations in the TSMC 40nm process technology that builds them.  Typical of most foundries and process technologies, TSMC has both a "high performance" and a "low power" derivative of the 40nm technology usually aimed at different projects.  The higher performing variation will run at faster clock speeds but will also have more transistor leakages thus increasing overall power consumption.  The low power option does just the opposite: lowers the frequency ceiling while using less power at idle and usage states.  

kalel2.png

CPU power and performance curves - Courtesy NVIDIA

NVIDIA's answer to this dilemma is to have both - a single A9 core built on the low power transistors and quad A9s built on the higher performing transistors.  The result is the diagram you saw at the top of this story with a quad-core SoC with a single ARM-based "companion."  NVIDIA is calling this strategy Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing and using some integrated hardware tricks it is able to switch between operating on the lower power core OR one to four of the higher power cores.  The low power process will support operating frequencies up to only 500 MHz while the high speed process transistors will be able to hit well above 1-1.2 GHz. 

Keep reading for more on the 5-core quad-core Kal-El SoC from NVIDIA!!

AMD is out and ARM is in for several major notebook vendors

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 22, 2011 - 12:05 PM |
Tagged: arm, amd, texas instruments, snapdragon, amazon, tegra

It is not just AMD which is forging a new relationship with ARM, which we saw evidence of during the AMD Fusion Developer Summit, several other manufacturers are making good on previous statements made while waiting for AMD, and are going to be selling ARM based notebooks.  These companies are not on the fringe of the market, these are major vendors like ASUS which are releasing quad-core ARM based notebooks which will use SnapDragon, Tegra or TI for the graphics portion.  DigiTimes has the scoop here, as well as news on a tablet which will be released by Amazon running an unspecified TI processor which we should see by August.

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"Several vendors, including Samsung Electronics, Toshiba, Acer and Asustek Computer, plan to develop ARM architecture notebooks, with products possibly to be launched as early as the end of 2011, according to industry sources.

The sources pointed out that ARM-based systems using Android were already launched under the smartbook name two years ago with Toshiba and Lenovo both launching products in the retail channel. However, due to weaker than expected demand, the related products were soon phased out of the market.

Since ARM's CPU has already been upgraded from single-core two years ago to quad-core with a significant increase in performance, while the platform's storage capacity has also seen significant improvements, and an enhanced user interface, ARM is already capable of launching notebook products that are able to run for a long period of time, and if the price is attractive, there is a great chance for the products to create a brand new market segment in the IT industry.

Asustek has already made plans to launch a 13-inch ARM-based notebook adopting Nvidia's processor with Android.

The sources pointed out that there are already several brand vendors reportedly set to launch ARM-based notebooks with prices lower than US$299 to compete for market share and the vendors' processor choices include Nvidia's Tegra, Qualcomm's Snapdragon and processors from Texas Instruments."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

NVIDIA’s Kal-El Enables Realistic Physics and Dynamic Lighting For Mobile Devices

Subject: Mobile | May 30, 2011 - 12:26 AM |
Tagged: tegra, nvidia, mobile, cpu

NVIDIA recently unveiled a new four core CPU for mobile devices at Mobile World Congress which promises to power 2560x1600, 300 DPI displays as well as enable realistic dynamic lighting and physics in mobile games, features that until recently were only possible in the realm of gaming laptops and desktops.

The quad core ARM CPU has been paired with a new 12 core GeForce graphics processing unit. The CPU alone is able to outperform the older Tegra 2 chip by close to 2x. With the additional GPU cores; however, NVIDIA has even more performance, and the ability to implement great looking games for mobile tablets and so called “super phones.”

Coremark Tegra Kal-El Test.jpg

At a resolution of 1280x800 (according to Engadget), the new Kal-El graphics demo shows off a new game featuring a glowing ball that acts as a truly dynamic light source in addition to realistic cloth physics. Using all four processing cores of the CPU allowed NVIDIA to implement cloth that reacts to the changing gravity of the game in a dynamic- and very realistic looking- manner. The mobile chip saw approximately 80% usage across all cores during the game demo. When NVIDIA disabled two of the CPU cores, the game became nearly unplayable, with the two remaining cores maxed out, the demo’s frame rate dropped to below 15 frames per second.

The new “Tegra Super Chip” will certainly allow mobile game developers to design immersive and realistic looking worlds as well as enhancing consumers’ ability to watch 1080p HD video with ease. The only drawback of the chip seems to be that battery technology is much slower to advance than transistor technology; therefore, it will be interesting to see how the new NVIDIA chip performs in that regard.

Source: NVIDIA