Quad-core tablets powered by Nvidia's Tegra processor are coming this fall, with quad-core phones expected early next year, according to the company.
The quad-core Tegra, also known as Kal-El, is the first step in a three-pronged strategy to ensure Nvidia's next-generation chips are deployed in the widest possible range of devices, said Nvidia Chief Executive Officer Jen-Hsun Huang. The new Tegra began sampling to gadget manufacturers earlier this summer.
Though Apple's iPad currently controls the lion's share of the global tablet market, Nvidia's dual-core Tegra chips are found in 70 percent of all non-Apple tablets, which Huang said collectively account for a 30 percent share of the market. "The number of tablets we have in the market [featuring Tegra chips] is 13 and growing every day," Huang told financial analysts Tuesday.
The second prong of Nvidia's strategy is to leverage its acquisition of Icera to include 3G/4G modems with its Tegra chips, while the third prong is to develop a chip specifically optimized for Windows 8, Huang told investors.
Nvidia acquired Icera in a $367 million deal that closed last June. Prior to the acquisition, Icera spent $500 million in the development of 3G/4G modems integrating software-defined radios.
"The investments that we are making right now are going to help open a billion-unit market, including PCs, tablets and mainstream smartphones," Huang said.
A Smartphone Superchip
Android is the mobile platform on which Nvidia's dual-core Tegra has been gaining the most traction. Last June, however, Nvidia began offering OEMs the two main processors used in all smartphones -- an applications processor and the baseband processor.
According to Nvidia Senior Vice President Phil Carmack, the combined offering of a Tegra chip with Icera's 3G/4G modem is expected to open up the $15 billion global market for baseband processors to Nvidia.
"Joining [Icera's 3G/4G modem] with our Tegra mobile superchip will result in a powerful combination," Carmack wrote in a blog. "In short, we can scale Icera's great innovation."
Among other things, Icera's programmable baseband processor architecture will enable Nvidia's OEM customers to innovate and adapt signaling algorithms in the rapidly evolving mobile telecommunications market, Carmack said.
"Network responsiveness is critical to delivering on the promise of untethered wireless visual computing," Carmack said. "Icera's highly efficient architecture makes it possible to cleanly integrate their baseband processor into system and software platforms rapidly and, ultimately, into the superchip itself."
Nvidia's long-term strategy includes the development of a single tiny chip that integrates Icera's 3G/4G modem with the company's Tegra processor, according to Huang. The combined offering is expected to help smartphone manufacturers improve their time to market while delivering the core essentials required by next-generation mobile computing devices.
Looking To Windows 8
The third prong of the company's long-term growth strategy is squarely aimed at new platforms running Microsoft's coming Windows 8 operating system. Nvidia is developing a next-generation Kal-El Plus offering that will be designed with Microsoft's next-generation Windows 8 operating system specifically in mind.
Among other things, the Kal-El Plus is destined for deployment in clamshell notebooks as well as in mobile handsets and media tablets equipped with processors based on the ARM architecture.
"The Windows 8, Windows on ARM, coming out toward the end of next year, or the year thereafter, is going to be a growth opportunity for us," Huang predicted. "And Windows Phone is going to be a growth opportunity for us."