“This is a big deal,” said NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang when I asked him about what Tegra 2 meant for Android at last month’s GTC event.
He actually said a lot more (see video after the jump), but his point was that NVIDIA is the first computer technology company to move into mobile devices and their Tegra 2 superphones and tablets will be computer-centric first instead of phone-centric.
Jen-Hsun must be a very persuasive guy because it appears he convinced the powers at Google to adopt his dual-core Tegra 2 processor as the lead platform for Android tablets running Honeycomb (Android 3.0). We are eagerly waiting for CES in January when these gadgets are expected to be announced, but virtually every Honeycomb device that has been leaked is rumored to include the Tegra 2 processor.
Other dual-core processors are coming soon, but we haven’t heard of any that are planned for the Honeycomb launch. All signs point to the Verizon MOTOPAD as the current flagship product for Honeycomb, Google’s version of Android for tablets.
So how did Jen-Hsun and NVIDIA beat out the likes of Qualcomm, Samsung and Texas Instruments to get the jump on the first Honeycomb tablets? And why are mobile developers designing their new Android games exclusively for Tegra 2? I honestly can’t say for sure, but it’s obvious these guys must know something we don’t and that’s what I want to find out.
Some people have accused me of over-hyping Tegra 2 (because I’ve written so many articles), but it’s still the most exciting story in the mobile industry because so many people have written off NVIDIA and are thinking they can’t compete with Qualcomm (or Intel when they finally get moving).
In last week’s Q3 earnings call, Jen-Hsun continued to hint about the Tegra 2 devices coming in early Q1. “They have to be absolutely groundbreaking or why would anybody come to buy them.” He went on to admit they were late in arriving, but placed some of the blame on Google for the time it took to get Honeycomb ready. “So, I think that the extra time that was necessary to build these devices and build the operating system and all the applications and the system software necessary to do it, but they are going to be absolutely magical.”
Even more surprising, NVIDIA thinks their Tegra revenue will cross over and actually become larger than their chipset business in Q1 2011. Jen-Hsun said, “Our tablet business and our phone business is going to ramp, and it’s going to ramp hard. So, we just have to build some of the best things we’ve ever built, and so I think Q1 is when all of you will see what we have been so busy working on, and I think you will be more than surprised and delighted.”
Clearly, Jen-Hsun is really excited about the tablet revolution he thinks is coming soon. “Every single company I know is working on a tablet. I don’t remember the last time in the history of computing where a singular device is being worked on by all of the industries. This is a revolutionary form factor and I think it’s a (foregone) conclusion this is going to be probably be the largest computing segment.”
Jen-Hsun even gave a shout-out to his new best friend Google and the work Andy Rubin’s team has been doing on Honeycomb. “Andy Rubin and his team are working 24×7 and they are doing amazing work and I am just really, really delighted that we decided to focus and not spare it on current generation operating systems. So I think when you see it near future it will more than delight you. I think you’ll be shocked how wonderful it is.”
When an analyst referred to Honeycomb as an “operating system update”, Jen-Hsun replied, “To call the next generation devices an operating system update would really be an understatement I think, and it would do injustice to the amount of engineering that has gone into building the next-generation of tablets.”
“You won’t recognize it, let me just put it that way. What the team is shooting for is nothing short of a great experience and so I have every confidence in the team. We’re going to make sure we build something absolutely, absolutely magical.”
So like he said in the beginning – “This is a big deal.” In seven weeks at CES, we will finally find out if he is right.
[Post image via NVIDIA press room]