Nvidia, Asus focus on cheap, powerful tablets

Nvidia attempted to wow the unwashed at CES by showing off tablets which work on its GPU chips.

It was showing off an Asus 7-inch tablet with a quad-core processor and Android 4.0 for $249 and a demo of a Tegra 3 tablet running Windows 8.

CEO Jen-Hsun Huang carefully avoided mentioning the upcoming 28nm Kepler GPUs. We expected him to say something because AMD will ship its first Radeon 7000 series GPUs this week.

Instead he was more interested in showing off his new tablets.

While many manufactures are starting to think that tablets are a waste of time, Huang still sees dollar signs in the fact that tablets are the fastest-growing consumer electronics device in history.

He insisted that rather than it being an Apple thing, like the iPod, it is a category which will continue to grow into a large industry.

He said that just as people have a lot of choice in cars, there will be a lot of choice in tablets as well.

Huang said the problem was that when Apple rivals released the first Android tablets, the market became fragmented. Honeycomb essentially became an ecosystem of its own.

Android 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich, has now solved that problem delivering one Android for all types of devices, he claimed.

Asus CEO Jerry Shen came onto the stage and showed off the new 7-inch tablet with Tegra 3 and Ice Cream Sandwich, which he said will be priced at $249. This could give the Amazon Fire a run for its money. Those products do not offer the same performance or features.

Huang mentioned that Nvidia has been working on the Tegra 3’s companion core for longer battery life and PRISM display technology that preserves colour while dimming the backlight to save battery life.

Nvidia has also developed something called DirectTouch, which does the analog-to-digital conversion of touch input directly in the processor, rather than in a separate touch controller that costs more and consumes power. DirectTouch can also process three times the number of samples per second of a separate touch controller.

Huang said that Windows 8 will bring in a golden age of mobile devices and Microsoft’s Aidan Marcuss gave a demo of a Tegra 3 developer platform running the latest build of Windows 8.