After the failing to get smartphone vendors interested in Tegra, Nvidia’s CEO says he sees a future for the SoC in automobiles and set-top gaming boxes.
We can blame MediaTek for Nvidia’s “performance oriented” Tegra SoC never catching on. That’s the view of Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, who in an interview last month with Cnet, offered a rare candid view of why Nvidia is virtually pulling out of the smartphone and tablet market.
“The mainstream phone market commoditized so fast that really the…differentiators were price. And you can see the pressure that MediaTek is putting on Qualcomm, and you can see the pressure that MediaTek is putting on Marvell and Broadcom and all of these companies,” Huang told Cnet’s Shara Tibken. “We learned a lot in the process. But there are many things in our company that didn’t pan out. That’s OK. If you want to be an innovative company, you have to fail.”
But Huang said that he sees a future for Tegra in high-end gaming-oriented mobile devices. If a vendor wants to build the “Porsche” of the tablet or phone world, they will go with an Nvidia Tegra chip. Huang mentions Xiaomi, as the fast growing Chinese vendor chose to use a Tegra SoC in its well reviewed Xiaomi Mi Pad released earlier this year.
Tegra came into this world with alot of momentum. The Tegra 3 SoC — arguably the most balanced of the lot in terms of performance and power draw — found a big win in the Nexus 7, but Tegra was passed in favour of Qualcomm for the tablet’s followup.
But this isn’t the end for Tegra. It will live on in the world of set-top boxes and in-car entertainment systems. In January at the Consumer Electronics Show, Huang was highlighting Nvidia’s collaboration with luxury automakers as the future of the platform. But this is a niche market and cannot, at its peak, ship as much in volume as smartphones could have. With the PC graphics market stagnant, Nvidia needs to find a way to make this work now that mobile is no longer an option.