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Handhelds Hardware

NVIDIA Enters the Mobile CPU Market 97

Vigile writes "NVIDIA just announced the new Tegra line, a complete system architecture on one chip. Built around a licensed x86 ARM 11 CPU, this tiny chip (smaller than a US dime) includes a processor, memory controller, southbridge, and 3D and video processors. The SoC design is meant to give iPhone-type devices a more impressive visual experiences while maintaining idle power consumption under 100 mW. While not a direct competitor to Intel's Atom or VIA's Nano processors, the NVIDIA Tegra will no doubt push the envelope in handhelds and cement NVIDIA's place in the world of computing going forward."
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NVIDIA Enters the Mobile CPU Market

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  • Not x86 (Score:5, Informative)

    by zsazsa ( 141679 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @09:36PM (#23646511) Homepage
    The article summary is wrong or has a typo or something. This is not on some weird hybrid x86/ARM platform; it's just ARM.
  • by DrunkenTerror ( 561616 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @09:40PM (#23646531) Homepage Journal
    Ars had a good article about it []

    Stupid lameness filter.
  • Dupe (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hektor_Troy ( 262592 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @09:42PM (#23646541)
    We had the exact same thing yesterday []
  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gmail.BOHRcom minus physicist> on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @09:49PM (#23646591) Homepage Journal

    Obviously Windows is never going to happen, this being an ARM core [...] you'd be hard pressed to argue that Windows CE is better for anything resembling a real computer.
    Some versions of Windows Mobile were designed to run on a form factor called Handheld PC [], which was in essence a Pocket PC with a bigger screen and a keyboard. Can you demonstrate a problem with building a subnotebook around such a platform, especially now that the XO and Eee have stimulated the low-end subnotebook market?

    (I'd love to see a laptop built around something of this sort)
    This northern summer, the Pandora PDA [] comes out. If you like handheld computers, you might want to check it out.
  • Please not WinCE (Score:4, Informative)

    by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @09:54PM (#23646621)
    Linux and ARM are great partners. There are probably more ARM Linux systems than x86 Linux systems (if you count all those ARM Linux cell phones as systems).

    The only valid reason to design in x86 these days is to run Windows. ARM is lower wattage and cheaper. Once you look at whole systems costs (battery etc) ARM comes out streets ahead. Most OSS can be readily redeployed on ARM. There is even an ARM Ubuntu.

    WinCE is a very limited architecture and has no support for SMP etc. It is basically a toy version of Windows.

  • Re:OoO ?? (Score:5, Informative)

    by klingens ( 147173 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:19PM (#23646815)
    Out of Order execution
  • Re:WinCE... (Score:4, Informative)

    by rbanffy ( 584143 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:26PM (#23646843) Homepage Journal
    With its power envelope and die size, they could put 8-way multi-processing and some vectorized FPUs before they hit either Atom's die size or power consumption ;-)

    Seriously, with Via making a complete reference design freely available, what could stop someone from making a compatible motherboard that could fit in the place intended for a VIA-based motherboard?

    The Eee shows that any processor that can drive a web browser and an e-mail program can be the core of a successful sub-notebook. In NVidia's shoes, I would invest a decent amount of money to make sure Gnash runs fine on it and is as compatible with Flash as compatibility can be.

    I would love to see a small sub-notebook with a fast multi-core, multi-threaded, ARM-based CPU, an XO-derived widescreen display, an iPod-class HDD and a battery that could power it all for 24 hours of continued abuse.

    And I bet it could be done for peanuts, which means a huge profit margin beyond the wildest dreams of the commodity PC-compatible market.

    Of course, I assume someone from Microsoft mentioned casually to someone at NVidia, perhaps during golf, that they could consider dropping some NVidia support on an upcoming Vista service pack if those Linux-running small CPUs start making inroads in the undead XP camp.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:28PM (#23646855)
    More details on Tegra can be found here, including chip arch: []
  • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:29PM (#23646859) Journal
    The point is that the EEE has sold many, many units running Linux. This demonstrates that people are prepared to accept Linux and therefore x86 is unnecessary since Linux does not require it.

    Linux being OK implies that x86 is unnecessary.

  • I don't think so. (Score:5, Informative)

    by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:37PM (#23646925)
    I've been a WinCE OS-level developer for quite a few years (since 1.0) and currently have the low level dev tools for WinCE6 on a PC.

    No SMP in sight, not even in the emulator. If you know differently, I'd like to know.

  • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @10:48PM (#23647027)
    We have a multi-hundred MHz ARM in a cell phone/PDA these days, with a display controller and a bunch of peripherals built in to the same chip. That's enough to do an EEEPC - perhaps using q bit more RAM than is standard in a phone.

    If you were really keen you could stuff a few extra 1x2inch ARM cards in the box and have a Beowulf cluster in a sub-laptop box.

    The sub-notebook is nothing new. I have an old Psion7 ( that must be 6 or seven years old now. It was a bit slow, but only had a 100MHz StrongARM CPU. A re-jig with a modern 600MHz+ ARM would fly!

  • by FrankDrebin ( 238464 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @11:29PM (#23647243) Homepage
    Umm, last I looked XScale was an ARM (core).
  • Re:WinCE... (Score:4, Informative)

    by GreyWolf3000 ( 468618 ) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @11:54PM (#23647399) Journal

    To support a CPU is not enough. ARM cpu cores will typically connect to an AMBA bus (like hypertransport), but these SoCs will usually have the entire bus internal. You'll have a whole set of peripherals which need to be programmed all over again with little or no code reuse from existing projects. You need to understand how these peripherals interact with the boot rom and CPU in order just to load a bootloader onto it. If you have perfect documentation, you'll still probably need at least a decent oscilloscope or logic analyzer to get a heartbeat out of it. Talk to any firmware or digital design engineer about 'board bring up' on an unproven cpu platform, and you'll likely hear quite a few nasty anecdotes.

    All this can be done, but it would save everyone a lot of time if nvidia supports Linux with a real board support package.

  • by RiotingPacifist ( 1228016 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:20AM (#23648907)
    Given that I spent my day battling a Linux x86_64 I doubt that non-x86 architectures are widely used by end users. Just because Linux runs on non x86 in no way means people are willing to support/use/accept it on anything else.

    Being open source does mean that the code can be ported, doesn't guarantee it will compile & be stable on all architectures. Even in the kernel non-x86 is generally 1-2 kernel releases behind before new features are properly supported and there's a lot more to an OS than the kernel.
  • Re:I don't think so. (Score:4, Informative)

    by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:46AM (#23649303)
    Most mobile devices run several ARM cores. Usually they are arranged as peripherals to the main CPU rather than working together as an SMP system. Typically the baseband (the bit that handles commincation with the cellular network) will have its own CPU in all but the lowest end devices, and increasingly graphics/video/audio processing is offloaded to a specialised chip. Nvidia are pulling this all into a single package, just as Marvell have with the PXA320, and TI have with several of their OMAP processors. In a typical configuration, it will appear as a single core to WinCE, so SMP support will not be needed, as the other cores are being used for specialised processing rather than as general CPUs. The PSP does something similar with its dual core MIPS processor.

The absent ones are always at fault.