Back at Nvidia’s GPU technology conference we had a chance to talk to Depu Talla, the GM of Nvidia's Tegra business unit, and back then we learned that Nvidia was more about performance market phones rather than mainstream or commodity phones.
Nvidia says commodity phones simply happened too fast. Jen-Hsun Huang, the CEO of Nvidia admits the mainstream phone market simply evolved too quickly and commoditized in a heartbeat. Nvidia did try to get some of the design wins with its Tegra 4i chip and so far got the design win from Wiko and LG G2 mini in Latin America. That is all that we heard so far and the fact that the chip comes with a mediocre A9 core doesn’t help either. It does have LTE, but that is practically its only advantage over some competitors, as GPU muscle does not make much of a difference in this segment.
The big issue is that Qualcomm has bunch of mainstream or entry level chips that can support LTE, too, including Snapdragon 200 and 400 designs.
Tegra K1 64 bit Denver is coming
There is no clear statement from Nvidia on future mainstream parts. The company is not saying that it won't make a Tegra 5i or Tegra K1i, but we do know that Tegra K1 and Tegra K1 64 bit aka Denver will get into some phones.
The main issue is that Tegra K1 32 bit and 64 bit need Icera 500 modem to enable LTE and 3G communications making it potentially more expensive than Snapdragon 800 generation.
In addition, the sheer lack of information on a potential T4i successor is not encouraging.
Mediatek is gaining power
As we predicated Mediatek is putting a lot of pressure on entry level market and players like Marvell and Broadcom, but also on Nvidia and Qualcomm. Meditek is gaining a lot of market share and popularity, especially in China. It is hard to go after that segment. Nvidia always wanted to be the part of the “Porsche” of the tablet or phone world and you would need to have a high-end part to fight against Snapdragon 800-series chips.
Nvidia did well with the Xaomi Mi Pad, a Tegra K1-based tablet that has a good chance in China. The 2048x1546 display screen, $240 price, 2GB RAM and iPad mini looks should be a winning combination for this mass market tablet with a tempting price tag.
Nvidia is working on its own tablet, the rumoured Shield tablet and that one will come with Tegra K1 processor and possibly even the 64-bit version of the chip codenamed Denver. We expect to see this tablet rather soon and we would not be surprised that Nvidia might win some big design wins in the future, including the next Nexus tablet. Amazon’s Kindle Fire line-up is up for grabs, too.
Jen-Hsun doesn’t forget to mention that car industry is quite a big win for Nvidia and despite the fact that it offers limited volumes, the infotainment niche also offers better margins than the mainstream SoC market.
One can draw parallels - automotive is to Tegra what Quadro is to Geforce.