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Nvidia talks mobile platform and its increasing development costs

Nvidia reveals current trends in the mobile CPU market and challenges when developing future mobile chips

Of all the Android mobile chipmakers currently in the market, Nvidia may have made the biggest splash with the Tegra platform for tablets as well as for high-end smartphones. Nvidia president Jen-Hsun Huang discusses the challenges of developing a mobile CPU and what the future of Tegra holds during the AsiaD conference as reported by

In Huang’s vision, he sees development costs for future mobile platforms skyrocketing as expectations grow exponentially. “Our challenge is to create something surprising every generation,” Huang said in the AsiaD interview. This is one of the reasons why the company has already invested $2 billion on the ongoing development of the Tegra platform.

Currently, one of the biggest obstacles holding back even more powerful processors from entering the market is the limited amount of battery power. To build chips with lower energy requirements, yet have higher performance levels, is where much of the challenge lies.

This reasoning explains the decision to add a recently revealed low-power fifth core into the Kal-El chipset. This allows the more power-hungry quad-core CPU to be active only when the most demanding tasks are running. It’s expected that future Tegra platforms, which will all be codenamed after superheroes, will carry on the low-power peripheral core for energy efficiency purposes.

Beyond the additional core, Nvidia has also been able to save energy by “cheating” on display colors. According to AllthingsD, the chipmaker uses an image-processing technique to identify the color makeup of a given image, only to display a slightly different color that uses less energy than the original color. The human eye would not be able to tell the difference, the source claims.

The AsiaD conference is currently taking place in Hong Kong, lasting for 3 days from October 19th to October 21st.


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Allen Ngo, 2011-10-23 (Update: 2012-05-26)