CES-Nvidia unveils new Tegra chip, ups mobile game

LAS VEGAS Mon Jan 7, 2013 1:18am EST

LAS VEGAS Jan 6 (Reuters) - Chipmaker Nvidia showed off its newest Tegra mobile processor, its next step in its expansion into tablets and smartphones and also unveiled a new hand-held game device.

The Tegra 4 chip, with four central processing cores, will be Nvidia's first to include LTE technology for high-speed telecommunication networks, Chief Executive Jen-Hsun Huang said at a press conference in Las Vegas on Sunday ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show.

He also introduced a new hand-held gaming device with a Tegra 4 chip and a built-in screen. Nvidia plans to sell it directly to consumers, an unusual move for the chipmaker.

The device, which he referred to as Project Shield, runs Android games currently found on smartphones and tablets and can also stream video games from PCs.

"Everything you do with your Android device just works here," Huang said. "This is the culmination of five years of work."

With PC sales suffering due to economic uncertainty and a growing consumer preference for tablets, Nvidia has staked its future on leveraging its graphics expertise to make high-performance processors for mobile devices.

Huang did not say when the Tegra 4 chips or hand-held game devices would be available.

The company has made inroads in tablets but competition from larger rival Qualcomm has some on Wall Street concerned the company may struggle to keep its mobile business growing fast. Qualcomm already offers 4G technology in its chips.

Huang said Nvidia's new Tegra chip boasts improved image processing capabilities for digital cameras in phones and tablets. Huang also said the Tegra 4 chip lets tablets load web pages more quickly than devices using rival chips.

Nvidia's previous Tegra 3 mobile processor is used in Google's Nexus 7, one of only a handful of tablets to make inroads against Apple's iPads. The Tegra 3 chip is also used in Microsoft's recently launched Surface tablet.

At the event, Huang also introduced a cloud product called the Nvidia Grid, a server and software package designed to remotely handle graphics computations for video games instead of on consoles like the Xbox in game-players' living rooms.

He said Nvidia would sell the Nvidia Grid packages to companies interested in hosting and streaming cloud-based video games.

"The Nvidia Grid is our first fully integrated system product," Huang said.

In November, Nvidia forecast revenue below expectations due to a slowdown in tablet-processor shipments and a troubled PC market, but shares of the graphics chipmaker rose on the announcement of a quarterly dividend.

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