Nvidia to put new Tegra, Ion chips in production

Tegra chips will reach netbooks and mobile Internet devices in Q1, smartphones in Q2

Nvidia is set to launch its new Tegra chips that should go into devices like netbooks and smartphones early next year, a company executive said.

The company will make a "major announcement" around the Tegra family of chips, said Michael Hara, senior vice president of investor relations at Nvidia at the Barclays Capital Global Technology conference last week. "It's highly possible you'll see some very interesting form factors come out at the same time shown by our partners using the next Tegra device," he said in a recording of the event.

The company is also launching the next-generation Ion graphics chip in the first half of next year, which pairs Intel's Atom chip with a GeForce graphics core to deliver full 1080p graphics capabilities in netbooks.

"There's a new Ion coming in the first part of the year and a new Tegra," Hara said. "We're now going into production on everything and the only question is how we roll it out," Hara said

There will be a roll-out of devices like mobile Internet devices, tablets and netbooks based on the next Tegra processor throughout the first half of next year, Hara added. Smartphones with Tegra chips will come out in the second half, he said. Smartphone sales are usually larger in volume, which should impact Tegra sales and the company's revenue.

An Nvidia spokesman declined to comment further on the announcement, saying the company didn't talk about unannounced products. However, it's possible the company will introduce its new line of Tegra chips.

Nvidia has already said it plans to start producing the next-generation Tegra chips in 2010. They will have twice the number of processor cores while also extending battery life. The company has also said it plans incremental advances for the chip every year that quadruples the performance of chips in the existing lineup.

Known primarily as a graphics card vendor, Nvidia's intention behind Tegra chips is to bring advanced graphics capabilities and always-on Internet access to mobile devices while drawing less power. Tegra chips put an Arm-based processor core, a GeForce graphics core and other components on a single chip the size of a penny. The current product lineup includes the Tegra 600 running at 700MHz and Tegra 650 running at 800MHz. It also includes Tegra APX 2500 and APX 2600.

The company began shipping its first Tegra chips earlier this year. Tegra powers devices including Microsoft's Zune HD and Samsung's M1.

Sumner Lemon in Singapore contributed to this story.

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