June 18, 2009 at 4:32 pm
Google’s Android operating system has been getting all of the column inches and hype relating to an eventual transition to netbooks and smartbooks. However, Nvidia feels that Windows CE is the more mature platform, as things stand, for Tegra-based smartbooks.
The Tegra platform is different to ION in that it pairs an ARM-based processor with an Nvidia GeForce GPU (ION pairs an Intel Atom CPU with the Nvidia 9400M graphics). Nvidia certainly has high hopes for the Tegra platform, with its CEO Jen-Hsun Huang predicting that Tegra will benefit from higher margins than its existing products and could contribute as much as half of Nvidia’s revenues within a few years.
Android currently has a “rough user interface”, Mike Rayfield, general manager for Nvidia’s mobile business unit told Computerworld. Rayfield said that it would probably be 12 months before Android really delivers on its promise for smartbooks. It is currently working on accelerating the platform, as all of the video and graphics rendering is done by the operating systems JAVA code, which is too slow for HD video.
“There’s no hardware acceleration. It’s all software,” Rayfield said. “Everyone’s talking about Android for cell phones, but the reality doesn’t exist for the larger displays [of a smartbook.]”
Rayfield also dug the knife in other netbook-focused Linux OSes. “The world soundly rejected the first netbooks that came out with Linux,” he said. “Printers didn’t work, and devices didn’t get recognized. The whole thing was a mess.”
Nvidia is prioritising work on Windows CE as it “is a rock-solid operating system that has been shipped billions of times,” said Rayfield. It also has a “low memory footprint and a good collection of apps.” Nvidia is also looking to improve the video and game performance on Windows Mobile.
He also gave an indication as to what expect for future versions of Tegra. Tegra 2, due early 2010, will be four times as powerful as the current version, whilst Tegra 3, planned for 2011, will improve performance ten-fold over the current Tegra platform.