Nvidia looks to Windows 7, 'Tegra' for growth

Nvidia is looking to its Tegra chip for growth and Windows 7 for new opportunities.

Nvidia is looking to its Tegra chip for growth and Windows 7 for new opportunities.

Speaking during the company's earnings conference call Thursday, Nvidia Chief Executive Jen-Hsun Huang said one the company's biggest opportunities is graphics-specific applications on Windows 7. (Nvidia earnings summary here.)

Huang waxed enthusiastic about a technology he called "DirectX Compute"--which taps into the hundreds of processors inside many of today's graphics processors. "Finally it's possible to do video editing...that's not excruciating," he said. "This is going to be one of the major usage models for Windows 7," he said.

Nvidia also released a statement Thursday about DirectX Compute, saying it will boost the "speed and responsiveness" of Windows 7. This is analogous to what Apple and Nvidia have been saying about graphics on Apple's upcoming Snow Leopard operating system.

Huang also made it very clear that Tegra is a big part of Nvidia's future. Tegra is a system-on-a-chip that integrates an ARM applications processor and Nvidia's GeForce graphics silicon, among other functions. The goal is to bring robust PC-like graphics to small devices.

"Of all the products in our company, Tegra long term has the largest TAM (Total Available Market)," Huang said. "We've been investing in Tegra for about four years...There's 500 people working on Tegra."

Huang said--referring to Tegra--that Nvidia has built a "computer completely from scratch that's the size of a penny" that delivers a full high-definition experience and "consumes less than one watt." He added that this is the second computing revolution and "we want to be all over it."

Huang also talked about Nvidia's Ion platform. When Ion was launched in December of last year, the emphasis was initially on boosting graphics performance on Intel Atom-based Netbooks. But Huang said Thursday that Ion applies broadly to any products that use its 9400M GeForce chipset, such as Apple's MacBooks. The bulk of Nvidia Ion chipset revenue is coming from Apple, he said.

In related news, Nvidia released Windows 7 graphics drivers on Thursday, in conjunction with the release candidate of Windows 7. The Nvidia Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL)-certified graphics driver for PC desktops and notebooks is available for its Ion, GeForce, and Quadro products. (Like a number of hardware makers, Nvidia had issues with it Vista drivers.)

Nvidia cited performance testing on Windows 7 at technology Web site Anandtech, which said that "performance was rock solid and the compatibility/stability aspects of the driver far exceeded our expectations."

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