Nvidia Confirms Quad-Core Tablets Arriving This Year

Nvidia president and chief executive officer Jen-Hsun Huang has confirmed to Forbes that Google tablets running its third-generation, quad-core Tegra 3 SoC ("Kal-El") will indeed be available this year, perhaps before Christmas. This will reportedly put Nvidia ahead of rival Qualcomm who isn't expected to ship a similar chip until the end of the year.

The confirmation took place after speaking to a roundtable of reporters on Tuesday. Huang wasn't quite as definitive about Kal-El's penetration into the smarphone market, indicating that tablets may be the only Tegra 3-based devices launching this year despite previous predictions of a 2011 release. Qualcomm and Texas Instruments expect products with their quad-core chips to be available on the market early next year.

The new Tegra 3-powered tablets were originally slated for a summer release, but according to Huang, manufacturers are taking their time "getting the industrial design as wonderful as possible, and some of it is related to tuning and performance." The lackluster sales of non-Apple tablets is also partially to blame for the delay, as manufacturers are struggling to match the iPad's battery life and overall price while using dual-core SoCs. Incorporating a more-expensive quad-core chip will only make things worse.

Reports circulating on Thursday revealed that Microsoft plans to showcase a Samsung tablet sporting Windows 8 next week during the BUILD developers' conference. While the nature of the device's processor is unknown, it's speculated that the device will be powered by Nvidia's Tegra 3 "Kal-El" processor. Huang already admitted that a number of Windows 8 tablets are slated to use the third-generation SoC, and that Microsoft's new OS will be able to run applications developed for the Windows Phone 7 platform. This cross-platform feature may actually be demonstrated next week.

Huang said on Tuesday that Nvidia already claims 70-percent of the Android tablet market which makes up 30-percent of the overall tablet sector. The company's Android smartphone share is lower, hovering around 50-percent. But that latter number should change in the years to come, as Nvidia is expected to ship 1 billion mobile processors a year by 2015.

"We’ll be very pleased if we can be a sizable player in the mainstream phone market," Huang said.