Nvidia already makes its own handheld gaming device, Shield, and speculation has been circulating that the graphics technology vendor also has been working on a small, low-cost, 7-inch tablet that could come complete with a stylus.
Now rumors are that Nvidia also is looking to build a high-end tablet that would run Google’s Android OS and be powered by the company’s upcoming next-generation Tegra 5 mobile processor, dubbed “Logan.” The news site Fudzilla, citing “European-based sources,” said the tablet would come under the Nvidia brand, similar to what the company is doing with the Shield console.
Nvidia officials have declined to comment on the rumors.
A high-end tablet would only be the latest move by Nvidia, which like others in the industry is being impacted by the worldwide decline in PC sales. It’s also swimming in highly competitive waters. Intel and Advanced Micro Devices continue to improve the integrated graphics capabilities of their x86-based mobile processors, and while Nvidia leverages ARM’s system-on-a-chip (SoC) design, that puts it into competition with the likes of Samsung and Qualcomm.
Nvidia, through its Tegra lineup, is pushing its own SoC with integrated graphics—its own Kepler GPUs—but the competition is fierce. The company launched Shield last month, and now reportedly is looking at two branded tablets. In the high end, the company would have to compete with the likes of Apple’s popular iPad.
The lower price 7-inch tablet would also run Android and be powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 4 SoC.
Having its own branded hardware would give Nvidia another avenue for selling its chips, but it also puts it in competition with its OEM customers, a dicey proposition that would follow in the footsteps of such companies as Microsoft, which last year came out with its own Windows-running tablet, the Surface.
In addition, Nvidia officials announced in June that the company will begin licensing its graphics technology—in a fashion similar to what ARM and Imagination Technologies do—in an effort to expand its reach into such computing devices as smartphones, tablets, game consoles and high-definition screens.
Nvidia isn’t the only chip maker selling its own mobile devices. Intel has begun selling Intel Education Tablets in 7- and 10-inch models, each running Android and powered by Intel’s low-power Atom chips.