Nvidia Details Tegra Note Tablet Design That Runs Android

The 7-inch architecture will feature Nvidia’s Tegra 4 SoC and give partners a tablet reference design to build on.

Nvidia, which is pushing more into hardware design, as evidenced by the release of its Shield handheld gaming device, is unveiling a tablet platform powered by its Tegra 4 mobile chip and which will be sold by a range of partners.

Nvidia on Sept. 18 unveiled the 7-inch reference architecture, which embodies Nvidia technology from the hardware to the software to the industrial design, and is aimed at giving partners a platform they can build on and sell under their own brand. This is similar to what Nvidia has done with Project Kai, a reference design for low-cost tablets powered by the company's Tegra 3 ARM-based system-on-a-chip.

Google used that reference design for its Nexus 7 tablet. However, the latest design—Tegra Note—is different, according to Matt Wuebbling, director of product marketing for Tegra at Nvidia.

"It's a complete tablet platform, designed by Nvidia and brought to market by our partners," Wuebbling wrote in a post on Nvidia's blog. "Tegra Note takes this to the next level by delivering a complete platform, not just the hardware."

It's not unusual for chip makers to create reference architectures featuring their processor offerings as a way of encouraging system makers to adopt their technology. For example, Intel has done this in a range of areas, from Ultrabooks to networking systems to its Rack-Scale Architecture initiative.

Nvidia demonstrated an early version of Tegra Note—then called Tegra Tab—at Computex in June. The Android-based Tegra Note tablet platform will benefit both the vendor and its partners, according to Wuebbling.

"It elevates the abilities of our partners, so they can provide tablets packed with innovation and features at prices they may not have been able to deliver on their own," he wrote. "In turn, Nvidia gains access to their deep sales and distribution expertise in regions worldwide."

There will be a number of companies that will begin hitting the market with tablets based on the Nvidia Tegra Note platform and offering their own features, according to Nvidia officials. Among the companies are EVGA and PNY Technologies in North America; EVGA, Oysters and Zotac in Europe; Colorful, Shenzhen Homecare Technology and Zotac in the Asia-Pacific region; and Xolo, in India.

The devices will start with a suggested retail price of $199.

In addition, a number of other partners—including Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba, Kobo and Xiaomi—already have announced tablet designs based on Tegra 4.

The Tegra 4 system-on-a-chip (SoC), which was introduced in January, includes a quad-core ARM Cortex-A15 CPU and a fifth lower-power core—Nvidia's 4-Plus-1 energy-efficient architecture, which enables the fifth core to run workloads that require less processing power. The SoC also includes a 72-core GeForce GPU.

Also included with the tablet design is the Nvidia's DirectStylus that enhances the performance of the stylus; Nvidia's PureAudio sound technology; a camera that leverages Nvidia's Chimera computational photography architecture and SmugMug's Camera Awesome app; and TegraZone gaming, which makes it easy to access games optimized for Tegra.

It includes battery life that offers more than 10 hours of HD video playback and 16GB of microSD storage that can expand by up to 32GB.