Nvidia LTE Chipset Qualified by ATandT for Tablets

The qualification of Nvidia’s Icera 410 LTE chipset on AT&T’s 4G network means Nvidia-based 4G devices will be hitting the market later this year, the company said.

Nvidia took a significant step forward in its mobile strategy May 24 when officials announced that the company€™s Icera 410 LTE modem chipset was validated to run on AT&T€™s 4G network.

The Icera 410 LTE chipset is designed for tablets and €œclamshell€ devices, which now can run on AT&T€™s 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) networks after the chipset was tested and validated, according to Nvidia officials.

The AT&T validation means that makers of tablets and other devices know that by using the Icera 410 LTE chipset, they can quickly get their 4G-connected devices final product qualification, they said. It also opens up the possibility of such Nvidia-based devices hitting the market soon.

"Validation with AT&T is an achievement that paves the way for Nvidia Icera-powered LTE devices on the AT&T network through this year and next," Stan Boland, senior vice president of mobile communications at Nvidia, said in a statement.

The Icera 410 LTE chipset is the result of Nvidia€™s $367 million acquisition last year of baseband processor maker Icera, a deal that Nvidia officials said was crucial to its budding mobile ambitions.

€œThis is a key step in Nvidia€™s plans to be a major player in the mobile computing revolution," Nvidia President and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said at the time of the deal. "Adding Icera's technology to Tegra gives us an outstanding platform to support the industry's best phones and tablets. Icera is a perfect fit for us.€

Nvidia officials said the Icera 410 LTE chipset brings fast Web browsing, video streaming and multiplayer gaming to tablets and other devices.

The company, most known for its graphics chip capabilities, is also growing its ARM-based CPU offerings through its Tegra platform. The company most recently brought out Tegra 3, a quad-core chip aimed at PCs, tablets and smartphones. Nvidia last year officially kicked off its mobile business, and expects it to grow substantially.

Speaking at the GPU Technology Conference May 17, Rob Csonger, vice president of investor relations at Nvidia, said that by the end of 2011, the company saw more than $100 million in revenues from its mobile business. €œIt€™s not bad for our first year,€ Csonger said.

He also noted that in 2011, there were 18 new smartphone designs running on Nvidia€™s dual-core Tegra 2 chip. This year, Csonger said he expects 29 new Nvidia-based smartphone designs, with 22 of those using Tegra 3 CPUs and the other seven using Tegra 2.

He also pointed to several phone makers€”including HTC and ZTE€”that were making Nvidia-based devices. ZTE in particular is offering not only a high-end smartphone, but also a mainstream device running on Nvidia chips. The mainstream phone €œwill be an early indicator of the direction that our mobile business is going,€ Csonger said.

Leveraging Tegra 3, Nvidia will push for more mainstream devices by designing more of the components going into the smartphones, and more tightly integrating those devices, he said.

Csonger also gave more definition to the company€™s tablet strategy, which includes a platform called €œKai€ that he said will enable the development of Android-based tablets that will come in at $199, significantly lower than Apple€™s popular iPad. The company also is expecting to take advantage of the release this year of Windows RT, the version of Microsoft€™s upcoming Windows 8 OS that will support the ARM architecture.