Nvidia Names New Head of Tegra Chip Business

The Tegra SoC effort has become the key to Nvidia’s ambitions in the competitive tablet and smartphone markets.

Nvidia has a new executive in charge of its key Tegra processor group.

Deepu Talla, who came to Nvidia earlier this year from Texas Instruments, is replacing Phil Carmack, who spent the last 10 years helping the company build the Tegra systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) and the $750 million business around them.

Carmack is the new CEO at an unnamed partner company, Bob Sherbin, vice president of corporate communications at Nvidia, said in an April 30 post on the company's blog. He declined to name Carmack's new company.

The Tegra family of chips has become a key for Nvidia as it evolves from being a maker of high-end graphics technology designed to run the increasingly complex video games hitting the marketplace to being a mobile chip maker leveraging that graphics history and the mobile chip designs of ARM Holdings. The transformation is increasingly putting Nvidia into tighter competition with the likes of Qualcomm, Samsung and Texas Instruments.

Nvidia officials have said the company has been making strides in the highly competitive markets for smartphones and tablets with its dual- and quad-core Tegra 3 chips, which last year found their way into Google's Android-based Nexus 7 tablet and a growing number of other tablets and smartphones.

Ahead of the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in January, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang unveiled the Tegra 4, a quad-core chip that he called the world's fastest mobile processor. The upcoming Tegra 4 will include 72 of Nvidia's GeForce graphics cores and will offer six times the GPU capabilities of the Tegra 3, according to Nvidia officials. That will mean greater screen resolution, which is important for gaming systems, notebooks, smartphones and tablet. The CPU core is based on ARM's Cortex A-15 design, which Nvidia officials said fits in with Nvidia's 4-Plus-1 energy-efficient architecture. Introduced last year in the Tegra 3, the architecture enables a fifth core to run workloads that require less processing power than what is offered in the other four cores.

The Tegra 4 will use up to 45 percent less power than the Tegra 3.

"Tegra 4 provides enormous processing power and efficiency to power smartphones and tablets, gaming devices, auto systems and PCs," Carmack, who was senior vice president of Nvidia's Tegra business, said in a statement in January. "Its new capabilities, particularly in the area of computational photography, will help improve a whole range of existing products and lead to the creation of exciting new ones."

Rumors have surfaced that the Tegra 4 will power Hewlett-Packard's anticipated SlateBook 10 X2 tablet, which will run Google's Android operating system.

Before making the move to Nvidia as vice president of Tegra business development, Talla spent 10 years at Texas Instruments, most recently as general manager of its OMAP mobile computing unit, according to Sherbin.

In addition to the change in leadership, Nvidia also is folding Tegra's design team into Nvidia's centralized engineering structure.

“This new org structure reflects the central importance of Tegra—not only in our mobile strategy, but increasingly in PCs, gaming, auto and beyond,” Sherbin wrote.

Carmack's departure comes eight months after that of Mike Rayfield, an Nvidia veteran who was general manager of the company's mobile chip unit.