Nvidia Talks GPUs, 3D, Android Tablets at Computex

During the opening days of Computex, Nvidia rolls out a new GPU from its platform code-named Fermi, shows off 3D online streaming capabilities, touts upcoming Optimus-based laptops and praises Google's Android mobile OS in tablets.

Graphics card maker Nvidia put its stamp on the Computex show this week, rolling out a midrange offering in its "Fermi"-based GPU portfolio, hyping the power of "3D PCs" and promoting Google's Android mobile operating system as the primary operating system for tablets.

All of those efforts support Nvidia's multiyear effort to promote graphics chips for mainstream computing.

Nvidia on May 31 launched the GeForce GTX 465, the latest GPU built on the company's new Fermi architecture. With a price of $279, the GTX 465 will bring Fermi into the midrange.

The company in March had unveiled its GeForce GTX 480 and GeForce GTX 470 graphics cards, which are priced as high as $499 and are aimed at the high-end gaming space. The GTX 465 is an important move for Nvidia, enabling it to better compete in the midrange space against ATI GPUs from Advanced Micro Devices. AMD has been aggressively bringing out ATI cards that support Microsoft's DirectX 11 feature in Windows 7 and AMD's Eyefinity technology for a host of different price ranges.

The new GPU also supports Nvidia's push for so-called 3D PCs, which can show three-dimensional videos and run 3D games. The GTX 465 supports Blu-ray 3D technology.

"By using these new GPUs to build 3D Vision PCs ... gamers will truly immerse themselves [in] the future of PC gaming," Drew Henry, general manager of GeForce GPUs at Nvidia, said in a statement. "We are passionate about building GPUs to make the PC the best platform for gamers."

At a press conference at the show, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said the industry is on the cusp of a "3D revolution" and people should only buy PCs that support 3D.

During Huang's talk, Asustek Computer CEO Jerry Shen showed off two new 3D-capable systems, the All-in-One Eee Top PC and the G51Jx-EE laptop. Huang said Nvidia was working with other tech vendors, including Dell, Microsoft, Toshiba, Sony and Panasonic, to help build 3D-capable PCs.

At the show, Nvidia officials demonstrated 3D online streaming using a 3D-capable Nvidia Vision PC and Microsoft's Silverlight technology.

"We've been collaborating with Microsoft to enable 3D in an Internet browser so that it's very simple to use," Phil Eisler, general manager of 3D Vision technology at Nvidia, said in a statement. "Just click on a 3D video and it plays in 3D, using the latest 3D Vision Silverlight-based video player and Nvidia 3D Vision."

Nvidia also highlighted a host of notebooks using the company's new Optimus technology, which enables a laptop to automatically switch between a system's CPU and its GPU.

In a blog post June 2, Nvidia pointed to a number of systems makers, including Asus, Lenovo, Gateway and MSI, which are coming out with Optimus-enabled laptops.

In addition, CEO Huang said May 31 despite the use of Microsoft's Windows operating system in some upcoming tablets, Google's Android mobile operating system will be the technology that the market revolves around.

Huang told reporters that Windows was too big, with too many features, for tablets and low-end laptops powered by ARM-designed chips. That includes Nvidia's own Tegra 2 graphic chip for tablets, which could start appearing in systems later in 2010.

Apple, after selling more than 2 million iPads in less than two months, has shown that tablets, which have been around for years but have sold with limited success, are a viable form factor.