During a Q&A session following its most recent earnings call, Nvidia’s very vocal co-founder, Jen-Hsun Huang, provided some good news on the Tegra 4 processor’s projected release date. Additionally, he offered his thoughts on Microsoft’s Windows RT operating system, and while he was more positive about it than some, there was concern about how it was being promoted to the public.
Let’s start with the Tegra 4 news. Nvidia launched its latest processor, previously known by its codename of Wayne, during CES 2013; but didn’t provide much in the way of a release date or when we would see the first wave of devices using the chip go on sale. We’ve now been provided with more information on the subject.
A question from Goldman Sachs prompted Huang into giving us a better idea of when the Tegra 4 would arrive. He indicated the new chip, which is described as the world’s fastest mobile processor, would begin shipping in Q2 this year, which in this case equates to sometime between July and September. He then added the firm’s Android tablet known as Project Shield would ship later in the same quarter.
This puts the Tegra 4’s release around the same as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 and 800 chips, at which time we’ll see the battle for processor supremacy in 2013 truly commence. Aside from the Shield gaming tablet, no official products using the Tegra 4 have been announced, however HP is rumored to be considering using one in its equally speculative Android tablet.
Windows RT “rocks” on the Tegra 4
When asked which sector Nvidia was counting on this year to bring it the most success, either smartphones or tablets, Android or Windows RT; Huang replied that like last year, he expected tablets to provide the most growth for the company. Interestingly, he didn’t dismiss Windows RT, unlike some hardware manufacturers, and instead said Microsoft’s struggling operating system, “rocks,” and is, “fantastic” on test hardware powered by the Tegra 4.
Nvidia used a Windows RT tablet to demonstrate the Tegra 4 during the launch event at CES, where its performance was measured against the Nexus 10 and Apple iPad 4, both of which it unsurprisingly beat. As Nvidia has a strong relationship with Microsoft – its Tegra 3 powers the Surface tablet after all – you may have expected Huang to shy away from criticizing Windows RT. Sure enough, he was diplomatic, but still managed to be candid.
Commenting on the OS’s shortcomings, Huang called the software, “Strategically essential,” but it needed more investment from Microsoft if it was to become a success. His words echo those of a Samsung senior vice president, who also said Windows RT would need, “pretty heavy investment,” before customers understood it. Huang agrees, saying, “Whether people see Windows RT as a consumer tablet or as a PC is yet to be determined,” before clarifying that in, “a few years… Windows RT can possibly be a wonderful PC.”