Theses days a lot is in change at NVIDIA. The manufacturer that once was market leader for discrete PC and Workstation graphics cards gets growing competition from Intel and AMD with the integrated graphics units. As Moores Law progresses integrated graphics will soon compete with discrete mid range desktop products and NVIDIA needs to be ready for this moment.
NVIDIA is aware of this situation and they decided to invest in developing processors for the tablet market. With Tegra 2 they were able to show a first product that was accepted by manufacturers like ASUS and they put it into their quite successful Transformer tablet PC. For the Tegra 2 NVIDIA licences ARM cores builds their own SoCs (System on a Chip). Mostly they have been put into tablets but not into smartphones.
NVIDIA manufactures their Tegra 2 processors at TSMC. Therefore their
using their 40 nanometer triple gate oxide process (LPG). The dual core
processors that are based on ARMs Cortex-A9-Design are optimized for
performance, which is the reason why clock frequencies up to one Gigahertz could
be realized. But compared to competitors Tegra 2 had to fight with the
disadvantage of high leakage currents. These were the consequence of the
LPG-process. TSMC also offeres an LP process which in the end has leakage
currents as a result which are orders of magnitudes lower than with the LPG
process. The market leaders like Qualcomm, TI and Samsung are using this process
at the moment. The high leakage has also been the reason why there were no
smartphones based on NVIDIAs Tegra 2. The problem is, that when the phone is
locked the background processes needed to much power to operate and this would
drain the battery way too quickly.
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