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A Look At Nvidia's CES Announcements

 January 08, 2013 03:19 PM

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), one of the world's largest fairs dedicated to gadgets, is taking place between January 8 and 11 in Las Vegas.

Nvidia Corp. (NASDAQ: NVDA), ahead of CES, made three announcements including Project Shield, a gaming portable for open platforms.

Project Shield flawlessly plays both Android and PC titles. As a pure Android device, it gives access to any game on Google Play. As a wireless receiver and controller, it can stream games from a PC powered by its GeForce GTX GPUs, accessing titles on its STEAM game library from anywhere in the home.

Project Shield can also access Android apps such as Hulu, Netflix and Slacker Radio, so users can enjoy their movies and music anywhere without expensive, clumsy wired or wireless speakers.

[Related -NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA) Q3 Earnings Preview: Can We See Another Beat?]

The device is in support of efforts to grow and develop a nascent cloud-gaming market. Project Shield features an integrated 5-inch, 1280x720 HD retinal multi-touch display, with 294 dpi driven by a Tegra 4 SoC (detail below on Tegra 4) with DirectTouch technology.

But, experts feel that the gaming device may not be disruptive as it touted to be and were skeptical of long-term success as mobile gaming platforms face an element of redundancy given access from smartphone and tablet devices.

"By the incorporation of hardware, NVDA is making a move from horizontal to vertical, however we do not expect incremental game sales as a result of the hardware introduction to be material in our investment window," RBC Capital Markets analyst Doug Freedman wrote in a note to clients.

[Related -Nvidia Corporation: Ramping Tegra 4 In 2H May Compress Current Gross Margins]

Nvidia also introduced Tegra 4, which the company claims as the world's fastest mobile processor, with record-setting performance and battery life to flawlessly power smartphones and tablets, gaming devices, auto infotainment and navigation systems, and PCs.

Tegra 4 offers exceptional graphics processing, with lightning-fast web browsing, stunning visuals and new camera capabilities through computational photography.

Previously codenamed "Wayne," Tegra 4 features 72 custom NVIDIA GeForce GPU cores -- or six times the GPU horsepower of Tegra 3 -- which deliver more realistic gaming experiences and higher resolution displays. It includes the first quad-core application of ARM's most advanced CPU core, the Cortex-A15, which delivers 2.6x faster web browsing and breakthrough performance for apps.

Tegra 4 also enables worldwide 4G LTE voice and data support through an optional chipset, the fifth-generation NVIDIA Icera i500 processor. More efficient and 40 percent the size of conventional modems, i500 delivers four times the processing capability of its predecessor.

"In regards to Tegra 4, our expectation is release OEM's by AprQ, while products to market maybe a few months after this as no released date was communicated. We had hoped NVDA would have provided a list of launch partners. Our applications processor concern remains the rising threat of vertical integration and high R&D costs for success," Freedman noted.

Meanwhile, though Nvidia lost slight share in January quarter, it could regain footing in April quarter as its production rates for the months of January and February stand to decline 10-15 percent.

"We note that these months split NVDA's JanQ & AprQs. However, we believe trends could rebound in 1HFY14 on launch of Intel's Haswell," Freedman added.

California-based Nvidia makes the graphics processor units (GPUs) and the mobile processors. Both are highly complex chips and manufactured by a third party chip foundry TSMC. GPUs are the engines of visual computing, the science and art of using computers to understand, create and enhance images.

The company has three GPU product brands: GeForce, which creates realistic visual experiences for gamers; Quadro, the standard in visual computing for designers and digital artists; and Tesla, which accelerates applications for scientists and researchers. 

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