Tuesday, January 8, 2013

NVIDIA Announces Tegra 4, NVIDIA Grid, Shield Handheld Gaming Device

Even before the start of CES 2013, NVIDIA held a press conference where they announced several new products and inventions: Tegra 4, "the fastest mobile processor", NVIDIA Grid, a cloud graphics processing system, GeForce Experience, a cloud-based game optimization service and a portable gaming device, Project Shield.

Tegra 4

The conference started with CEO Jen-Hsun Huang unveiling the previously leaked Tegra 4 CPU for mobile devices. This new CPU is described as a four-plus-one system, in which a quad-core CPU does intensive tasks and the fifth one does less-core-intensive work.

Huang demoed the chip in a prototype tablet (that seemed to run Android but had the Windows logo). He rendered several downloaded web pages one after the other rapidly and put the Tegra 4 head-to-head with the Nexus 10. Of course, the Tegra 4 tablet came out on top. He also showed off how the chip can process photos from the camera a lot faster than anything on the market right now. One of the demos involved some sweet 'live-HDR', in which the tablet was rendering high dynamic range video live from the camera.


The company seems to be getting into a service similar to OnLive. NVIDIA Grid is a rack-based cloud GPU system that will allow gamers to enjoy games on any device, from a regular computer to mobile devices and even smart TVs without a powerful graphics card. The rendering will be done in the cloud and the game will be streamed to the device in real time.

In the press conference, there was a demo of Trine 2 being played on an LG smart HDTV that had only an Ethernet cable connected to it and nothing else.

Each server rack was said to be more powerful than 700 XBOX 360s.

In the demo, the TV showed a library of games from which Trine 2 was selected. It is still unclear when, how and for how much users will be able to use this cloud rendering service for the games they already own, or whether they will have to purchase from an NVIDIA-owned Steam-like service.

GeForce Experience

Speaking of the cloud, there was one more cloud-related announcement. GeForce Experience is an upcoming cloud service that has been designed to deliver the optimal graphics experience possible to NVIDIA GPU users. The system changes the various graphics settings in any(?) video game to suit the available graphics resources in the computer the game is running on. Thus, the user does not have to tweak the settings to the right values to get the best quality and performance before they start playing.

Project Shield

Project Shield is a still-prototype gaming device that has been in development for five years. It looks like an XBOX controller with a little flip-up screen on it. It has pure Android installed on it, is said to be an open platform and comes with standard jacks and a micro-SD slot. It is supposed to give you 5-10 hours of battery life while gaming.

The device connects to the cloud to play Android games, games from TegraZone and even PC games for PCs with compatible NVIDIA cards.


The hardware manufacturing company had quite a bit of new products and services up its sleeve. However, many of the services, such as Grid and Shield seem to be targeted towards a very niche gamer audience, considering the fast Internet connection cloud-based graphics processing will require. We still don't know how bandwidth-intensive they are going to be, but it is a safe bet that people with slow connections and bandwidth caps will not be able to enjoy live-streaming video games in high definition.