Tag Archive | "nvidia"

Transformer Prime Shows Us What Tegra 3’s 12-core GPU Can Do [video]

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Tegra 3 is the world’s first quad-core mobile platform, Nvidia assures us, and along with those 4 CPU cores come the Tegra 3 GPU which has 12 additional cores of its own. Nvidia is happy to show off the graphical capabilities of the Tegra 3 GPU, which they claim to be up to 3x faster than the Tegra 2 GPU. A few months back (when Tegra 3 was still being called Kal-El) Nvidia demoed a game called Glowball on pre-production hardware. Now, Nvidia is showing off a new level of the game, running on a production version of the Transformer Prime:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C30ShWQm5pI

If you were already anticipating the Transformer Prime, I can only imagine you are now that much more excited; you’d be hard pressed to call that demo anything but impressive. I’ll be curious to see some benchmarks, but I’d say Tegra 3’s graphical capabilities are right up there with Apple’s A5 CPU/GPU found in the iPhone 4S and iPad 2.

I think it’s great to see that competition has created extremely high performance mobile computing platforms, but when it comes to gaming on tablets, casual play is still where the segment thrives. As soon as you push touchscreen gaming beyond casual, you absolutely need a controller to achieve a reasonable experience. Even though we should be able to connect Bluetooth peripherals (or even USB), it seems that there is not yet a defacto controller to suit the needs of beyond-casual gaming on mobile devices.

What say you? Do you find beyond-casual gaming on tablets impractical with only a touchscreen to control them?

Transformer Prime with Tegra 3 Quad-core CPU Now Official

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The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime (aka Transformer 2) leaked last month but now it’s all been made official. Tegra 3 has been confirmed, and although the Transformer Prime will ship with Android 3.2, they are confirming that it can be upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich.

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Of course, it wouldn’t be a Transformer without the signature attachable keyboard, and Asus is claiming that the Transformer Prime will get a whopping 18 hours of battery life from a full charge using both the tablet and the dock.

With the Tegra 3 quad-core processor (once codenamed Kal-El), Nvidia says that you can see improvements in speed up to 3x over Tegra 2, with up to 61% less power consumption. The lower power consumption is thanks to a fifth “companion cube” “companion core” that is designed to do the easy lifting, completely shutting down the quad-core CPU when it isn’t needed. Once you start doing tasks that require significant power, everything is shifted from the companion core to the quad-cores and the companion core is shut down. Nvidia calls this process Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing or vSMP.

The GPU included in Tegra 3 utilizes 12 processing cores and can automatically convert OpenGL applications and games into stereo 3D, allowing you to hook up your tablet to a 3D HDTV or 3D head mounted display (like Sony’s upcoming HMZ-T1).

The Transformer Prime itself is an impressive 8.3mm thick, which will make it the thinnest 10″ tablet available on the market (that is, until Toshiba releases their 7.7 mm thick AT200). It is also one of the lightest 10″ tablets at 586 grams, though still behind the Galaxy Tab 10.1. This is all without the keyboard of course.

The Transformer Prime screen retains the 1280 x 800 resolution and IPS technology used on the original Transformer. 1GB of RAM accompanies the Tegra 3 processor. Unfortunately, Asus has not moved the USB port onto the tablet itself, as per Damian’s hopes; you’ll still need transform into the keyboard mode to access the USB port. Unfortunately they’ve actually reduced the count from two USB ports to one, which seems like a step backward considering the good USB peripheral support of Android Honeycomb and beyond. The Transformer Prime alone has micro-HDMI, 3.5mm headphone/mic input, a built in mic, micro-SD card reader, and stereo speakers.

The Transformer Prime is Priced at $499 for a 32GB model or $599 for a 64GB model. There are two colors available: Amethyst Grey and Champagne Gold. The keyboard dock, which includes one USB port and a full-sized SD card reader and battery (and will add 537 grams to the Transformer Prime), is optional and will run you an additional $149.

Nvidia Kal-El Video Demo Gives Glimpses of Next-gen Tablet Performance and What 4 CPU Cores and 12 GPU Cores Can Do

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nvidia kal-elNvidia’s Tegra and Tegra 2 hardware has been quite popular over the last year, bringing powerful CPU and GPU performance to tablets and smartphones in a standardized package. Today, Nvidia is showing off the next version of Tegra, codenamed Kal-El, which will power tomorrow’s tablets and smartphones.

Kal-El is the next iteration of Nvidia’s mobile CPU/GPU series and features the world’s first mobile quad-core CPU, and a whopping dodeca-core GPU (that’s 12, folks!). Nvidia is expecting five times the performance of Tegra 2 out of Kal-El!

They say that seeing is believing:

This impressive video demo shows some intense dynamic lighting and real-time physics. Both lighting and animations are traditionally pre-rendered onto scenes in mobile games and cannot be interacted with in real-time. Nvidia says that Kal-El’s four CPU cores and twelve GPU cores make dynamic lighting and real-time physics animations practical for the first time on mobile devices.

In the demo you’ll watch as the demonstrator disables two of the four CPU cores to simulate how the game would run on a dual-core CPU. The results aren’t very pretty as the cores max-out and the framerate drops to at least half of what it was. Returning to four cores shows each core running around 70% and the game playing very smoothly. What’s great is that Nvidia expects the production CPU to be 25-30% faster than the hardware being used for this demonstration!

The game will be available on the Android Marketplace (likely through the Tegra Zone application) once it’s complete.

Nvidia has been sending out Kal-El samples to production customers since February and expect Kal-El devices to begin production this August.

Acer Iconia Pad A500 Unboxing

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The Acer Iconia Tab A500, a 10” Honeycomb tablet arrived today and, as per the ‘law’ I unboxed it straight away for you.

Interestingly, it crashed during the first tests! I was messing with an external keyboard at the time but that wasn’t expected. I also found out that there’s only one language installed and that the media player can’t handle WMV or DivX files that I had on a USB stick. Not a good start.

060520111486The build quality is impressive though and as you can see in this image, I did manage to get the Samsung Q1 keyboard working with it. The mouse didn’t work.

The screen has good viewing angles and the speakers are reasonable too. Set-up was, as always with Android, a breeze and working down in my studio I was able to see hotspots that I don’t usually see so the Wifi seems strong.

I’ll leave it there for the time being as we’ve got a live session running with the Acer Iconia Tab A500 this evening where we’ll find out everything there is to know. We’ll record some of the session and get it written up for you in a first-impressions post at the weekend.

Details for the live session are here.

Full Specifications, Links, Images, Reviews for the A500 are here.

Deal Alert: ViewSonic G-tablet — 10.1″ Nvidia Tegra 2 Dual-Core 1GHz CPU, Android 2.2 for $279

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viewsonic g-tabletSo you know of Woot.com right? That great deal-a-day site that occasionally has some nice gadget deals? Well, a few weeks back Woot was offering up the ViewSonic G-Tablet on their site, but it seems as though they’ve got more to dish out.

Woot is now offering the same product on their secret site reserved for leftover stock, Moofi.com. You can only access this deal through this URL:

http://moofi.woot.com/moofi/deliciouswaffles

Once you’re there, you can login and order with your regular Woot account. Unlike Woot’s traditional model, this deal should remain indefinitely, rather than disappearing after a day. Here’s what we wrote about the ViewSonic G-tablet when Woot was offering the tablet last time:

Today’s Woot is actually quite tantalizing. You’ll be getting a brand new, impressively speced ViewSonic G-tablet for a mere $279. This thing has the powerful Nvidia Tegra 2 chipset with a dual-core 1GHz CPU packed inside, not to mention 512MB of RAM. It’s running Android 2.2 as well.

The only show stopper? No official Android market access. They’ve pre-loaded a third party store called the G-market which actually links you up to apps that Handango offers. You won’t find official versions of Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, etc. on this device, but if you did some looking around, you may find a way to enable such functionality.

There’s also a custom interface layered over the standard Android which is reportedly somewhat sluggish. But, according to a release on ViewSonic’s site, a recent update allows the user to switch between the customer interface and the default one (hurray for choice!).

Important Specs:

  • Android 2.2 (no Android Market access)
  • 10.1” capacitive touchscreen @ 1024×600
  • Dual-core Cortex A9 Nvidia Tegra CPU @ 1GHz
  • 512MB of DDR2 RAM
  • 16GB internal memory
  • 1080p hardware decoding: H.264/H.263/ VC-1/MPEG-2/4/WMV9/DiVX
  • Front-facing 1.3MP camera
  • MicroSD slot, full-sized USB 2.0 slot, MicroUSB slot (for charging)
  • 3.5mm headphone jack

LaptopMag has a solid review on the ViewSonic G-tablet if you are looking to do some pre-purchase research.

ASUS 1015pn shows up with 1.6Ghz CPU. Crystalmark Test

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The ASUS 1015pn was already one of the most powerful 10″ Netbooks but here at CEBIT we’ve found it running the dual-core Atom CPU  at 1.68Ghz. The Crystalmark test shows better CPU  performance than the 1015b (AMD C-50) but worse 2d and 3d rendering performance.

Here’s the full result with optimus enabled and then with the 1015pn locked into Nvidia mode and externally powered. See our previous post for 1015b results.

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Posted from WordPress for Android with the Galaxy Tab

Ultra Mobile Video Editing Part 1

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I wrote a few days ago on my personal blog about my mobile video editingI project aims. Soon after I posted that, I had a long talk with @jkkmobile who, like me, is always looking for ways to improve speed and quality while keeping the weight down. We both deeply understand the tech involved, the requirements and challenges and have come up with a set of initial thoughts that we hopebare worth sharing.

To recap, the three areas of interest are cloud-based processing, arm-based smartphone and tablet processing and traditional x86 laptops. The target for this project is a sub €600 solution that is able to post 16:9 HQ quality (480p) edited content with watermarks, titles, crossfade and other cpu-bound processes. The computer solution should weigh less than 1.5 kg. Trust me, this is quite a challenge as you’ll see below.

We quickly discussed the idea of cloud-based editing but while that might be possible over good cable networks, over 3g networks it is too unreliable and too slow. We’re both interested in this as a future possibility and Clesh is a service we’re watching closely.

As for ARM based editing on smartphones and tablets, again, there are issues. While the technology is maturing quickly and there are some interesting software solutions out there (Reel Director on IOS, Movie Studio on Honeycomb Android) these solutions need tight integration of hardware and software. We’re thinking of future cameras that include camera hardware you just don’t get in ‘general purpose’ smartphones and Tablets. For a smooth and fast editing experience we also need to wait for at least the next generation of ARM platforms. There’s definitely an opportunity for someone to make a niche ARM/ANDROID camera for mobile reporters although we’re not sure that the carriers would be too pleased about the upload usage! Software needs to mature too. Of course, it doesn’t mean you can’t post the occasional 30 second clip from a phone without editing. I plan to do some of that using the Galaxy Tab which, although not a 16:9 solution, records in 720×480 and has some very simple and easy sharing tools.

Todays video editing solutions are very much about traditional computing. X86 processors, desktop operating system, rich software, common file formats and separate devices for the camera and editing parts of the process. Many will actually tell you that you shouldn’t even think about a low cost laptop. As for netbook, people that do video editing for a living often laugh.

Having used a netbook for editing and posting videos at expos’s I know its possible. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it because JKK and I have over 20 million combined YouTube views and most of these were done on-the-go with a netbook but as I mentioned in the last post, the requirements have changed over the last 2 years and 4:3 VGA videos aren’t acceptable to many. Its a trend, it works against the mobile user but I (JKK already produces videos in 16:9) have to play along now if I’m to be taken seriously.

JKK and I agree that there are a number of approaches that can be made in the x86 world.

Firstly we’ve discounted the idea of using Apple Mac products with iMovie for mobile video editing due to the import process which converts video into the AIC format usable by the video editing software. The process simply takes too long. There are other software solutions though which could be interesting on the MacBook Air product, as long as there is no import processing. This needs further research but even if the import problem could be solved, the price of the Apple MBA products is outside our range. I’m focusing this project on low-cost and lightweight solutions.

In our discussion we repeatedly came back to Nvidias CUDA technology which allows a certain amount of general purpose computing to be done on the graphics module. It is truly a game-changing technology but it does require software to be re-written to take advantage of it.

You see, graphics modules (gpu) are very specific processing engines for 2d, 3D and video decoding. In some cases the GPU can also handle encoding but these basic processes are often not what you need for video editing. Consider a fade, an overlay, a watermark or a transition. These processes require general purpose processing on a frame by frame basis. This is why CUDA is so interesting for mobile and low power video editing; it breaks the requirement for pure CPU processing.

CUDA doesn’t just appear in high end graphics solutions because it also appears in the Nvidia ion2 platform that is offered with the netbook-class Pinetrail CPU. Beware though, this ion2 variant doesn’t include the CUDA you need for video processing. The lowest power processing platform that we have found that includes full CUDA capability is the Ion2 12″ Netbook platform. it couples the D525 dual-core, 1.8Ghz Atom with the full 16-core CUDA engine. They are not the best mobile cpus (speedstep is missing) but they are in a processing class that easily outpaced traditional netbook platforms. The ion2 solution also allows the platform to fall back to the embedded graphics thus saving power when the GPU is not needed. The platform also idles down to a very low power drain state. For our purposes, its a very interesting platform.

Examples of devices that use this platform are the Acer EeePC 1215n and the Acer Lamborghini VX6 which even offers a useful 3GB of memory. Both are around 1.5kg in weight.

But what about dropping CUDA and going for a general purpose CPU with a bit more power than Atom? It’s possible. The Lenovo U160 offers CPU options up to core i5. Could a boost in cpu equal the CUDA solution? It would certainly be more useful for general purpose activities and opens up the choice of software to that which isn’t optimized for CUDA. Using a higher-end architecture with faster bus speeds and one well matched to a GPU for more efficiency might bring benefits.

Two choices in the low-cost area that I’m looking at are the Lenovo U160 and the Acer Aspire 1830T. Both are available with a low power Core i5 and weigh about 1.4kg. The Acer has the better performance and battery life of the two according to reports I’ve read. Cost is relatively high though and it is going to be tough to find a solution under 600 Euro.

The other interesting thoughts we discussed was that of the keyboard requirement. Could we used Tablet PCs and save weight and space?

Editing movies is largely a mouse operation which means it could be suited to tablet operation. In general though, battery sizes are smaller (and spares more expensive.) I haven’t seen any Tablets with the CUDA 12″ netbook platform and there are only a few low cost options with laptop cpus. The Hanvon B10 is one of them. We see the advantage of the ‘modular’ tablet solution but we’re both wanting to keep or lapping scenario, the keyboard and the protection it brings when folded together.

JKK and I discussed a bunch of other important items too. Fast SSD helps a lot. Using fast SD cards means you can edit from the SD card without having to copy it to the hard drive first.

We also discussed file formats, bitrate and sizes. We’re currently in agreement that h.264 is the format that provides most flexibility but there’s a huge CPU load associated with h.264 that is used to compress files down much further than standard mpeg4 part 2 codecs. The important thing to note is that our initial and most important file transfer is from an SD card in a PC. The bitrate and file size can be large without affecting the transfer time significantly. Final compression into h.264 at 2 or even 3 mbps doesn’t save that much in final file size and its not important to us how YouTube sends the file out so why even bother with h.264?.

It seems to me that a recording format of Mpeg-2 at a bitrate of 10mbps would be acceptable for our sub 10 minute clips. They would be relatively easy to work with. One thing to note on this is that CUDA  might not work with mpeg2 which brings us back to using a general purpose CPU. Testing is needed here. If we can find video editing software that uses CUDA for mpeg-2 editing (note that we also need to choose our output file format carefully too) then mpeg2 could be exactly the right choice of source codec.

There is other slight problem here in that there are very very few cameras that record in mpeg2 now.

Resolution, bitrate and aspect ratio.
16:9 is the ratio we need to aim for with YouTube. The lowest acceptable resolution is 854×480 with a bitrate of around 2mbps. This triggers HQ encoding in YouTube although I’ve had no problems with my 640×480 resolutions showing as HQ. Another option would be 720×480 which isn’t quite 16:9 but doesn’t look as bad 640×480.

Note: Recording in the resolution you want to output in will save processing.

Recording in 720p (1280×720) is another option but could require re-encoding to 480p before using in an editor because it’s a huge jump in pixels per frame. Ideally the camera will allow 480p and 780p at various bitrates. If you consider the requirement for viewfinder and Mic input you will only really find solutions in the video camera world. Combining a digital camera with these video requirements results in very little choice.

As for bitrates for the final upload file, it will depend on final codec and resolution. To ensure a reasonable chance of using 3g services to upload the file, a bitrate of around 2mbps needs to be used. For a 480p resolution it means you really need an advanced codec like h.264 to preserve the quality.

So in summary, mpeg2 at 854×480  at a relatively high bitrate seems like a good source and editing choice. Output files should be the same resolution but at around 2mbps bitrate in the h.264 codec.

What does jkkmobile use? He currently records in mpeg2 at a 16:9 ratio. Resolution is 960×540, bitrate either 6 or 9mbps. He converts that down to 854×480 which is 480p resolution. I’m not sure what format and bitrate he outputs to send to YouTube. If he has enough cpu power he will be using h.264 but he may be using wmv or something else that it is a little easier on the CPU. He certainly has the optimal settings for source files.  His camera is a Canon FS100 which you can’t buy any more. There are other SD cameras from Canon that also offer 16:9 capture though.

A quick step back to the world of camera products shows that 1080p rules and it’s difficult to know exactly what alternative resolutions a device will offer. In addition, h.264 is the popular codec which at anything bigger than 480p resolution, will be a problem.

Can CUDA do all that we require or are we going to have to rely 100% on a general purpose CPU? From what I have read and been told, most video editing software that is CUDA-enabled is doing so on output to h.264 only. I’ve seen test result with mpeg2 source formats too so mpeg2 again looks like the best source format.

There is only one way to find out. I’m arranging an Asus 1215n loan device for CeBIT next week and I plan to do as much testing as I can. I will use JKKs cam to create some 16:9 mpeg2 source and test it with some CUDA-enabled software. Power Director from Cyberlink looks like a good starting point.

Many thanks to Think4IT Solutions for offering to help us with this project.

Stay tuned for part 2 which should come after CEBIT.

Posted from WordPress for Android with the Galaxy Tab

LG Optimus Pad at MWC.

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Tegra and Honeycomb seem to be everywhere at MWC. We spotted the Acer Iconia 100 yesterday but that seems to be the only 7″-er. Everything else is 10″. At this early stage in the Honeycomb lifeline there isn’t a lot of time for manufacturers to make huge differentiation in the software layers so LG have chosen to go the hardware route on their tablet and have added 3D cameras. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to test them.

With Honeycomb being so new its difficult to come to any conclusions but I saw an amazingly sharp and high-contrast screen that was let down by a user interface that should be a lot, lot smoother.

On the back you have a removable panel which seems to be only for the Sim card. I think I must have missed something there but I’m sure there’s no removable battery. Build quality overall seems very good and the gaming experience was an obvious step up from what I’ve seen on other devices. If developers jump on the bandwagon and optimise for Tegra, it will a real advantage in the gaming space.

With that 3D feature in the device I’m certainly not expecting it to be cheap and I wonder, is anyone really crying out for 3D camera like this?

Nvidia CEO Talks Up ARM and the Future of Mobile Devices

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5366326949_76cdde59ff_b Jen-Hsun Huang, the CEO of Nvidia has recently announced a major Tegra 2 win (Honeycomb) and a new project “extending the performance range of the ARM instruction-set architecture, enabling the ARM architecture to cover a larger portion of the computing space” so it’s no surprise that the CEO is positive when he talks about ARM.

I had the chance to watch him being interviewed by All Things D mobile correspondent Ina Fried last week at CES and with Galaxy Tab in hand I was put to the test in noting quote after quote of amazing pro-ARM comments from Jen-Hsun.  How about some of these gems:

“2011 is likely to go down like 1995. We will realise that the personal computing industry was redefined”. Jen-Hsun is referring to Windows 95, the operating system that changed the way consumers interacted with personal computers.

“The most important architecture going forward is likely to be ARM.”

“Whatever expectation you have…are going to be fully met by mobile computing devices within the next 3 to 4 years.”

“3D on phone is a foregone conclusion. This piece of glass is is likely the most accommodating piece of glass for 3D”

Here’s a quick video I did of Jen-Hsun demonstrating the LG Optimus 2X. There’s a fuller video over at All Things D

In addition to Tegra 2, 3D and Honeycomb announcements, Nvidia have also taken a Cortex A15 license and have announced project Denver which appears to be looking to combine future ARM architecture (possibly Cortex A15, possibly a new license for ARMv7 or even ARMv8!) and running parallel with the Windows on ARM project. If Nvidia are chosen as the reference design for that, they are sitting pretty! An Nvidia blog post gives more info about Denver.

However, Nvidia talks about ARM like it’s the only low-power choice but we know that Intel are moving into this space too. In fact, as processing power requirements reach into the same 1W envelope, it’s the screens, radios, batteries and software need to be sorted out. An wild, uncontrolled third party app can negate a lot of potential hardware efficiencies.  Also, if Windows 8 is supporting ARM, I expected it to also be supporting the new power features of the Intel platforms that bring it right alongside ARM. Don’t forget that Android is running on Intel too!

Nvidia appear to have an excellent leader, strategist and spokesperson in Jen-Hsun and it’s unlike any other company playing in this mobile game. The brand is looking good, products are looking good, strategy and partnerships are going well and given one or two more major wins, Nvidia will rise to the top very quickly.

Thanks to Ina Fried for (literally) last-minute access to All Things D at CES. Ina runs the Mobilized blog for All Things D and is on Twitter here.

Nvidia Showcase Tegra Games

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With an incoming surge of Tegra dual-core Android tablets and phones hitting the market Nvidia have made the move to highlight Tegra optimised games. To do this they have created a new Android app called Tegra Zone that will soon be available via the Android Market.

Tegra Zone will launch highlighting several games including Dungeon Defenders, Fruit Ninja HD, Back Breaker THD and Monster Madness. The highlight from that list is Dungeon Defends as it’s the first Unreal Engine 3 game to arrive on the Android platform offering immersive gameplay and stunning graphics.

Tegra Zone is designed to complement the Android Market as it offers additional information about the game such as professional reviews, gameplay videos and game trailers while at the same time allowing the user to download the game through the Android Market.

Source: Nvidia via TheNextWeb

Asus Eee PC 1015PN Bring One of the First Ion 2 and Dual Core Atom Equipped Netbooks to Consumers, Available Now

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Image 1Nvidia’s ION and other discrete graphics options have really helped expand the netbook’s potential from mere web browsing to more advanced things like HD video playback and even some light gaming. The second version of Nvidia’s graphics options are now starting to hit the shelves. ION 2, combined with the dual-core Intel Atom 550 make the 10.1” Asus Eee 1015PN a small but capable machine.

Asus Eee 1015PN tracking page – Full specs, stats, links, and more

Thanks to HDMI output and the capable Nvidia graphics, the 1015PN will definitely be great for anyone looking to hook up to the big screen. Combined with desktop viewing experiences such as Boxee, XBMC, or Hulu Desktop, the 1015PN will be the perfect HDTV companion, able to deliver 720p and 1080p (and Dolby 5.1 surround sound) content without costing a fortune and all in the size of a netbook which doesn’t need to be permanently hooked up next to your TV.

The 1015PN is available on Amazon starting at $429 but it’s going quick! Amazon is currently sold out of the white, red, and blue models and only has three of the black models remaining. It might be a bit more expensive than your typical 10.1” netbook, but if you’re looking for an HD content capable netbook, the 1015PN can deliver.

“Have Patience” – Nvidia on Tablets at Computex.

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The tablet featured first in the press conference but there were no product announcements. We’ve actually left the event to head on out to the ASUS press conference.

The tablet has the “ability to allow is to enjoy nearly all the content that we would like to enjoy on a computer today” says Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of Nvidia, who went on to talk up the potential market for tablets, his excitement and of course, the Tegra 2.

Surprisingly, he then said “have patience” and went on to explain that devices should come to market in the fall. Just how long is this Tegra story going to drag on?

Here are the relevant slides from the conference…

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