Tegra 3 and Project Denver
But the stuff we really wanted to know about was the future. Rayfield wouldn't give us a precise launch date for Tegra 3, but he offered enough clues to enable a pretty good guess.
"I'm going to come pretty close to my cadence of a launch every year," said Rayfield. "It will be in production around the same time as my competitors' first dual-cores will."
NVIDIA has already announced that it intends to launch a new version of Tegra every year, a cadence it thinks will put pressure on the likes of Qualcomm and TI, which have historically taken longer to launch new generations of their SoCs. Tegra 2 was launched at CES 2010, so if Rayfield is going to get ‘pretty close' to that prediction, Tegra 3 has to launch pretty soon.
Regarding competitors' dual-cores, Qualcomm has talked-up its MSM 8960, but hasn't committed to a launch date yet and the only guidance we have is that it will start to appear in devices in the first half of this year. TI's OMAP 4 will be appearing soon however, as it's inside the BlackBerry Playbook and that is expected to launch in Q1.
So from that, we'd be very surprised if NVIDIA doesn't launch Tegra 3 at Mobile World Congress next month. Unfortunately we couldn't get any other gory details such as CPU cores (four, hopefully) and manufacturing process (28nm, we expect), but we expect to have them within a month.
Lastly we asked about Project Denver: the surprising announcement that NVIDIA will be designing a CPU in partnership with ARM, with a view to using it in high-end computers. We asked Rayfield to elaborate.
"As well as licensing Cortex A15, we also have an architectural license with ARM to produce an extremely high performance ARM CPU, which be combined with NVIDA GPUs for super-computing," he said. When we asked for timescales, Rayfield revealed: "The Maxwell generation will be the first end-product using Project Denver. This is a far greater resource investment for us than just licensing a design."
NVIDIA had revealed its GPU roadmap back in September. It has Maxwell launching sometime in 2013, and offering a massive increase in processing power over even the previous Kepler generation. The mystery of how this will be achieved now seems to have been solved.