At CES 2010 in early January one of the main themes was tablets. This occurred with Apple's iPad still just a rumour, but with the mobile Internet land grab very much underway.
So we had Qualcomm keen to show off all the innovative devices Lenovo was building around its Snapdragon chip, Intel insisting it was on the verge of taking on the mobile incumbents, and NVIDIA just generally evangelising about tablets and how the best ones would use its Tegra SoC.
Nearly a year down the line there has been progress but also a strong sense of déjà vu. The Qualcomm/Lenovo effort didn't really come to fruition, at least in the form originally intended, but Qualcomm has strengthened its position in the smartphone market, not least through its current monopoly on Windows Phone 7 phones.
We expect to get quite similar messages from Intel and NVIDIA at CES 2010, with the main difference being they will probably have end-product to show off this time. A lot of their thunder has been stolen by companies better known for producing end-products, with the two biggest tablets of the year - the iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab - containing SoCs designed by the respective tablet makers.
But Intel and NVIDIA will have another competitor to contend with in the tablet space this year, and a very familiar one at that. While AMD has been careful to keep talk of its ‘fusion' generation of chips appearing in tablets to a minimum, there's no doubting the excitement generated by the prospect of bringing PC-class processing and graphics to the tablet form-factor.
Both AMD and NVIDIA experienced a spike in their share prices last Tuesday for no immediately obvious reason, but it did coincide with a lot of forward-looking tablet talk. Only AMD really held onto those gains, and its participation in the tablet market remains the greater unknown quantity.
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