A Phone That's a Beauty on the Outside–A Monster Inside

At Nvidia’s press conference today, CEO and co-founder Jen-Hsun Huang admitted this was going to be a promiscuous CES for the company.

Nvidia, which builds tiny computer processors to help devices display graphics, games, video and more on phones, will be found all over the show floor, demonstrating products in conjunction with wireless carriers, automotive makers, handset makers and others.

And for those looking for even more from Huang –and maybe a demo that works– he’ll be appearing on stage with my colleague Ina Fried at our own D at CES event on Friday.

The biggest partnership of all, however, was not announced–a rumored relationship with Microsoft that will likely be unveiled later today, Huang hinted. [Update: that news can be found here.]

What Nvidia was willing to talk about was its plans to build high-performance ARM-based CPU cores, designed to support future products ranging from personal computers and servers to workstations and supercomputers. Up until now, the project was code-named “Project Denver.”

However, Nvidia spent most of the time talking about its new Tegra 2 processor, which is designed to efficiently display Internet content and games–on par with the quality of a console–on a cellphone. That means a compact design that provides the same quality but helps preserve battery life.

Nvidia’s Huang demonstrated the capabilities of the chip with the help of LG, which made an appearance onstage to show off the new Optimus 2X, a new Android phone. Loaded with a Tegra 2, one of the head honchos from LG described the phone as “a beauty on the outside–a monster on the inside.”

Huang plugged the phone into a giant HDTV to demonstrate the chip’s capabilities. He played Angry Birds and navigated a few apps on the homescreen.

But one of the big pushes is in viewing Adobe Flash, and the demo gods were against them. The wireless network was slow, prompting Huang to ask the packed crowd of reporters to spare a bit of bandwidth for him.

“I feel like I am on 56K here,” Huang said. “Oh you guys suck,” he joked.

Huang said the company brought in technology to block others from hogging the bandwidth, but people were using it anyway. “You guys really suck,” he said to more laughs.

More demonstrations were made with videogames, and even other demos failed, including a video chat over Skype.

After it was all said and done, Nvidia served lunch.


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