Nvidia gets behind Android

Nvidia CEO Jen Hsun-Huang come out boldly behind Google's Android OS in a pre-Computex address yesterday, backing the search outfit's offering over those from Microsoft.

"Windows is too big and it's too full-featured for smartbooks and tablets," Huang told assembled hacks.

"The good news is that we finally have an operating system to unite behind. Android is an operating system that has gained a tremendous amount of momentum all over the world," he said.

He lavished praise on the Google OS and the team that built it: "Andy Rubin and his team [of Googlers] know exactly where the industry needs to go. Android started out as a phone but it's not lost on them that the tablet is going to be very important and that the Android operating system has to evolve, and be enhanced in certain capabilities, in order to be a good tablet operating system," he enthused.

Obviously, it needs a bit of graphics support and that's where Nvidia comes in.

The battle for command of small computing devices - the space between and including smartphones and netbooks, or tablets - is hotting up and Intel and Microsoft are a long way from having it stitched up in the same way as they have dominated the PC space for decades. Huang sniffs an opportunity here.

"Android has become the fastest-growing mobile operating system in the world and, in fact, it has surpassed the iPhone in terms of growth and in terms of users," he said.

Huang pointed at the iPad as an example of the sort of device Android would slip nicely into.

"Apple sold one million iPads during the first four weeks it was on sale, winning praise from users for its sleek and intuitive user interface, as well as its long battery life. Matching Apple's success won't be easy and will require modifications to optimise Android for tablets," Huang said, suggesting that boosting graphics performance of Android devices was where Nvidia is a shoo-in.

Nvidia's Tegra 2 combines a dual-core Arm processor with Nvidia graphics and many expected to see devices featuring this chippery at Computex. Clearly Nvidia is some way off, though: "I think we'll have to wait until this fall, "Huang said. "The operating systems are coming together, the devices are coming together," he said.