Nvidia's Huang points to mobile chip future

Nvidia's chief Jen-Hsun Huang has reaffirmed his company's commitment to mobile application processors, predicting tenfold growth in the next four years and claiming that it has only a single competitor in the market.

Speaking to a roundtable of journalists, Huang claimed that Nvidia will be making the transition from a graphics specialist to a mobile application processor specialist over the coming years. To illustrate his point, Huang claimed that its Tegra and related product lines will grow tenfold to $20 billion by 2015, while the graphics-only product lines will hit a mere $7 billion in the same time frame.

That's a major move for a company which has made its fortune in dedicated graphics chips, but one which is predictable: visitors to Nvidia's stand at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin last week saw a single desktop and two laptop systems on display in the corner, nearly hidden among the dozens of tablets and smartphones featuring Tegra processors that made up the majority of the display space.

Living up to his reputation as a somewhat outspoken representative of his company, Huang is reported by CNet to have poured scorn on Nvidia's competitors. "If you don't have a mobile strategy, you're in deep turd," Huang claimed in a comment clearly pointed to graphics rival AMD. "If you're not in mobile processors now, you're seven years too late."

Huang also surprised attendees at the meeting with the news that he considers Nvidia to have but a single competitor in the mobile chip market: Qualcomm. "We're the only person actively on the dance floor with Qualcomm," he claimed, dismissing companies such as Texas Instruments and Samsung who produce high-performance ARM-based chips of their own.

During the meeting, Huang also rubbished Intel's chances of capturing any significant portion of the mobile market with its low-power Atom chips, claiming that the x86-based products are "speaking the wrong language," in contrast to the ARM architecture basis for Nvidia's Tegra product line. He also claimed that Ultrabooks - Intel's big bet for the future of mobile computing - will ultimately lose out to devices like the Asus Transformer or the Motorola Atrix, which combine a large screen and keyboard with a low-power ARM-based processor.

The one area on which Huang was strangely silent was laptops: despite Microsoft having shown off several concept devices earlier this year at Computex, Nvidia is keeping quiet on its involvement in helping to bring ARM-based laptops to the market in time for the launch of Windows 8.