Nvidia did certainly raise a few eyebrows over the last two years by being the first ARM SoC manufacturer to ship a dual core model back in 2010 and a quad core one last year, essentially bringing the short product cycles it adopted in the desktop graphics market to the SoC one.
Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang announced that users might be able to see a tablet this summer based on the Tegra 3 chipset and powered by Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, one which will not only rival the Apple iPad but also the Amazon Kindle and will cost only $199.
It is not known whether the tablet would come with the current quad core version of the Tegra 3 (which runs at 1.5GHz) or a simpler and cheaper model, VP Rob Csonger mentioned that "this [tablet] uses a lot of the secret sauce that's inside Tegra 3 to allow you to develop a tablet at a much lower cost" at the company's annual meeting of investors.
Nvidia has also worked with partners to decrease the bill of material for the tablet as a whole. It will use DirectTouch and Prism technologies as well as the more affordable DDR3L memory. It appears likely that by the end of the year, entry level tablets will be using Android while more powerful - and more expensive - ones will be Windows RT based.
The competition will be following Nvidia's moves closely. The move from dual core to quad core happened within a very tight window, less than two years, leaving other SoC manufacturers like TI, Qualcomm or ST-Ericsson with no quad core offering at the moment.
Only Huawei and Samsung, which both use their own proprietary system on chips in their own products, have jumped on the quad core bandwagon. What differentiates Nvidia's approach though is how aggressively it wants to push quad core technology into the mainstream. Whether or not it translates into tangible benefits for the end user - both in terms of performance and power consumption remains to be determined.