by CIO Staff

Computex: Nvidia Bets on Windows for Smartphone Growth

Jun 08, 20062 mins

In a bid to convince developers to use its graphics processing unit (GPU) processors, Nvidia has launched a rapid development kit for Windows-based smartphones.

The kit integrates the company’s GoForce 5500 chip with Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 5.0, allowing handset makers to get their new products on store shelves faster, Nvidia said Wednesday at the Computex trade show.

A GPU is a secondary processor dedicated solely to graphics, freeing the main chip to manage primary system tasks.

Nvidia’s new MobileMedia Platform works by linking that GPU with drivers, middleware and application programming interfaces for processors from Intel and Freescale Semiconductor.

i310 8GB Smartphone
i310 8GB Smartphone

That can halve a developer’s design schedule from 12 months to six months, said Michael Rayfield, general manager of the handheld business unit for Nvidia in Santa Clara, Calif.

Nvidia’s new platform represents a bet that Windows will win the battle to become the dominant OS on mobile electronics.

“We believe it’s just a matter of time before Windows, with its huge third-party network, wears away the competitors and takes over market share from Symbian and Palm,” said Rayfield.

The kit can also empower developers to add extra features, creating smartphones that can rival the audio quality of Apple’s iPod and the 3D graphics display quality of handheld gaming units like Sony’s PlayStation Portable. That is because a dedicated graphics processor can handle multimedia tasks far more efficiently than a general purpose processor.

“In the untethered world of handsets, you can’t afford to throw a 2GHz CPU at this capability because it kills your battery,” Rayfield said.

Multimedia 3G devices already using Nvidia’s GoForce chips include smartphones from Kyocera, Motorola and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications.

Modeo DVB-H Smartphone
Modeo DVB-H Smartphone

Nvidia thinks the new platform will attract many more developers. The market for media-rich mobile devices will rise from 150 million in 2007 to nearly 700 million units in 2011, the company said.

Already, three companies announced at Computex they had used Nvidia’s platform to design their new products. Samsung Electronics’ i310 smartphone and Modeo’s Forseer mobile TV smartphone (manufactured by HTC) are due out in the second half of 2006, and ReignCom’s iRiver G10 gaming device released in May.

-Ben Ames, IDG News Service (Boston Bureau)

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