In the first big announcement of this year's Consumer
Electronics Show, NVIDIA announced Tegra 4, a new
portable gaming device along with cloud gaming
Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang introduced the company's
first-ever gaming portable, called 'Project SHIELD,'
and a set of cloud technologies that delivers games
where and when you want them. He also unveiled the
fourth-generation of NVIDIA's Tegra mobile processor,
loaded with graphics capability.
Project SHIELD, a gaming portable for open platforms,
is fitting in the hand. The device is equipped with a
controller, a 1280x720 HD retinal multitouch display,
with 294 dpi and audio that according to Nvidia "blows
out high-end laptops."
The game controller features 2 concave
thumbsticks, a 360-like D-pad , 4 face buttons, and 4
shoulder triggers/buttons (2 on each side). Powering
the device will be 38 watt-hours of Lithium-Ion battery
On the back side of the handheld are a micro-HDMI for
display output (4K resolution supported), micro-USB for
data connectivity, and a standard 3.5": audio jack for
Project SHIELD can be used to play on its own
integrated screen or on a big screen, and on the couch
or on the go.
As an Android device, it plays titles from Google's
Play store, but has been also designed to allow users
play both Android and Windows games,
Finally, on the software side of things NVIDIA is also
going to be offering a level of integration between
Project Shield and their GeForce products. By
leveraging the Video Codec Engine video encoder inside
their recent GTX 600 video cards, Project Shield
devices will be able to connect to PCs to do remote
However, the Shield is targeting enthusiasts from the outset, if only because of its hefty system requirements. That streaming option requires host computers to pack Nvidia's latest and greatest graphics card, the GTX 650 (or the GTX 660M on laptops). Additional minimum specifications call for an Intel i5 chip, Windows 7, and 4GB of memory.
Project SHIELD can also access Android apps such as
Hulu, Netflix and Slacker Radio.
Android-optimized titles are available on NVIDIA's
TegraZone store. And gamers can access PC titles from
their STEAM catalogue.
"Project SHIELD was created by NVIDIA engineers who
love to game and imagined a new way to play," said
Jen-Hsun Huang, co-founder and chief executive officer
at NVIDIA. "We were inspired by a vision that the rise
of mobile and cloud technologies will free us from our
boxes, letting us game anywhere, on any screen. We
imagined a device that would do for games what the iPod
and Kindle have done for music and books, letting us
play in a cool new way. We hope other gamers love
SHIELD as much as we do."
Shield will launch in Q2 but Nvidia did not provide any
pricing details - the company said the price would be
"competitive with other mobile gaming systems and
The muscle for Project SHIELD is Tegra 4, which
Jen-Hsun introduced as the world's most powerful
Previously codenamed "Wayne," Tegra 4 is built on
TSMC's 28nm HPL (28nm low power with high-k + metal
gates) and features 72 custom NVIDIA GeForce GPU cores
-- or six times the GPU horsepower of Tegra 3. It
includes the first quad-core application of ARM's most
advanced CPU core, the Cortex-A15, which is clocked at
1.9GHz max and promises to deliver 2.6x faster web browsing and
high performance for apps.
The fifth/companion core is also a Cortex A15, but synthesized to run at lower frequencies/voltages/power.
This extra core isn't visible to the OS, it's not big.LITTLE but it'll work similarly to how Tegra 3 worked.
Tegra 4 also enables worldwide 4G LTE voice and data
support through an optional chipset, the
fifth-generation NVIDIA Icera i500 processor.
The processor is built on TSMC's 28nm HP (High Performance) High-K Metal Gate process. NVIDIA claims the i500 is more efficient and 40 percent the size of conventional
modems and that it delivers four times the processing
capability of its predecessor. The i500 can also actively power gate each of the individual 8 processing cores inside as load conditions change or depending on the software package loaded onto the modem.
NVIDIA's i500 will launch with LTE UE Category 3
(100Mbps downlink) support. A later release will enable UE Category 4 LTE.
"Tegra 4 provides enormous processing power and
efficiency to power smartphones and tablets, gaming
devices, auto systems and PCs," said Phil Carmack,
senior vice president of the Tegra business at NVIDIA.
"Its new capabilities, particularly in the area of
computational photography, will help improve a whole
range of existing products and lead to the creation of
exciting new ones."
Among the Tegra 4 processor's breakthroughs is its
Computational Photography Architecture, which
automatically delivers high dynamic range (HDR) photos
and video by fusing together the processing power of
the GPU, CPU and the camera's image-signal processor.
Its HDR capability captures images, including those
taken with a flash, the way they are seen by the human
eye -- with detail in both bright and dark areas.
Designed for maximum energy efficiency, Tegra 4
includes a second-generation battery saver core for low
power during standard use, and PRISM 2 Display
technology to reduce backlight power.
Nvidia claims that Tegra 4 consumes up to 45 percent
less power than its predecessor, Tegra 3, in common use
cases. And it enables up to 14 hours of HD video
playback on phones.
Tegra 4 Key Features
- GeForce GPU with 72 custom cores
- Quad-core ARM Cortex-A15 CPU, plus a 2nd Generation
Battery Saver Core
- Computational Photography Architecture
- LTE capability with optional Icera i500 chipset
- 4K ultra-high-def video support
Jen-Hsun also gave an update on NVIDIA's strategy to
snap the leash, by enabling this heavy lifting to be
done in the cloud and then streamed instantly to the
consumer. He said that half dozen pioneering companies
are preparing to use it to deliver gaming services to
broadband companies around the globe.
They'll doing so by deploying the NVIDIA GRID Cloud
Gaming Platform to offer the interactivity of
high-performance PC gaming on any connected screen. As
a server with specialized hardware and
streaming and virtualization software, it promises to
simultaneously deliver up to 36-times more HD-quality
game streams than first-gen cloud-gaming systems. And
it does so while reducing lag.
The NVIDIA GRID Platform enables the seamless
interactive experience of a high-performance gaming PC
anywhere, on any screen -- including smart TVs, PCs,
tablets and smartphones.
NVIDIA GRID is a server designed to concurrently serve
up to 36 times more HD-quality game streams than
first-generation cloud-gaming systems, while reducing
lag. It is fully integrated with a high density of
NVIDIA GPUs, specialized graphics-application streaming
software and NVIDIA VGX Hypervisor technology, which
allows multiple users to share a GPU.
Nvidia's initial partners on the NVIDIA GRID Platform
include Agawi (United States); Cloud Union (China); Cyber Cloud Technologies (China); G-cluster Global
(Japan); Playcast Media Systems (Israel); and Ubitus
"By using the NVIDIA GRID Platform, our partners will
allow gamers to play anywhere, anytime, without being
tethered to a box," said Phil Eisler, general manager
of cloud gaming at NVIDIA. "The world's most exciting
games can now be played as easily as you can stream a
movie, right onto your TV or mobile device. No more
discs to shuffle or files to download and install. Just
click and play."
The NVIDIA GRID Platform is moving high-end gaming to
the cloud, eliminating the need for users to manage
game discs or fit game consoles next to flat-screen
According to Nvidia, the GRID Platform delivers three key attributes:
- It provides the highest number of
concurrent, interactive data streams by using multi-GPU
servers and sophisticated NVIDIA VGX GPU-sharing
technology. Each server can deliver up to 36 game
- The software and drivers enable interactive
streaming of the widest range of games -- from casual
games using low-graphics capabilities with a high
density of streams, to high-performance titles
requiring high-graphics capabilities.
- It delivers streamed content for seamless
interaction without noticeable lag or latency. Nvidia
claims that the GRID technology reduces game server
latency by up to 30 milliseconds compared to prior
solutions, which effectively hides the network delivery
At a CES event this week, NVIDIA will demonstrate the NVIDIA GRID
Platform streaming games to an LG 55LA6900 Smart TV at
1080p resolution. Among the high-performance games that
will be shown are "Assassin's Creed III" by Ubisoft.