Win CE better than Android, says Nvidia

6-01-09mbelanNvidia has confirmed it is working with Microsoft to optimize Windows CE for Tegra in so-called “smartbooks”, ARM powered netbooks.

Nvidia chose to work with Windows CE first, said Mike Rayfield, general manager for Nvidia’s mobile business unit,  because it "is a rock-solid operating system that has been shipped billions of times."

Windows CE also has a "low memory footprint and a good collection of apps," Rayfield said.

Nvidia is also working with Google to accelerate Android when running on Tegra hardware. But it will be about a year before that delivers for smartbooks, due to existing limitations in Android, he said.

For instance, Android screen icons that fit on smartphone screens (usually 4-inches and under) are oversized on a smartbook’s 8- or 9-inch screen. Also, all video and graphics rendering in Android is done today by the operating system’s Java code, a technique he says is too slow for HD video.

"There’s no hardware acceleration. It’s all software," Rayfield said. "Everyone’s talking about Android for cell phones, but the reality doesn’t exist for the larger displays [of a smartbook.]"

Nvidia has garnered 42 design wins from 27 different manufacturers all building devices using Tegra, said Rayfield. More than half of the wins (26) are for smartbook or tablet designs. Those can arrive to market in just six months, versus two years for smartphones designed for telecom carriers, Rayfield said.

Rayfield echoed comments by Nvidia executives during its analyst day on Tuesday that Tegra could make up more than half of Nvidia’s sales ($3.4 billion in fiscal year ending January 2009) very soon.

"It’s an aggressive statement, no doubt. But we’ve got a pretty good pipeline," Rayfield said. Also, it won’t be long before consumers, rather than re-ripping Blu-ray movies to watch on different devices, will expect to be able to carry a single, HD-quality version of their videos around with them for easy sharing and viewing on large-screen TVs.

Nvidia is also improving Tegra for use on Windows Mobile, a close variant of Windows CE, for ARM-based smartphones. Tegra bundles an ARM CPU (the 750 MHz ARM 11) with specialized chips designed by Nvidia for graphics, HD video encoding and decoding, stereo sound and more. The next generation of Tegra due early next year will boast 4 times the performance of today’s version, while the 2011 update will improve performance 10 times over today’s, he said.

Read more at Computerworld here.