HTC One X: A Big Win for Nvidia’s Tegra 3

on March 5, 2012

At this years Mobile World Congress HTC made an announcement that I found interesting. They announced that their latest and greatest smart phone the One X will run Nvidia’s latest processor named Tegra 3. Granted, Tegra has been making news winning a number of handset and tablet OEMs but the news that HTC has chosen Tegra 3 is of particular interest. The reason is because HTC has largely been extremely loyal to Qualcomm. HTC has been one of Qualcomm’s most loyal customers, launching all their flagship top tier devices with Qualcomm silicon. Taylor Wimberly at AndroidAndMe asks a similar question in his post called “Is Qualcomm losing their strongman grip on HTC.

HTC choosing Nvidia’s latest Tegra chip is a testament to the quality of the Tegra 3 architecture. As I pointed out in my my column, The Arm Wrestling Match, both Qualcomm and Nvidia have different approaches with their multi-core strategies. Both companies have viable strategies when it comes to their approach to multi-core and both are gaining design wins all over the industry. However, for Nvidia and Tegra, winning an HTC design was the first in many key strategic steps for Nvidia to get their silicon into a wider portfolio of OEMs.

For Nvidia, and Tegra in particular, winning the HTC One X is a big win. It is a testament to the Tegra 3 multi-core architecture and something that I believe signals the breadth and depth of not only Nvidia chips in 2012 but that quad-core is the new dual-core in smart phones and tablets in 2012.

Nvidia still has work to do however, they are working to build LTE support into Tegra 3, which we expect to be finalized in devices in the second half of 2012. LTE support into Qualcomm’s S4 is still an advantage for Qualcomm since modem technology is core to Qualcomm’s heritage. This is why it will be very interesting to see how Nvidia integrates their Icera acquisition into the Tegra roadmap.

For Nvidia Tegra has always had the advantage as a solution for tablets in terms of performance and won many tablet design wins. I have been waiting to see how Tegra and in particular now Tegra 3 generates broader support with smart phones. It looks as though the win of the HTC One X may signal the upwards trend for Tegra 3 in smart phones.

However we slice the fascinating competition between Nvidia’s Tegra and Qualcomm’s SnapDragon chipsets the main point remains clear–Quad core chipsets will invade devices of all shapes and sizes in 2012 and beyond.

The Verge’s Vlad Savov recently interviews Nvidia’s Tegra GM Mike Rayfield on Tegra 3. I encourage you to read that interview here. Also Fierce Wireless had a great interview with HTC lead product designer on the decision to use Tegra 3 in the One X, you can read that here.