CES 2011: Nvidia and LG launch first Tegra 2 Smartphone

Written by Harry Butler

January 6, 2011 // 5:24 p.m.

Tags: #android #arm #ces-2011 #flash-acceleration #lg #nvidia #optimus-2x #smartphone #superphone #tegra-2

CES 2011: Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang chose to use Nvidia's keynote speech at this year's CES show to highlight not only the massive uptake in mobile internet devices such as smartphones and tablets, but also to officially launch the world's first Tegra 2-powered phone, the LG Optimus 2X.

The smartphone market has grown at staggering pace in last few years, with iPhones and Android smartphones becoming ever more ubiquitous. However, it's fair to say that they haven't always, and in many ways still don't, deliver the user experiences we'd like. Flash support is still patchy (or just absent for iOS) and our demands still far outweigh what the current hardware can provide.

During the unveiling of the Google Android-powered Optimus 2X though, we were seriously impressed with the capabilities of the Tegra 2 powered device, which Huang dubbed the ';Super Phone, the next generation of smart.' We have yet to determine whether the Optimus 2X can fly or stop a speeding bullet, alas.

While the 1GHz dual-core ARM CPU of the Tegra 250 chip used in the Optimus 2X was first announced at last year's CES show, uptake has been slow, with mostly only tablets using the chip. Now Nvidia has secured a mobile phone partner for its technology, as well as also recently announcing that Tegra 2 chips will be used in the new Tesla electric car, the company will no doubt be hoping for a faster uptake in adoption.

During the keynote, Huang demonstrated many of the handset's features, not least full 1080p playback on an HDTV via an integrated mini-HDMI socket, and perhaps most importantly, hardware-accelerated Adobe Flash. While we didn't get to see if the handset could handle 1080p YouTube, demanding browser-based Flash games ran fantastically, opening up a whole new avenue for free mobile gaming without the need for app downloads.

This certainly looks to strengthen Adobe's position in its long running dispute with Apple, which has chosen not to support Adobe Flash in iOS in favour of HTML5. While he acknowledged the potential split between the two standards, Huang stated that, 'Our devices should be able to support either format.'

Jenson also took the opportunity to show off some of Tegra 2's graphics power, with the most impressive demo being Dungeon Defenders, an online action RPG built with the UE3 engine. It was shown being played in cross-platform multiplayer between a PC, PS3 and an Optimus 2X, all with the same core gameplay, level design and graphics.

Whether the adoption of Tegra 2 into phones will see a jump from smartphones to superphones remains to be seen. However, Samsung is also launching a smartphones based around an ARM 1.2GHz dual-core Hummingbird processor (albeit without the graphics and Flash acceleration properties of Tegra 2). Meanwhile, the dross-filled Android MarketPlace remains the OS's weak point.

Do you think that hardware-acceleration for Flash is important in a phone? Or do you take Apple's side and think that HTML5 is the way forward? Sad there was no new GeForce announcement in Nvidia's keynote? Let us know in the forums.

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