Nvidia debuts graphics chip for handhelds

Looking to break away from its traditional PC graphics market, Nvidia Corp. introduced on Tuesday its first graphics chip, the GoForce 2150, designed to be used in handheld devices such as mobile phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs). The chip was unveiled at the Computex exhibition in Taipei.

Smaller than a fingernail, the GoForce 2150 includes a 64-bit 2-D graphics controller and supports over 70 different display interfaces, including TFT (thin-film transistor), LCD (liquid crystal display) and OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screens with a resolution of up to 320 pixels by 480 pixels, Nvidia said in a statement.

The chip's LCD controller allows fast-switching between dual screen interfaces, such as those found on clam-shell phone handsets with a small external display and a larger internal color screen, the company said.

Designed with camera phones in mind, the GoForce 2150 supports digital cameras with a resolution up to 1.3 megapixels and can support JPEG video capture, according to the company. The chip will enter volume production during the fourth quarter, it said.

Pricing was not disclosed.

Nvidia, which has long been a leading supplier of graphics chips for desktop PCs, sees a lucrative growth opportunity in graphics chips designed for handheld devices, said President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jen-Hsun Huang.

"For the last year or so, we have been investing in bringing a high-fidelity and rich multimedia experience through a multimedia processor for handhelds," Huang said, citing the company's acquisition last month of MediaQ Inc.

Demand for multimedia features such as digital cameras, video capture and mobile gaming will drive sales of handhelds and phones that offer high-end graphics capabilities in the coming years, he said.

"The type of explosive growth that we have seen in this particular marketplace is as exciting as when we first started Nvidia," Huang said. "Everybody in the world knows what they want. They have a cell phone and everybody that has a cell phone wishes they had a better one."

That translates into a large potential market for graphics chips designed to be used in handheld devices.

"We could see (sales of) hundreds of millions of little, tiny processors over the course of the next ten years," he said. "This is an incredibly exciting time for the handheld market."

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