Microsoft's Kin Two carries aging Nvidia Tegra chip

Kin Two is powered by Nvidia's Tegra APX2600, which could be outdated later this year

Semiconductor research firm Chipworks has disassembled Microsoft's Kin Two smartphone to find that the device is powered by an aging Tegra chip from Nvidia that could be outdated by the end of this year.

Nvidia's Tegra APX2600 chip, which is at the heart of the Kin Two, belongs to the first generation of Tegra processors introduced close to two years ago, which are due to be replaced by the next-generation Tegra 2 chips by the end of this year. Nvidia announced Tegra 2 chips earlier this year and said the first smartphones using them would start shipping in the fourth quarter.

Nvidia has said that the Tegra 2 chips could be up to four times faster than their predecessors and will be able to play 1080p high-definition video. The chip is also more power efficient than the original Tegra chips.

Microsoft announced the Kin One and Kin Two smartphones in April. The touch-screen phones are aimed at a younger audience that wants fast access to social-networking services. Nvidia said the Kin phones are the first Tegra-powered smartphones, and that the chips bring advanced graphics capabilities, such as 720p video playback capabilities, with the low-power consumption needed by mobile phones.

It is unlikely Microsoft would have scrapped Tegra from its plans in the aftermath of Tegra 2's announcement, analysts said. The Tegra APX2600 has strong multimedia features and is adequate to meet Kin's social networking requirements, analysts said. The chip already powers Microsoft's Zune HD portable media player.

The first-generation Tegra brings a great visual experience to the smartphone, said Bruce Chan, a spokesman with Nvidia. He declined to comment if the Tegra 2 chips will be implemented in the smartphones anytime soon.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The Tegra chip combines an Arm-based processor, a GeForce graphics core and other components. Chipworks officials said the APX2600 offers the ability to shoot video at up to 720p resolution. That has helped reduce the number of chips that would otherwise be needed in smartphones to handle graphics and video.

Smartphone makers were initially cautious about Tegra, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64. It was Nvidia's first smartphone chip, and questions surrounded Nvidia's long-haul commitment to the market. Nvidia, which is best known for its graphics cards, is competing against companies like Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Apple and Intel in the smartphone space.

"When Nvidia came out with the Tegra chip they didn't have the relationship with [companies]... that design and manufacture the smartphones," Brookwood said. It was a safer bet for smartphone makers to go with chips from TI or Samsung.

But device makers started gaining confidence in Nvidia when they came out Tegra 2. That's when companies starting seriously considering the chip for smartphones, Brookwood said.

Besides uncertainty surrounding Tegra, the design, implementation and regulatory approval cycle for smartphones can also take time, Brookwood said. By the time some smartphones end up reaching the market their chips are no longer cutting-edge.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoftsmartphonetegranvidiaarm processorKin TwoGeForce

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?