At the recent International CES in Las Vegas, Gaming Illustrated met with the folks from NVIDIA to discuss the upcoming new Tegra 4 chipset. If you aren’t familiar with the technology the Tegra 3 is the much heralded chipset made popular in many Android-powered devices, such as the Google Nexus. We met up with Doug MacMillan, the Director of Marketing for Tegra, to discuss this powerful new chipset and if it really is a gamechanger in the world of mobile gaming.
Gaming Illustrated (SG): Sean Gibson at the NVIDIA booth, I’m here with Doug MacMillan, and Doug, could you tell us a little bit who you are and what you do with NVIDIA?
Doug MacMillan (NVIDIA): Yes, I’m the Director of Marketing for Tegra, and I’m working on the demos, messaging, and getting the excitement out and get people to understand all the stuff that’s going on with Tegra.
Gaming Illustrated (SG): I was here last year with Jordan Dodge, and was blown away by just how cool Tegra 3 was, and your message was, “console on a tablet” for that chipset. Let’s now talk Tegra 4, which has me really excited. What does it mean at a CPU and GPU level, Tegra 4 versus Tegra 3?
Gaming Illustrated (SG): The GPUs?
Doug MacMillan (NVIDIA): The GPUs we’re pretty proud of, so as we said with Tegra 3, console-quality gaming, we had 12 NVIDIA GPU cores. We’ve taken that 12 and racheted it up to 72 cores in the Tegra 4. It enables us to do just world-class stuff, and you can look at some of the examples with what we can do with textures and shading, fluidity, and there’s no frame drop. In addition to that you can see that the GPU at this point is the leading factor for the Tegra 4 chip.
Gaming Illustrated (SG): What feedback have you got from the gaming community about what they would want in a next generation for the Tegra 3, which is now this Tegra 4? For me, battery life was maybe more important than improving the graphical experiences, because the graphical experience is already good, but I want to play longer, I want to play more GTA: Vice City on my tablet, so how did you balance that? Where did you make your decisions?
Doug MacMillan (NVIDIA): The folks here [at NVIDIA] are gamers, it’s in their DNA, so they want maximum performance. They do want to play for longer, that’s why when we look at the overall output of the chip, we have two teams going in opposite directions. One is trying to maximize performance, the other one is trying to minimize the power draw. As I said before, 45% power reduction from T3 to T4.Gaming Illustrated (SG): The eye-popping thing, the real wow factor for me coming here, was that you’re outputting 4K resolution to a 4K TV. I see here you’ve got a reference tablet that has an output to a 4K TV, that’s pretty slick. Could you talk about what went into getting that feature in this next generation of tablets?
Doug MacMillan (NVIDIA): Yes, obviously it’s an emerging thing, it’s not mainstream yet, but the fact that we’re trying to always look over the horizon, with a combination of CPU and GPU performance. It enables us to do stuff, as you can see behind me, there’s no frame drop, it’s perfectly rendered on screen. It’s something we’re very proud of.
Gaming Illustrated (SG): Nice, and what’s been the general feedback for you? What have you been most excited about that folks have been giving you as feedback here at CES 2013?
Doug MacMillan (NVIDIA): I think the most exciting thing is everyone’s asking when can that have it? They look in things like Project Shield and say “I want to buy one, can you just take my money?” (laughs)
Gaming Illustrated (SG): And you’ve not made that announcement, and your partners have not announced any of the new tablets yet, but when can we maybe expect an announcement?
Doug MacMillan (NVIDIA): I think we’ll see announcements coming out very shortly.
Gaming Illustrated (SG): Thank you so much for joining us here at Gaming Illustrated.
Doug MacMillan (NVIDIA): Thank you.