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nVidia debuts video chip for handhelds

Graphics specialist goes after mobile device market

Looking to break away from its traditional PC graphics market, nVidia has introduced its first graphics chip, the GoForce 2150, designed to be used in handheld devices such as mobile phones and PDAs. The chip was unveiled at the Computex exhibition in Taipei, which runs until the end of the week.

Smaller than a fingernail, the GoForce 2150 includes a 64bit 2D graphics controller and supports over 70 different display interfaces, including TFT, LCD and Oled (organic light-emitting diode) screens, with a resolution of up to 320x480 pixels.

The chip's LCD controller allows fast-switching between dual-screen interfaces, such as those found on clamshell phone handsets with a small external display and a larger internal colour screen.

Designed with cameraphones in mind, the GoForce 2150 works with digital cameras with a resolution up to 1.3Mp and can support Jpeg video capture. The chip will enter volume production during the fourth quarter.

Pricing has not been announced.

NVidia, which has long been a leading supplier of graphics processors for desktop PCs, sees a lucrative growth opportunity in video chips designed for handheld devices, according to 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.

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 explosive growth that we have seen in this particular marketplace is as exciting as when we first started nVidia," Huang said.

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 tiny processors over the course of the next 10 years," he said. "Everyone that has a mobile phone wishes they had a better one."

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