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nVidia Tegra computers to hit shelves this year

Chip allows MIDs to play HD video

nVidia has unveiled 12 mobile internet devices (MIDs) powered by its new Tegra chip, which will be available before the end of the year.

Built around an nVidia graphics processor and two Arm processor cores, Tegra packs nearly every component required for a computer on a motherboard that's slightly bigger than a stick of chewing gum. It also encodes a hardware encoder and decoder for full high-definition video playback.

Tegra consumes less than half a watt of power, allowing devices that use it to run for many hours on a single battery charge, even while remaining constantly connected to a cellular data network, said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO of nVidia.

"With the proliferation of 3G mobile networks, it's now perfectly clear that computing technology and communications will converge," Huang said.

The netbooks and tablets have been created in conjunction with the processor manufacturer's industry partners that include Compal Communications, Inventec and Wistron. The systems are expected to cost around $199 (£121) when they hit the market and could be as cheap as $99 (£60) if the price is subsidised by a mobile operator, nVidia said.

They will hit the market at roughly the same time as systems based on Qualcomm's Snapdragon processor, a rival chip that also uses an Arm processor core.

nVidia also revealed that work on the second generation Tegra processor is already underway. Tegra II will improve on Tegra by adding more powerful processor cores and increasing memory speed while also extending battery life, Nvidia said. The chips are set for production next year.

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