Nvidia Responds to Kindle Fire HD Performance Claims

Thursday during a press conference in Santa Monica, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took the stage and revealed a batch of new products and services, one of which is the upcoming Kindle Fire HD. According to Bezos, the SoC of choice is Texas Instruments' own OMAP4470, designed to drive tablets, ultrathin laptops and other mobile computing devices. It's a dual-core chip, but Bezos made waves by claiming it's faster than Nvidia's popular quad-core Tegra 3 SoC.

According to the specs, the OMAP4470 is manufactured in 45-nm technology at TI's own fabs. Its maximum rated frequency is 1.8 GHz, and the LPDDR2 memory works at 466 MHz on a 32-bit wide BUS in dual-channel mode. The chip's GPU is based on Imagination's PowerVR SGX544 architecture, and is clocked at 384 MHz and packs a dedicated 2D core.

Despite being a quad-core SoC, Nvidia's Tegra 3 reportedly can only do 8 billion floating point operations per second whereas the OMAP4470 can do 12 billion. Even more, the Nvidia chip reportedly only has a 5.3 GB/s memory bandwidth whereas the TI solution has a wider 7.5 GB/s bandwidth thanks to the dual-channel LPDDR2.

Because of these differences, Bezos claims that the Texas Instruments dual-core chip is faster than Nvidia's quad-core Tegra 3. Naturally Nvidia wasn't going to sit around and leave that comparison unchallenged.

"It’s good to see companies continuing to use Tegra 3 as the standard they compare their products to," stated Igor Stanek, Nvidia Senior Product PR Manager EMEAI. "The immensely popular Nexus 7 has shown the capabilities of the Tegra 3 processor. You can’t measure the consumer’s overall experience with synthetic benchmarks. A better way to measure is with real world apps and use cases. Tegra 3 has shown time and time again that it delivers a great experience for consumers, whether they’re gaming, streaming video or using other apps."

We've heard this song and dance before. Basically it boils down to the relationship between the software developer and the chip maker. Nvidia could develop an SoC with enough horses to power a positronic brain, but if the software isn't coded to take advantage of the chip's unique qualities, then you have just another sluggish android with a child-like mentality. Throwing that software on another, more powerful chip may produce the same sloppy performance.

Despite the mine is bigger than yours debate, Nvidia's Tegra 3 solution currently resides in two of the four most important tablet platforms which speaks for itself in regards to who packs plenty of performance: Google's Nexus 7 and Microsoft's Surface RT. So far it's unknown what Barnes & Noble plans to pack into its Nook Tablet HD slated for a November release, but if Microsoft has anything to do with it, Tegra 3 will be the SoC of choice as well.

Here are some of the key benefits of the OMAP4470 SoC:

* Dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore with Symmetric Multiprocessing (SMP)
* IVA 3 multimedia accelerator
* Integrated PowerVR SGX544 GPU
* Dedicated 2D GPU
* Supports multiple screens
* Can support up to QXGA (2048 x 1536) resolution with UIs composed of multiple blended layers
* Dual-channel LPDDR2
* M-Shield mobile security technology
* USB 2.0 On-The-Go High Speed
* HDMI Output
* 1080p HD video performance
* 1080p Stereoscopic 3D video performance
* 20MP imaging performance per second – main camera
* 12MP imaging performance per second – dual cameras


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29 comments
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  • christarp
    The tegra 3 is old and there are far superior chips out right now.
    19
  • dgingeri
    Well, if they would have mad the Tegra with a decent memory controller (a common failing with Nvidia) it wouldn't be stomped on so much. I have a Tegra 2 tablet (Galaxy Tab 10.1) and that thing is slow, specifically because of the bad memory performance. It's barely faster than my old Samsung Captivate phone (Samsung Hummingbird single core processor.) It's not that hard and doesn't take that much power to put on a dual channel memory controller. Nvidia just couldn't get that right.
    16
  • Anonymous
    Why have 8 billion FLOPS if you can have 12 Million FLOPS?!

    Sorry that made me lol.
    15
  • Other Comments
  • Anonymous
    Why have 8 billion FLOPS if you can have 12 Million FLOPS?!

    Sorry that made me lol.
    15
  • vertigo_2000
    louislariosWhy have 8 billion FLOPS if you can have 12 Million FLOPS?!Sorry that made me lol.

    Saw that too... made me scratch my head.
    6
  • dgingeri
    Well, if they would have mad the Tegra with a decent memory controller (a common failing with Nvidia) it wouldn't be stomped on so much. I have a Tegra 2 tablet (Galaxy Tab 10.1) and that thing is slow, specifically because of the bad memory performance. It's barely faster than my old Samsung Captivate phone (Samsung Hummingbird single core processor.) It's not that hard and doesn't take that much power to put on a dual channel memory controller. Nvidia just couldn't get that right.
    16