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Patent Filing Reveals Nvidia May Build Tiny Computers

By - Source: USPTO | B 50 comments

Not every patent results in an actual product. However, if this patent filing has any substance in Nvidia's product plans, then there is a good chance that Nvidia will soon play a much bigger role in CPU manufacturing and even compete with PC vendors.

The "portable computer system" is described as a small computer that is about the size of a USB memory stick.

Nvidia's filing outlines the idea of packing a Tegra processor, Flash storage, RAM, at least one USB port, and other interface types such as a parallel port, a serial port, IEEE 1394 (Firewire), VGA, HDMI, S-Video, AV, DVI, LAN and WiFi into a package that is just 40-60 mm long, 10-20 mm wide and 5-10 mm thick. The feature set would be comparable to a entry-level computer system with limited storage and cloud connectivity.

Of course, it would not be a powerful local gaming rig, but most likely enough to bring along on a key chain. There is no display; the idea is to plug the device into an LCD or TV to be used as a display or into a regular computer to perform simple computing tasks much more efficiently as the device will consume just about 10 watts.

One could argue that much of the potential features are already covered by smartphones, but this Nvidia Tegra system could be substantially cheaper than a smartphone. In volume production, Nvidia could push the bill of materials well below $100, which could make it the most affordable new computer on sale.

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  • 15 Hide
    keyanf , November 2, 2011 5:08 PM
    If old Radio Shack ads are any indication, old bulky desktops were known as "little computers" back in the day.

    If this is now a "little computer", I have to wonder what the term will refer to in a decade or two.
  • 12 Hide
    WyomingKnott , November 2, 2011 6:13 PM
    Good lord, they are trying to patent the idea of putting all the components for a computer into a single box!
  • 10 Hide
    clonazepam , November 2, 2011 5:27 PM
    I could imagine having this thing plugged into an available hdmi slot on a typical monitor or television. With Wi-Fi capabilities and a usb port(s) for keyboard/mouse, or bluetooth capable for wireless keyboard/mouse, I could leave the typical desktop machine powered off and use this lil guy to surf the web and post on Tom's, for under a $100? That should be a worthwhile long-term power saving device. There's certainly plenty of other alternatives to achieve the same goals, but choice is always welcome. I wouldn't buy it but it could be useful to some people.
Other Comments
  • 15 Hide
    keyanf , November 2, 2011 5:08 PM
    If old Radio Shack ads are any indication, old bulky desktops were known as "little computers" back in the day.

    If this is now a "little computer", I have to wonder what the term will refer to in a decade or two.
  • -9 Hide
    loomis86 , November 2, 2011 5:16 PM
    It probably will need to be under 50 bucks or no one will buy.
  • 8 Hide
    xx_pemdas_xx , November 2, 2011 5:21 PM
    will work good as a terminal for a root server :) 
    hope they can run linux.
  • 10 Hide
    clonazepam , November 2, 2011 5:27 PM
    I could imagine having this thing plugged into an available hdmi slot on a typical monitor or television. With Wi-Fi capabilities and a usb port(s) for keyboard/mouse, or bluetooth capable for wireless keyboard/mouse, I could leave the typical desktop machine powered off and use this lil guy to surf the web and post on Tom's, for under a $100? That should be a worthwhile long-term power saving device. There's certainly plenty of other alternatives to achieve the same goals, but choice is always welcome. I wouldn't buy it but it could be useful to some people.
  • 0 Hide
    loomis86 , November 2, 2011 5:34 PM
    keyanfIf old Radio Shack ads are any indication, old bulky desktops were known as "little computers" back in the day.If this is now a "little computer", I have to wonder what the term will refer to in a decade or two.


    in one decade there will be such incredible changes I don't think people realize what is coming and how soon it will be here. The very word "computer" may no longer have meaning ten years from now. The IBM "watson" computer will be ordinary tech in a desktop size by then and owned by private individuals. In two decades I'm thinking personal android assistants will be available. The technological singularity is expected to arrive in 2045 if current rate of technology acceleration continues.
  • 3 Hide
    _Pez_ , November 2, 2011 5:36 PM
    This Sounds Great Idea ! I would buy one even if it works for web and documents.
  • -9 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , November 2, 2011 5:46 PM
    xX_PEMDAS_Xxwill work good as a terminal for a root server hope they can run linux.


    Forget it, your stupid Linux never had good hardware support and never will, since open source fools are stubborn and refuse to accept proprietary drivers easily. So unless nVidia will develop it for Linux from day 1 and support it (which is sooooo not likely!), expect a ton of issues. Linux users like them, it's why they don't need gaming - they play with their OS all the time instead.
  • 5 Hide
    aevm , November 2, 2011 5:46 PM
    This could be very neat if you go to client sites to provide support or give demos. You can travel light, no more laptop to carry... But, will this Tegra processor run PowerPoint or whatever software you want to run?


  • 4 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , November 2, 2011 5:49 PM
    clonazepamI could imagine having this thing plugged into an available hdmi slot on a typical monitor or television. With Wi-Fi capabilities and a usb port(s) for keyboard/mouse, or bluetooth capable for wireless keyboard/mouse, I could leave the typical desktop machine powered off and use this lil guy to surf the web and post on Tom's, for under a $100? That should be a worthwhile long-term power saving device. There's certainly plenty of other alternatives to achieve the same goals, but choice is always welcome. I wouldn't buy it but it could be useful to some people.


    Got a netbook for all that already :D  I'd buy this thing just for the hell of it if it'd be cheap - I think this is what nVidia is hoping for. Don't see any real use for it right now.
  • 5 Hide
    i8cookiemonster , November 2, 2011 5:50 PM
    Looks like someone already beat nvidia to this...
    http://www.raspberrypi.org/
  • 10 Hide
    juncture , November 2, 2011 5:52 PM
    Sounds similar to the $25 raspberry pi computer.
  • 7 Hide
    Zagen30 , November 2, 2011 6:00 PM
    loomis86in one decade there will be such incredible changes I don't think people realize what is coming and how soon it will be here. The very word "computer" may no longer have meaning ten years from now. The IBM "watson" computer will be ordinary tech in a desktop size by then and owned by private individuals. In two decades I'm thinking personal android assistants will be available. The technological singularity is expected to arrive in 2045 if current rate of technology acceleration continues.


    Let's not get ahead of ourselves. We've been prognosticating for several decades that a lot of technology, such as robots, flying cars, cheap space travel, etc. were only X years away, and many of those things are still a long ways away. The big technological leaps tend to be ones few were predicting.
  • 3 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , November 2, 2011 6:11 PM
    Zagen30Let's not get ahead of ourselves. We've been prognosticating for several decades that a lot of technology, such as robots, flying cars, cheap space travel, etc. were only X years away, and many of those things are still a long ways away. The big technological leaps tend to be ones few were predicting.


    Thank you. So sick of this "ZOMG, in 10 years everything is gonna be SO different.."
  • 12 Hide
    WyomingKnott , November 2, 2011 6:13 PM
    Good lord, they are trying to patent the idea of putting all the components for a computer into a single box!
  • 1 Hide
    aevm , November 2, 2011 6:18 PM
    keyanfIf old Radio Shack ads are any indication, old bulky desktops were known as "little computers" back in the day. If this is now a "little computer", I have to wonder what the term will refer to in a decade or two.


    The Eniac, in 1946, could do something like 400 multiplications per second. It weighed 27 tons.

    In the 90's supercomputers were getting close to 1 GFLOP. That's 2.5 million times better.

    China had a computer performing at 2.5 Petaflops in 2010. That's another 2.5 million times better.

    At this rate, I'd say the supercomputers of 2030 will be pretty good.


    As for the computers you will buy for home... These days a GTX 560 claims 1075 GFLOPs. That's like the supercomputer of 20 years ago, but 1000 times faster and 1000 times smaller and many thousands of times cheaper. And that's the graphics card I did NOT buy after all, because I wanted something a little faster, LOL.

    What will happen in another 20 years? At this rate, a mainstream card will be the size of a nickel, it will cost a nickel, and two or three of them in SLI will beat China's supercomputer of 2010.

  • 2 Hide
    clonazepam , November 2, 2011 6:45 PM
    amk-aka-phantomGot a netbook for all that already I'd buy this thing just for the hell of it if it'd be cheap - I think this is what nVidia is hoping for. Don't see any real use for it right now.


    Bah you missed the point of being able to browse the web on a 19-30" monitor at resolutions from 720p to 1080p, and type on a standard size keyboard. If I had a netbook, I wouldn't look to use it at home. :p 
  • 7 Hide
    ikyung , November 2, 2011 6:46 PM
    Zagen30Let's not get ahead of ourselves. We've been prognosticating for several decades that a lot of technology, such as robots, flying cars, cheap space travel, etc. were only X years away, and many of those things are still a long ways away. The big technological leaps tend to be ones few were predicting.

    Well, one of the main reasons technology isn't evolving as fast as we thought it would is because there has been a bottleneck for the past 100 years. Which is energy. It isn't the fact we don't know how to build flying cars, laser guns, cheaper space travel. It is the fact electricity and fossil fuel is just too weak to handle such devices. Nuclear energy on the other hand is just too dangerous to be used by consumers. Guaranteed, the second there is a new, powerful, reliable, and safe power source, that technology will leap and move so fast, we won't be able to keep up.
  • -1 Hide
    SteelCity1981 , November 2, 2011 6:47 PM
    By the time 2045 roles around we better have minority report type of technology. :) 
  • 1 Hide
    Cazalan , November 2, 2011 6:52 PM
    Marvell has been selling these for a while now. They're called Plug Computers. They start around $99.

    http://www.marvell.com/solutions/plug-computers/

    They essentially are cell phones without the LCD.
    Granted a Tegra-3 or Tegra-4 would make for a MUCH faster one.
  • 0 Hide
    clonazepam , November 2, 2011 6:53 PM
    ikyungWell, one of the main reasons technology isn't evolving as fast as we thought it would is because there has been a bottleneck for the past 100 years. Which is energy. It isn't the fact we don't know how to build flying cars, laser guns, cheaper space travel. It is the fact electricity and fossil fuel is just too weak to handle such devices. Nuclear energy on the other hand is just too dangerous to be used by consumers. Guaranteed, the second there is a new, powerful, reliable, and safe power source, that technology will leap and move so fast, we won't be able to keep up.


    Yeah. We have the technology to develop and build devices that could be sent up into the ozone layer and repair it. It's financially unavailable, similar to many things being restricted by the power sources.

    Anyway... it'd be nice to browse the web for under 50 watts total - power for: display, computer, interface devices like keyboard/mouse, modem, and router... Maybe someday... to the experts, how close are we realistically? :D 

    Maybe if I pump a bunch of hamsters full of growth hormones and get them to spin up an alternator... hmmm... Ok, I'm just going to stop here... lol
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