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Nvidia CEO Admits Tegra 4i Didn't Pan Out as Hoped

By , photograph by Marcus Yam - Source: CNET | B 33 comments

Nvidia's CEO talks about Tegra 4i, a $3,000 graphics card, and more.

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang recently spoke to CNET about why his company is no longer focusing on smartphones. He admitted that the Tegra 4i "didn't pan out," that in a business sense, it just wasn't the success Nvidia hoped for. The phone marketplace has commoditized extremely fast, he said, and it's not Nvidia's strategy to go after commodity phones.

"I think that I learned we are not a commodity player," he said. "Going after something that starts with mainstream should have discouraged us. At the time, it looked like our 4G solution was quite far ahead of the market...But that window's closing very quickly. We're just not a cost player."

Read more: Nvidia Tegra 4i Wiko Wax Hands-on with Benchmarks

Later on in the interview, CNET and Huang talked about paying $3,000 for a graphics card. He was asked how Nvidia made sure that whoever buys it won't see the card become obsolete two to three years down the road. After all, $3,000 is a lot of money; that amount could purchase a decent high-end gaming PC.

"Most of the customers that buy Titan Zs buy it every year," he said. "And the reason for that is the people who buy Titans and Titan Zs have an insatiable need for computing capability, graphics computing capability. So either they got tired of using just a 1,080p monitor, and they just bought a 4K. My Titan all of a sudden's not enough. For a 4K monitor, a $3,000 to $5,000 monitor, I need something bigger to drive it. So that's Titan Z."

Huang also admitted that Nvidia is currently working on a new Shield handheld system. He said that the Shield platform will be what the company will use to turn Android into a great gaming platform. He also said that Android is "an operating system that epitomizes the future of computing."

"It is arguably the world's best mobile operating system that's connected to the cloud," he said. "Cloud computing and mobile computing are intertwined in a way that can't be separated. I also think that cloud connected to mobile and mobile connected to cloud is essential to the future of gaming, as well...And so if the computer platform is evolving into mobile and cloud, there's no reason why we can't imagine that happening to gaming."

"Shield is our platform for making that possible," he added.

To read the full interview, head here.

Add your comment Display 33 Comments.
  • 2 Hide
    de5_Roy , May 20, 2014 10:38 AM
    "tegra 4i didn't pan out as hoped."
    No !@#$ sherlock! :D 
    instead nv got butkicking from mediatek. what excuse will they use when mediatek expands to high end?
  • -1 Hide
    cknobman , May 20, 2014 11:22 AM
    Huang is such a little twat.

    Cannot wait for him to leave that company.
  • 9 Hide
    derekullo , May 20, 2014 11:23 AM
    "The phone marketplace has commoditized extremely fast, he said, and it's not Nvidia's strategy to go after commodity phones."

    I believe his strategy is abandon ship.
  • 6 Hide
    twstd1 , May 20, 2014 11:24 AM
    You can buy a 1500 dollar R9-295x or a 1600 dollar set of 780Ti's and still get great performance in 4K. There is no justification for a $3000 Titan Z. NONE (well for gaming anyway). Unless you have 6K just laying around and you want MOAR pixles than your eye can handle. Then you can get two Titan Z's and win the internets forever! If you had that kind of rig and someone bumped into it, would you name it TITAN FALL Z??? lol Meh, to each their own I guess.
  • 0 Hide
    Martell1977 , May 20, 2014 11:32 AM
    At $3k for the Titanz, it better trounce the R9 295X2 or this guy is going to look rather stupid.For twice the price, even with diminishing returns, it better beat it by over 30%. Which is probably why it has been delayed.

    This is going to be an interesting year in the GPU market.
  • 7 Hide
    peterson99 , May 20, 2014 11:33 AM
    Anyone who's willing to pay $3000 for a graphics card probably doesn't care about the cards longevity. Sadly I'm not one of those people.
  • 2 Hide
    southernshark , May 20, 2014 11:44 AM
    Yeah I don't think this card is for people who care about price or for it lasting 3 years. They likely buy a new card and cpu every year or so. I wish I was one of those people, but aren't.

    Still though for 3k it has to really beat AMDs 1500 dollar model, or even those customers won't go for it.
  • -1 Hide
    suture , May 20, 2014 11:48 AM
    oh mediatek and their cheapy crappy easy selling arm socs.
    I would love to have a tegra 4 / k1 device, but the market lacks products with it.
    Till then i guess i will stick with snapdragon.
  • 5 Hide
    Vlad Rose , May 20, 2014 11:56 AM
    Nvidia definitely likes to blow a lot of smoke up people's rear ends. When it comes down to it though, they are almost never able to follow through with their hype. The Tegra 4i is one, the Shield is another, and the $3k Titan will definitely be another as well.
  • 1 Hide
    hahmed330 , May 20, 2014 1:40 PM
    If Tesla K40 costs $5300... Then a Titan Z worth $3000 makes sense ( although you miss out on ECC and few other features)... But definitely not for gaming unless you are making one hell of a micro atx machine...

    T4i I think is a pretty good processor considering it marginalizes snapdragon 600 only running at a lowly 1.7Ghz... even though it can run upto 2.3Ghz
  • 2 Hide
    Zeroplanetz , May 20, 2014 2:32 PM
    Well as someone who likes the windows platform I will not invest in a shield device that runs android. I also can't see spending that kind of money for a card that others will soon do for far less cost. BUT I may be in the minority that truly does not want my gaming in the cloud servers. I just don't have that much faith in companies to support a game for as long as I have it. Sorry NVIDIA. Your attitude has got to change somewhere.
  • 0 Hide
    Bondfc11 , May 20, 2014 2:34 PM
    I am not so sure that peeps that can afford a 3K-5K monitor (a 4K one) are just jumping from ho-hum 1080 panel and a 600 series card - even a 700 series card.

    Seems like a strange leap to say someone will go from 1080 to 4K and then realize they do not have enough GPU horsepower then drop an ADDITIONAL 3k on the card to drive a top of the line panel. Plenty of sub-$1000 4ks out there now (although they all stink for gaming atm.)
  • 0 Hide
    sykozis , May 20, 2014 6:34 PM
    Quote:
    I am not so sure that peeps that can afford a 3K-5K monitor (a 4K one) are just jumping from ho-hum 1080 panel and a 600 series card - even a 700 series card.

    Seems like a strange leap to say someone will go from 1080 to 4K and then realize they do not have enough GPU horsepower then drop an ADDITIONAL 3k on the card to drive a top of the line panel. Plenty of sub-$1000 4ks out there now (although they all stink for gaming atm.)

    Plenty of graphics cards out there that are capable of driving a 4K display for less than $3000...... GTX780Ti Tri-Fire would easily do the job for under $3000.... 3x R9 290X CF would also do the job.
  • 2 Hide
    palladin9479 , May 20, 2014 6:46 PM
    The Tegra performed was fine, it's problem was too much energy usage and too expensive which is unappealing in disposable devices. Shield seems to be a pretty solid platform, I ordered one after playing on my friends. There are a ton of cool and fun games on Android yet the UI limitations of smartphones really detract from what the game experience could be. Shield really competes with Nintendo's DS line and while Nintendo has a whole slew of exclusive titles, Shield's open Android support means anyone can produce content for it without the problems of obtaining a Nintendo license. I expect the Shield to eventually take market share away from Nintendo.
  • 0 Hide
    InvalidError , May 20, 2014 10:23 PM
    Considering how little traction Tegra4 got overall, if Huang bails out of smartphones due to market commoditization, it should be only a matter of time before he bails out of just about everything else battery-powered.

    With IGPs starting to compete with ~$100 discrete GPUs, I suppose Nvidia will bailing out of that market segment too.

    It is a slippery slope when you start giving up on markets because the feature/performance/cost bar is rising too quickly for your liking.
  • 0 Hide
    palladin9479 , May 20, 2014 10:52 PM
    Quote:
    It is a slippery slope when you start giving up on markets because the feature/performance/cost bar is rising too quickly for your liking.


    That's not why they left. The profit vs investment was too little for them to bother with. Companies do not have infinite resources nor infinite people, they need to pick and chose where they will leverage their capabilities in order to generate profit. NVidia simply decided there were too many low-cost low-margin players already in the smartphone market and that there wasn't a demand for a high powered / high cost graphics unit. They didn't cancel Tegra 4, quite the opposite. They used it in a special purpose hand held gaming device designed to run android games which is an emerging market. There is a demand from people for an open ended mobile gaming platform running Android, you can see this by the sheer volume of Blue Tooth enabled gamepads for consumers to turn their smartphones into a mobile gaming platform. NVidia noticed this and is now leveraging it's OpenGL graphics experience to produce a handheld special purpose gaming device that runs any Android game.

    So instead of trying to compete with Qualcomm, Broadcomm, Samsung, and all the rest, they targeted Nintendo.
  • 0 Hide
    tobalaz , May 20, 2014 11:17 PM
    The problem is lack of support.
    If a phone or tablet manufacturer wanted to use Nvidia chipsets they had to wait for Nvidia to write drivers to upgrade their version of Android. It's the EXACT reason Motorola bailed on using Tegra chips.
    All I can say is, I hope they continue to evolve Maxwell for desktops, I'm loving my GTX 750 ti and the amazing performance for virtually no power draw. It may never make it to phones but damn, its one hell of a chip.
  • 0 Hide
    teh_chem , May 21, 2014 6:03 AM
    I called this one a very long time ago, back when the 4i was still just a 'discussed product' by Nvidia. The sad part is, as respectable as the T4 is over its predecessors, the platform again fell victim to Nvidia's massive marketing hogwash about how it was going to be the best mobile processor, etc. Only to end up being surpassed by snapdragon at the high end vs. the 4, and snapdragon and mediatek at the low-medium end vs. the 4i. Even Microsoft didn't want to use the T4 in their surface (RT) tablets, and jumped ship to snapdragon.

    NV had 3 generations of mobile SoC failures, and 1 gen of moderate accomplishment. Never success.
  • 0 Hide
    InvalidError , May 21, 2014 7:29 AM
    Quote:
    That's not why they left. The profit vs investment was too little for them to bother with.

    So instead of trying to compete with Qualcomm, Broadcomm, Samsung, and all the rest, they targeted Nintendo.

    Who has Nintendo been losing mobile gaming market share to for the past six years? Mostly tablets and phones running Qualcomm, Broadcomm, Samsung and Mediatek SoCs.

    The market for single-purpose-built mobile gaming devices is shrinking mainly in favor of those commoditized multi-purpose devices. If Nvidia does not want to play that game, they might be better off bailing out right now and sparing themselves the embarrassment of losing an inevitable uphill battle. I have a hard time imagining Tegra being worth much if its key selling point remains acting as a remote terminal for PCs with Nvidia GPU(s) in them.
  • 0 Hide
    Bondfc11 , May 21, 2014 8:50 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    I am not so sure that peeps that can afford a 3K-5K monitor (a 4K one) are just jumping from ho-hum 1080 panel and a 600 series card - even a 700 series card.

    Seems like a strange leap to say someone will go from 1080 to 4K and then realize they do not have enough GPU horsepower then drop an ADDITIONAL 3k on the card to drive a top of the line panel. Plenty of sub-$1000 4ks out there now (although they all stink for gaming atm.)

    Plenty of graphics cards out there that are capable of driving a 4K display for less than $3000...... GTX780Ti Tri-Fire would easily do the job for under $3000.... 3x R9 290X CF would also do the job.


    Yup that was my point - I don't buy the logic that you get a killer 4K display and then must automatically say "now I must have a Z". Seemed a weird jump in logic by him.
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