Nvidia will continue manufacturing Tegra ARM-based processors for Windows RT tablets despite sluggish early sales of the devices, making the same commitment that Qualcomm has made, an Nvidia executive said Wednesday.
Windows RT tablets, such as the Surface RT, offer long battery life, a lightweight form factor and convenience, making them ideal for future generations of mobile users, said Rene Haas, Nvidia's vice president of computing products. Nvidia's next-generation Tegra 4 processors will run on "multiple" upcoming models of Windows RT tablets, he said.
"Nvidia is very invested and very committed to Windows RT, and we feel it has a bright future," said Haas said. "We feel this [platform] is where things are going."
In the first quarter, just 200,000 Windows RT tablets shipped. That figure, which includes Microsoft's Surface, represents just 0.4% of the 49.2 million tablets shipped overall on all platforms during the quarter, according to research firm IDC.
Commenting on those lackluster figures Haas said: "We're not discouraged by the start and very, very excited going forward."
Qualcomm provides ARM-based Snapdragon processors for some models of Windows RT tablets. Last week, a Qualcomm executive expressed faith in Windows RT, just as Nvidia did.
"It's very early in what is a very significant transition for the PC platform," Nvidia's Haas said. "If you step back and look at how we use computers today, everything is driven by mobile and access to information everywhere. Windows RT devices are very thin and have a very long battery life, and these are the key tenets of what a PC will look like in the future. Windows RT is an initial effort by Microsoft to move the PC into the tablet arena, which starts with RT powered by the ARM architecture."
Haas noted that ARM processors power 100% of the world's smartphones, primarily because ARM is an energy efficient design. "There's no reason to believe ARM won't have dominance in tablets as well," he added.
To improve sales of Windows RT devices, Haas said Microsoft should continue to add more apps to the Windows Store, which currently offers 65,000 apps. "The faster that growth continues, the better for the overall platform, but we're in the first inning of this ballgame and it's not over by any means," Haas said.
Despite comments by Nvidia CEO Jen Hsun Huang in March calling on Microsoft to provide an Outlook email client for Windows RT, Haas said, "I don't think Outlook's a have-to-have" for the next-generation Windows RT.
Huang told financial analysts in March: "If Outlook were to show up on RT, my life would be complete. I am one Outlook away from computing nirvana. Outlook god, please..."