Nvidia Ups Android Ante At Mobile World Congress

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Nvidia has been a busy chip maker at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, winning praise for its Ion netbook platform, teaming up with Google and the Open Handset Alliance to build a Tegra-based Android smartphone, and promising the "world's first" $99 HD mobile Internet device (MID).

Nvidia's Ion platform was certified for Windows Vista last week. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based graphics chip maker is moving fast on Ion as the netbook segment takes off amid declining shipments of other PC form-factors and components. Nvidia's first Ion reference designs consist of an Intel Atom-based motherboard paired with Nvidia's GeForce 9400 onboard graphics processor, full CUDA support and a frankly ridiculous amount of I/O -- all built to load up netbooks with the kind of graphics and video capabilities lacking so far in these small, inexpensive laptops.

Nvidia also made a pair of moves Monday in Barcelona with its Tegra series of "computer-on-a-chip" processors. The first was to align with Google and the Open Handset Alliance -- the graphics chip maker is demonstrating an Nvidia Tegra APX 2600 chip running the Android open mobile phone software stack at the Mobile World Congress this week.

Meanwhile, the company's Tegra-based MID involves partnerships with Microsoft and ST-Ericsson -- the former providing its Windows Embedded CE operating system for the new device platform and the latter adding 3G communication capability.

Nvidia's MID platform "will enable OEMs to quickly build and bring to market devices that carriers can offer for as low as $99 -- bringing broadband connectivity and all of the Web's HD content to the masses," the company said in a statement.

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