CES Diary: Nvidia is the real winner at CES this year



Today is a press day at CES 2011, when journalists dash from conference to conference, with barely a second to grab photos of the latest TVs, tablet and phones, never mind time to actually write about them. Yet while I've sat through half a dozen different brands' big unveilings, one company has proved to be the real winner here: Nvidia.

8a. Nvidia is the real winner at CES 2011.jpg

You may not have heard of Nvidia. This computing giant works behind the scenes, putting the graphics card in your PC or laptop - and more recently your mobile phone or tablet. But based on what I've seen here today, you're going to be hard pressed to avoid it and its hardware in the coming year.

You see, while the likes of LG and Motorola will steal the headlines tonight with their swanky new Android smartphones and serious iPhone 4 rivals, the LG Optimus 2X and Motorola Atrix 4G respectively, Nvidia's hardware is powering both of them. Its Tegra 2 hardware, which combines a mobile processor and graphics on one chip, is finally shipping in phones.

But phones aren't the only portable gadget's the company is now powering. Nvidia is powering many of the tablets announced so far at CES too, such as Motorola and Toshiba's large Android tablets.

Not only that, but it dropped a massive bombshell on the desktop side of things which will have Intel in a cold sweat: it's making its own microprocessor for PCs and laptops - the beating heart of whatever machine you're reading these words on. Intel's ruled the roost in this area of the market for decades, but between this bold move and Microsoft's announcement today that Windows 8 will support a wide variety of processor types, Nvidia's shoved more fingers into more pies than ever before.

And this is just the start. Technically, CES 2011 doesn't even start until tomorrow, when the doors to the show floor are flung open for press and industry folk. You can bet we'll be seeing plenty more Nvidia powered devices on show, from respected brands and unknown entities alike.

We'll be there to check them out of course, and meanwhile, Nvidia's CEO Jen-Hsun Huang will be kicking back in his hotel suite, reading the news and rubbing his hands with glee. But you know what? From the brief hands on time with Tegra 2 devices we've had so far, he's earned a break.

CES Diary by James Holland