Samsung's announcement today of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 shows that, like Motorola, it is throwing in its lot with Nvidia, presenting an impressive challenge to Apple's upcoming iPad 2.
Samsung and Nvidia announced in Barcelona today at the Mobile World Congress that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet will run Google's Android 3.0 ("Honeycomb") software on top of the dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, the same software and chip being used by Motorola in its Xoom tablet.
"We've worked closely with Nvidia to raise the stakes again. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, with Honeycomb and Tegra 2, provides the optimal entertainment and multimedia experience without compromising the mobility Samsung is known for," Hyungmoon Noh, VP of Samsung's R&D Strategy Group, said in a statement.
Samsung's 10-inch tablet taps the Tegra 2 chip to drive "the first GPU-accelerated user interface designed for tablets and other larger-screen devices," Nvidia said in a statement. Nvidia's forte is designing GPUs, or Graphics Processing Units. With the Tegra 2, it couples an Nvidia GeForce GPU with dual-core processor design from ARM, more or less replicating what Motorola is doing internally with the Xoom.
Nvidia continued: "Tegra 2 enables consumers to engage in multitasking, [to] surf the Web quickly with fast-loading Web pages and Flash-based content, [and] enjoy console-quality gaming."
Both the Xoom and the Galaxy Tab should draw some attention away from Apple's iPad 2, which is also slated to have a dual-core processor, better graphics silicon, and a couple of cameras, as well as other features like more memory. To date, with the small exception of first-generation products like Samsung's 7-inch Galaxy Tab, Apple has had the tablet market pretty much to itself. Those days are likely over as heavyweights Google, Motorola, and Samsung bring their technological and marketing prowess to bear on the market.
And another interesting twist is that Samsung Semiconductor makes the A4 processor used in the iPad. The fact that Samsung has opted for Nvidia in its own 10-inch class tablet means there's some unusual chip-sourcing dynamics taking place between Apple and Samsung. (The 7-inch Galaxy Tab uses a Samsung chip.)
Other features of the 0.43-inch thick Galaxy Tab 10.1 include: a weight of 1.32 pounds, a 1,280x800-pixel resolution touch screen, standard Android user interface, support for 1080p HD video recording (at 24 frames per second) and playback (30fps), a back-facing 8-megapixel camera, front-facing 2-megapixel camera for video calls, and quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) which supports HSPA+. It also sports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 capability.
Samsung, however, did not indicate U.S. pricing and availability, or plans for a CDMA model.
The companies are also planning to bring out a new Android-based smartphone with a dual-core Nvidia chip.
Update: LG has announced the LG Optimus Pad at Mobile World Congress. This 8.9-inch tablet also taps Nvidia's Tegra 2 processor. The LG device has a 1280x768 WXGA resolution display, 1080p HD video decoding, and HDMI support.
Updated on February 14 at 2:25 p.m. PST: adding LG Optimus news.