Amazon and Apple Take Turns Bashing NVIDIA; Google Offers Consolation

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Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) sure had a handful of surprises up its sleeve this past week, when it unveiled an army of tablets, targeting both Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Nexus 7 and Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPad.

However, there was one significant surprise under the hood. Contrary to rumors leading up to the event, Amazon.com decided not to use a quad-core NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA  ) Tegra 3 and instead stuck with Texas Instruments (Nasdaq: TXN  ) and its OMAP processors. This is important on a few levels. NVIDIA has been scoring design wins hand over fist among tablets, while TI has decidedly not.

In fact, I had virtually written off TI this year in the mobile-processor space for lack of any meaningful wins in either smartphones or tablets, yet here we are seeing its OMAP 4 chips powering every single one of Amazon's new tablets. With the first-generation Kindle Fire vastly outperforming the rest of its Android brethren combined, this is a big win for TI if the next year plays out even remotely like the last one.

Your turn, Amazon
Almost as if addressing the rumormongers, Amazon even took an extra step and specifically showed how much better the OMAP chips are relative to the Tegra 3, claiming 50% better performance in floating point operations per second, or FLOPS.

Source: The Verge.

Source: The Verge.

That's like saying, "We knew what you guys were thinking, but no! This is way better. Sorry, NVIDIA." That slide is eerily reminiscent of one that Apple showed during its third-generation iPad unveiling, when marketing chief Phil Schiller vaguely said Apple's new A5X outperforms the Tegra 3 by fourfold.

Amazon's claim has a little more data to back it up, comparing 12 billion FLOPS with 8 billion, but both Amazon and Apple are clearly going the extra mile to bash NVIDIA, while Google selected the Tegra 3 for its Nexus 7.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

That's a bold claim, considering that the A5X has only four graphics cores compared with the Tegra 3's 12, plus the sheer fact that graphics is NVIDIA's specialty. Don't forget that Apple is also using NVIDIA's new Kepler GPUs in its latest MacBook Pro with Retina Display, where it boasts "60 percent faster graphics performance than any notebook we've ever made."

Talk about sending mixed signals. Somewhere, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang is sitting on a beach as the sun sets, picking petals off a rose and muttering to himself, "Apple loves me, Apple loves me not, Apple loves me ..."

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Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Amazon.com. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Amazon.com, Apple, Google, and NVIDIA, writing puts on NVIDIA, and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (7) | Recommend This Article (5)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2012, at 6:39 PM, jwtrotter wrote:

    Let's see, here's a reference to an article that gives a much better informed closer look at Schiller's claims about A5x: http://www.redmondpie.com/a5-vs.-a5x-vs.-tegra-3-thoroughly-... . .

    And that was back in March before Google announced the Nexus 7. Also, the Tegra 3 being used at this date is an earlier version whereas the competition is showing the latest best version. Also, don't be surprised if some follow-up articles show the comparisons with OMAP 4 will easily be eclipsed by the 28nm units coming up later this year for Tegra 3, early next. In any case, this writer isn't being objective at all or even attempting to research the 'facts' used in presentations going back more than 6 months now.

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2012, at 8:35 PM, jwtrotter wrote:

    It's so easy to make this write look like a 'fool'. Here's a quote from NBC News: "Amazon seems to have gotten the body right. What about the guts, though? Those might be a mixed bag. Perhaps our expectations were too high or perhaps we'd been spoiled by the Nexus 7 and iPad, but the Kindle Fire HD seemed downright sluggish at times, lagging at odd moments." And a quote from Gizmodo: "And after using Jelly Bean on the Nexus 7, it's just impossible to go back to Ice Cream Sandwich without it feeling horribly slow and laggy."

    Bother to read other articles before writing Evan? Amazon's Kindle may prove to be a disappointment compared to Google's Nexus 7, and which one uses Tegra 3 again?

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2012, at 11:34 PM, TMFNewCow wrote:

    Wow, jwtrotter. I didn't even personally say anything negative about NVIDIA or its Tegra 3, rather just pointed out Amazon's and Apple's bashing.

    Way to misinterpret though. Better luck next time.

    -- Evan

  • Report this Comment On September 10, 2012, at 2:13 AM, jhf678 wrote:

    Anyway Sapless love him or not, Macbook only contribute 2% of Sapless earning. You got to get in iphone or ipad.

  • Report this Comment On September 10, 2012, at 11:41 AM, jwtrotter wrote:

    Evan,It took me about 10 minutes to find the articles & quotes that give a more complete picture of the bashing you describe which just further supports my point that you are both a cheerleader posing as a writer and poor writer at that. How much do you get paid for posting these articles on Fool? I could use some extra cash, couldn't be an easier way to make some extra money if this is all you have to do but cut and paste from a couple of companies to show their distorted presentations. Please, even your response to me is as shrill as your article(s). I hope people bother to read the comments so they will have done a little more research . . Jim

  • Report this Comment On September 10, 2012, at 4:06 PM, investorak wrote:

    One thing is clear that there are lot of retail investors in Nvidia who get angry anytime anyone says that Tegra is 'not' the best thing in the world. If you dont like Kindle fire's performance just don't buy it. There is no need to get angry! Another thing is that very very few of these tech blog writers and the people in the comments section have any clue what they are talking about. Surely if Amazon is investing millions of dollars in a product, they know what they are doing and they have solid reason why they chose Omap over Tegra. Its your problem if you don't understand it. They have 'real engineers' with decades of design experience who work in trenches and who have evaluated every aspect of both the chips and then came to the conclusion.

    So tegra fanboys need to chill. The market has clearly spoken that it doesn't care about their whining. The customers at large have already given their verdict too - loud and clear. The #1 selling tablet is Ipad and #2 is kindle fire and none of them have tegra.

  • Report this Comment On September 10, 2012, at 6:38 PM, jwtrotter wrote:

    Wow investorak, you are so smart! Did you even bother reading the response so far regarding the actual use of the new Kindle? And I think your numbers about the #1 & 2 are suspect even now regarding the Kindle versus the Nexus 7. I am NOT a tegra fanboy btw, though I use Nvidia products at my workplace and think the engineers at Nvidia are just as competent and actually better than most, including TI, with regards to the software and drivers, which are part of the whole package in the tablet and smartphone markets. I think my comments here for this writer reflect a lack of integrity by most writers on Fool, especially this one. The articles I pointed out actually are not by tegra pumpers or fans btw and do present a fair picture of the tegra products and the competition. Try reading the references . .

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