Amazon and Apple Take Turns Bashing NVIDIA; Google Offers Consolation

Talk about mixed signals from Apple.

Evan Niu
Evan Niu, CFA
Sep 9, 2012 at 12:00AM

The iPhone 5 launch on Wednesday, Sept. 12, is sure to be the most important event for tech investors this year. The Motley Fool will be hosting a live chat where our top tech analysts will answer your questions and break down what the announcement means for Apple and tech investors everywhere. Be sure to swing by at 12:45 p.m. ET next Wednesday for all your coverage of Apple's next big announcement. (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, 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.

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.

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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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