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Nvidia To Provide 4G LTE Chip For Asus Windows RT Tablet

(This article was originally published Monday.) --Asus Windows RT tablet will use Nvidia's Icera 4G cellular chip along with Nvidia's Tegra application processor --Tablet will be one of the first devices to use Nvidia LTE technology --Asus initially previewed a Windows RT tablet at Computex By Shara Tibken NEW YORK--Nvidia Corp. (NVDA) chips will power a 4G tablet later this year, giving the company a boost in the cellular chip market and posing a threat to wireless processor rival Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM). Asustek Computer Inc. (ASUUY, 2357.TW) plans to release a version of its Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) Windows RT tablet that uses an Nvidia 4G Long Term Evolution chip, said Mark Aevermann, an Nvidia product manager overseeing the chip maker's notebook graphics chip business and its Windows RT push. The tablet will use a standalone chip for cellular connectivity, as well as Nvidia's mobile application processor, Mr. Aevermann said in an interview Monday. He noted the company plans to eventually integrate its Icera cellular chips with its Tegra application processor. Mr. Aevermann said the LTE and WiFi versions of the Asus tablet, currently dubbed the "Tablet 600," will likely be available at the same time Windows is released. It will be one of the first devices, if not the first, to use Nvidia's 4G chips from its Icera acquisition. "Fundamentally, it's up to [Asus], but there's nothing preventing it," he said. The new version of Windows, dubbed Windows RT, will be the first to run on chips based on ARM Holdings PLC (ARMH, ARM.LN) architecture. PC makers and ARM-based chip providers such as Nvidia are counting on the operating system, expected this fall, to help them regain lost ground against Apple Inc. (AAPL). Nvidia has been a leader in providing ARM-based chips for tablets, but it has struggled more in devices that have a cellular connection, such as smartphones. The Santa Clara, Calif., company has had troubles pairing its Tegra mobile chips with third-party modems, something that has limited its reach. Qualcomm, meanwhile, dominates the cellular chip industry, controlling nearly half of the market share last year amid strength in its 3G and 4G chips, according to Strategy Analytics. While it's one of the few providers of 4G LTE chips and is successful in phones, it has been weaker in tablets. Windows RT tablet partner Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) late last month said it had set aside immediate plans to release a Windows RT device when it unveiled its next generation of tablet computers. Qualcomm wasn't immediately available to comment Monday. H-P's decision, though not entirely unexpected, was a setback for ARM and chip makers that license its technology. However, other companies such as Asus and Toshiba Corp. (TOSYY, 6502.TO) have said they'll have devices available at the time Windows is released. Asus initially unveiled its Windows RT tablet--which it called a product preview--in June at the Computex tradeshow in Taiwan, becoming the first company to announce a Windows RT device. At the time, the company said the 10.1-inch tablet would use Nvidia's Tegra 3 quad-core processor, but it didn't provide details about cellular connectivity or the use of an Nvidia cellular chip. Asus wasn't immediately available to comment Monday. Nvidia noted in a blog post during Computex that Tegra-powered Windows RT devices will be thin and light, silent with no fan and offer days of battery life. Mr. Aevermann on Monday said Windows RT tablets will have a minimum of 10 hours battery life. Along with the Asus device, Tegra is also powering Microsoft's own branded Windows RT tablet, dubbed the Surface. Nvidia is best known for chips called graphics processing units, or GPUs, that generate visual effects in videogames played on personal computers and consoles. Faced with worries about slowing computer sales and heightened competition in graphics, it has placed a major bet that it can move beyond PCs and into smartphones and tablets with Tegra. To help its mobile push and compete with chip makers such as Qualcomm and Intel Corp. (INTC), Nvidia a year ago purchased wireless technology start-up Icera. The Icera business has started to gain some traction with customers of late, with the first phones using Icera wireless processors launching earlier this year. Nvidia has said there would be LTE phone chips from Icera early next year and LTE tablets later this year. The Icera LTE chip has already been certified by AT&T Inc. (T) for data use and is in the process of being certified with "a bunch" of European carriers, Mr. Aevermann said Monday. Nvidia shares, down 10% over the past three months, closed up 4 cents, or 0.32%, at $12.60. Write to Shara Tibken at shara.tibken@dowjones.com

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