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If you’ve considered an Android tablet The 3 Best Android Tablets Available Today That A Buyer Should Check Out The 3 Best Android Tablets Available Today That A Buyer Should Check Out While the iPad was able to jump on the tablet market before anyone else, Android tablets from competitors are starting to flow like water. There’s now a wide variety of options available and many of... Read More recently, there’s a good chance that it was powered by a Tegra 2 processor. Most of the tablets on the market using (relatively) stock versions of Honeycomb are powered by it, with only some of the smaller tablets, like the Kindle Fire 4 Reasons Amazon’s Kindle Tablet Could Kick Butt 4 Reasons Amazon’s Kindle Tablet Could Kick Butt Rumor has it that Amazon is preparing a Kindle tablet that should launch by the end of the year. This is exciting new for the tablet market, as it’s been dominated by the Apple iPad... Read More , going elsewhere.

Nvidia is not content to sit on its hands with Tegra, however. They’ve now developed a new system-on-a-chip (SoC), called Tegra 3, which will debut in Android tablets this holiday season. It will most likely become the dominant Android tablet processor – so what’s new?

Going Quad…ish

Mobile SoC processors seem to be following the path laid out by their more powerful x86 brethren in the last decade. Instead of trying to aim for higher and higher clock speeds, parallelization – running multiple software threads simultaneously on multiple processors cores – is the name of the game.

As such, Nvidia designed Tegra 3 from the ground up as a quad-core architecture, but even this is not the full story, because there are actually five functional cores available in Tegra 3.

Four of the cores are identical, but the fifth – which Nvidia is calling the companion core – is different. This is a single core that is limited to 500 MHz and built using low-power transistors. The idea behind the companion core is that, when a Tegra 3 powered device is doing something that is not demanding (say, playing a podcast 10 Educational History Podcasts To Subscribe & Listen To 10 Educational History Podcasts To Subscribe & Listen To A lot of us left history back in the classrooms. For some it made for ponderous reading. Thanks to the many history podcasts available for free on the web, listening to it is both entertaining... Read More ), all four of the standard cores can go completely offline. However, the companion core can’t operate along with the standard cores, so this remains a quad-core processor.


All The Numbers Go Up

Besides an increase in the number of cores (Tegra 2 was dual-core), there’s also an increase in the maximum clock speed and the number of graphics cores.

The maximum clock speed is now 1.4 GHz for a single core, or 1.3 GHz for all cores. But don’t assume that this means any Tegra 3 device you buy will function that way. Tegra 2 has a maximum of 1.2 GHz, but the majority of devices using it ship at 1 GHz.

SoC designs are about more than just CPU performance, however. They also include the graphics component, and here more improvements have been made. While the previous version offered 8 graphics cores, the new version offers 12. Nvidia also claims to have smoothed execution of code, creating higher per-clock performance for these cores.

As a result, Tegra 3 offers about twice the graphics performance of its predecessor. Nvidia is going so far as to call it a “true mobile console” that can be hooked up to a HDTV via HDMI and provide graphics on par with the current generation of console hardware.

Devices Incoming

Tablets are the primary target of Tegra 3, and devices with them will be hitting store shelves over the holidays. So far ASUS and Lenovo have confirmed they are finalizing their new tablets with plans to launch in late November or early December, and Acer appears to have one in the works, as well.

CES 2012, which occurs in January of next year, will no doubt be when the main thrust of new tablet announcements occurs. It’s a good bet that anyone currently producing an Android tablet with Tegra 2 will also end up making a tablet with Tegra 3.

Don’t think that Tegra 2 is just going to disappear overnight, however. Early indications are that the first new products using Tegra 3 will be priced at a premium (about $600) and that Tegra 2 tablets will, for a time, be sold at a lower price point.


Nvidia’s latest mobile architecture will be a great leap forward in performance, so if you’re currently in the market for a tablet, you may want to wait until these products becomes available – if for no other reason than to read the reviews, and make sure you aren’t missing out.

If you have any question about the architecture, or want to share any rumors you’ve heard about upcoming tablets, please post in the comments.

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  1. Abdo
    May 10, 2012 at 12:40 am

    Lol im retarded? Who wants a bieggr tv? really? thats your comeback? TV size has nothing to to with my question, its rather moronic bringing up why people want bieggr television than asking for one decent reason why someone would wanna buy this generic poorly crafter rip off of a tablet pc. Which i bet you bought, anyways im still waiting for one thing that this tablet does that a regular phone running its software cant do .and if you cant come up with one reason than stfu.

  2. Omnia
    May 8, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    This is my first tablet, so I will not coamrpe it to the iPad. I would first like to say that this Tablet is solid looking like a typical Lenovo Thinkpad. It is more than apparent that this tablet is more substance than style, and this is something that I prefer. It is not the sexiest or trendiest looking tablet, but it has the classic Lenovo Thinkpad look that businesses (and even many home users) may enjoy. The backing of it is this non-shiny soft substance that is almost like a casing. The glass of the screen is Guerrilla glass that is durable, smooth and shiny. It has a really nice feel for touch screen, but the shiny surface may be a little annoying if you work outside. Also, fingerprints do show on the screen especially when it is off, but that is common for most touch screens. When the screen is on, there is no issue. Speaking of the screen, it has a nice bright LCD screen with outstanding viewing angles. No complaints in that department. The tablet also has plenty of slots. It has a full sized USB slot, a mini HDMI out, SD card slot, etc. Because of this, it is slightly thinker than other tablets. It is not, however, cumbersome at all. Now I will first comment on common features: Android Honeycomb 3.1 This is my first Android device. I want to say that I absolutely love the OS. I did have to learn how to use the OS, but once I learned how to use it, I really started to enjoy its versitility. What I love about Android is my ability to customize my pages with widgets of my choosing. I can, for example, place a calendar in one of my homepages with reminders of future appointments, events, etc. For a tablet specifically, I find this feature important. I have an iPhone, and iOS is really nice for a phone, but I prefer the flexibility of Android for a tablet. Features unique to the Thinkpad: Hard Buttons This is one of my favorite features of this tablet. I love being able to return to my main screen just by pushing a button. It also has a back button, web button, and a button that disables or enables screen rotation. Granted, these buttons are not necessary to be able to work android, but they are a nicely added convenience. Digitizer Stylus Yes, this pad is not the only tablet to have a stylus. However what makes this feature unique is its digitizer stylus, which is supposed to be more accurate than other stylus. Note that this pen is not included with the unit unless you purchase a package from stores like TigerDirect. I haven't received the pen yet, so I will append this review when I receive it. Keyboard Folio I am aware that this isn't the only tablet that offers a keyboard folio (Transformer). What makes this keyboard unique and cool is the design, which mimics the Lenovo keyboard. This item is apparently not out for order yet, so when I finally purchase it I will also append this section of my review. Lenovo software Lenovo preloads the tablet with a bunch of apps. One example is a launcher that is placed in the middle of your home screen. It is custimizable so you can put whatever you do often such as check email, browse the web, or watch movies. The tablet also included productivity software such as PrinterShare and Documents-to-go so you can view your documents, presentations or spreadsheets. Additionally for your entertainment needs, the tablet includes NetFlix, Amazon MP3, and other goodies. Lenovo app store Lenovo provides its own app store with apps that are compatible with the tablet. I really like the store's interface. I also like the fact the Lenovo provides a safe store to be able to purchase my apps. You can still use the regular Android app store if necessary. All in all, even without the Keyboard and Pen, I still recommend this tablet as a high quality, solidly built tablet that would satisfy the productivity needs for people.

  3. Vivitech Ltd
    January 26, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Having the fifth core is useful for battery life, it will be exciting to see the lineup of Android Tablets in 2012. The faster the processor, the more freedom developers like us have.

    • Ngaita
      May 8, 2012 at 11:22 am

      this is where you are mistaking, those who altualcy have a shred of brain do not argue on the internet about such a nonsence. It is a matter of personal preferences, and both ipad 2 and galaxy tab have their advantages. Saying that apple product users are stupid makes about the same sence as saying that everyone who eats bananas is stupid .

    • Suiseiseki
      May 10, 2012 at 3:45 am

      We have a very sincere goal here at Buyandroid-tablet, aclaltuy. It's not just to make a quick buck. Yes, certainly we run a business and don't mind making money. Yet we want to provide value to our readership, as well. Here is our

  4. Osher
    November 25, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    is tegra 3 going to be intergrated also as a mobile-phone processor?

    • M.S. Smith
      November 26, 2011 at 8:29 am

      I'm not aware of Tegra 3 being announced for mobile phones, yet. We will probably see it adapted for a mobile phone release at some point, but it may be awhile (as in, six months or so).

      We'll know more after CES...that is when a lot of new mobile phones will be announced.

    • Lola
      May 7, 2012 at 9:08 am

      day has arrived! You can now head over to Verizon's wtseibe to purchase the Motorola XOOM, or just head into a store as soon as you can get yourself out of bed. I'm sure there will be

  5. Anwar Aemran
    November 25, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Tegra 3 sounds very enticing to buy, but yeah, for something that costs $600, I will wait for next year's new technology. By then, tablets with Tegra 3 and their price should go down.