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Nov 212011

A 10.1-inch touchscreen plus a quad-core mobile processor is a surefire way to suck any Android tablet’s battery, but is that necessarily the case with NVIDIA Tegra 3 (Kal-El) running on the upcoming ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime?  Not necessarily so, says NVIDIA chief Jen-Hsun Huang.

Speaking at the UBS Global Technology and Services Conference last week, Huang assures potential ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime users that Tegra 3’s power-saving technology could make the device enjoy longer battery life, despite the seemingly power-gobbling hardware specs that the Android tablet comes with.

The trick lies in reducing backlight intensity of the display while fooling the human eye that it is viewing exactly the same image with full backlighting.  The human eye would not be able to tell the difference, since it sees the same color temperature.  The backlight intensity is reduced to about half, and the reduction is what accounts for the savings in power consumption.

“It’s the ability to per pixel, per frame, per scene to modulate the backlight so quickly that we over a long period of time, reduce the amount of backlight intensity and backlight energy by nearly half. We save as much power in the backlight without changing the visual fidelity at all to save, essentially, the entire power used by our chip,” explained Huang.

Called DIDIM, the power-saving feature of Tegra 3, which will be first featured in the upcoming ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime, can lengthen the Android tablet’s battery life by about 40%.  DIDIM can make the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime play up to 14 hours of continuous video.  In contrast, the NVIDIA Tegra 2, which the earlier ASUS Eee Pad Transformer uses, can play continuous video up to about 10 hours.

Huang also said that the new Tegra 3 processor consumes about 1 to 2 watts while in full active mode.  By comparison, other typical displays consume more–about 3 to 6 watts, depending on the display’s brightness.

Another power-saving trick that NVIDIA has packed into the Tegra 3 is the fifth companion CPU core.  Tegra 3 actually has four main CPU cores, and a fifth one that runs at a slower frequency than the main cores.

For CPU-intensive applications such as gaming, Web browsing, and other multitasking applications, the four main cores do the heavy lifting.  For everything else (i.e., non-CPU-intensive) such as music playback or background syncing, the slower companion core does the job, and as a consequence, less battery power is consumed.

The power-saving abilities of NVIDIA Tegra 3 and the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime is most surely one of the compelling reasons that creates strong interest in the upcoming quad-core Android tablet.  There are 6 other top reasons that make the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime worth having when it comes out this year.  Make sure you check those out, too.

Images and videos courtesy of NVIDIA

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