NVIDIA decided to kick CES off a little early with some rather large announcements. One of the worst kept secrets in the industry was revealed, Tegra 4, while something kept entirely in the dark was shown off for the first time ever, Project Shield. Tegra 4 takes NVIDIA's mobile processor to a whole new level, with a quad-core Cortex-A15 processor plus a power-saving core, 72 GPU cores, and a built-in 4G LTE modem. That quad-core Cortex-A15 is the first one of its kind, while the power-saving core ensures the battery won't be drained when the device is in standy. The Tegra 4 is the fastest mobile processor available with web pages loading in an instant, but there is more to it than just pure speed. It allows for "one shot" HDR photography that can be applied while lining up the shot thanks to its computational photography architecture.
The real star of NVIDIA's show, however, was its new Android-powered gaming handheld: Project Shield. Project Shield has a Tegra 4 chip at its heart, with everything fitted into the controller. A 5" touchscreen at 1280x720 is attached to Shield, while the controller part has four face buttons, two bumper buttons, two triggers, a directional pad, and two analog sticks. There's also a mini HDMI port, full-size USB, microSD, and a headphone jack on the rear. At the center is an NVIDIA button surrounded by Start, Back, Volume, and Home buttons. The top corners contain a custom, bass-reflex, port tuned audio system to really get you into the action.
Project Shield functions just like any other Android device thanks to the touchsreen, so you can browse the web, chat with your friends, download apps from Google Play, watch movies, and more. Press the NVIDIA button, though, and you're in gaming mode, with access to Android games, TegraZone games, and even PC games.
Project Shield can access your GeForce GTX-powered computer to play any installed games, even ones through Steam. The 802.11n 2x2 MIMO means near-instantenous streaming of all your games directly to Project Shield. Its HDMI port means you can hook it up to your TV and play games on the big screen. There were some slight technical difficulties during NVIDIA's press conference, but eventually Project Shield was playing games on a 4K TV.
NVIDIA and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang did not reveal when Tegra 4 or Project Shield would be available to consumers, but both products are extremely impressive. Hopefully Project Shield has an equally impressive price to go with its ability, but regardless of that, NVIDIA has fully thrown its hat in the gaming console business. The press conference can be viewed here for the next seven days once its uploaded.