Quick: what's the system-on-a -chip that's on the top of everyone's mind right now? If you answered the Nvidia Tegra 3, Qualcomm Vice President Rob Chandhok has got a bone to pick with you. Speaking at a pre-CES press conference, the VP of Software Strategy called Nvidia's processor a "single use product", comparing it poorly to Qualcomm's own Snapdragon line of processors. Chandhok went on to say that Snapdragon will be featured in hundreds of devices.
The executive's point isn't necessarily wrong - Tegra has been limited to high-end devices so far, a trend that continues with the quad-core Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime. Forthcoming handsets from HTC are also top-of-the-line contenders. Qualcomm is no stranger to the high end, but they also provide components for smaller and cheaper devices that help fill out product lines for just about every device maker. As awesome as the Tegra 3 is, you won't be seeing it in a $50 Android phone any time soon.
Tegra 3 isn't concerning us. There are lots of smart people in the world but what we’re going to focus on is product roadmaps that help our manufacturing partners not just single use products … I could go away and make something brilliant with Tegra 3, but you’re going to see hundreds of [Snapdragon] S4 devices in the marketplace.
Of course, Nvidia's corporate image is built around performance. When's the last time you saw an Nvidia ad for an efficient, low-cost graphics card? They make a range of products, but their reputation lies in the high end, and that's what Nvidia is focusing on in the mobile space - and doing pretty well. Qualcomm isn't in any sort of danger in the safer low end of the market, but the Snapdragon line is definitely looking a little long in the tooth when it comes to raw power. Qualcomm isn't the only one preparing answers to the Tegra 3: Samsung's Exonys line is expected to expand early next year with many powerful new options.