June 26, 2012, 8:50 PM — Google may be using Nvidia's new Kai reference design in its highly anticipated Nexus 7 tablet, a move that would bolster the tablet's reported low starting price of $199 without much of a Google subsidy. The Kai design is intended to keep down materials costs.
The 7-in. tablet is reported to include a high-end quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, but cutting back on other features is expected to reduce the tablet's price. For example, the device will have only one camera, no Bluetooth or 3G radio chip, and no SD or HDMI ports -- features that are standard on some higher-priced tablets. The Nexus 7 will also come in only two versions, one with 8GB of storage and the other with 16GB, much less than some high-end tablets.
Nvidia first announced the Kai reference design at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. It was Nvidia's attempt to show how a 7-in. Android tablet could offer reasonable performance at a low price of about $200.
An Nvidia executive said earlier this month at the Computex trade show that Kai-design tablets would be announced in the second half of the year. However, Google may be readying its own Kai design early, by announcing the Nexus 7 at Google I/O, which starts Wednesday, Computerworld commenters theorized.
Asustek is the reported maker of the Nexus 7.
The Kai reference design relies on the Tegra 3 chip in various ways, Nvidia has said. For example, Kai uses DirectTouch technology to offload processing work needed for the touch interface onto the Tegra CPU, instead of using a separate touch controller.
Kai also uses Nvidia's PRISM (Pixel rendering intensity and saturation management) technology to adjust pixel colors on a display to reduce the level of brightness required, allowing manufacturers to use cheaper displays, Nvidia has said. Displays are the most expensive part of a tablet, and the Nexus 7 will reportedly have a display with 1280 x 800 resolution.