|Nvidia has shown off a new handheld gaming system alongside its next-generation Tegra 4 mobile processor. Titled Project Shield, the portable gaming device will play Android-based games as well as PC titles on Steam, by streaming gameplay footage over a Wi-Fi connection from a personal computer that renders the game itself.
Acting as a wireless game receiver, the combined controller and screen will transmit inputs to the computer, which receives and interprets the commands for the currently-running game. Footage is rendered on a computer running an Nvidia Kepler-based GPU as opposed to the device, and is streamed back for viewing on the 5-inch multitouch display, in a manner that resembles a localized version of OnLive. As well as using the controller's own 1280x720-resolution display, it can also use Steam's Big Picture Mode and output video to a TV via HDMI, while audio is provided by a tuned port, bass reflex audio system.
Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO and co-founder of Nvidia said of Project Shield's design: "We imagined a device that would do for games what the iPod and Kindle have done for music and books, letting us play in a cool new way."
Tegra 4 was also unveiled formally at the same time, with details released at CES matching previously leaked information. Using the same 4-Plus-1 configuration as Tegra 3, the new system uses 72 graphics cores as well as the first quad-core application of ARM's Cortex-A15 CPU core, which will provide a 2.6-times faster web browsing experience and application performance increase. Global 4G LTE voice and data support is offered through an optional Nvidia Icera i500 chipset, which is said to be 40-percent the size of conventional modems while also being more efficient and provides four times the processing capability of its predecessor. Support for 4K video and a Computational Photography Architecture, which automatically processes HDR photos and video, were also confirmed.
A release date and expected price for Project Shield has not been mentioned, but the company hopes it will be out by the second quarter.