Whispers say Mike Rayfield out at Nvidia

Tegra is still doing well, just ask Nvidia

Nvidia world iconTHE CRACKS ARE starting to show at Nvidia’s Tegra unit, with some more huge contracts hanging on by a thread, and key people being shown the door. Couple that with a roadmap shakeup, and you have the right formula for a mess.

The biggest news is that SemiAccurate has heard Mike Rayfield, General Manager, Mobile Business Unit, aka Tegra, is not at Nvidia any more. Well, technically he is still an employee, but sources at Nvidia say he was asked to take an extended vacation, but not fired. And to clean out his office before he left for drinks on the beach. We hear that he is likely still technically on the payroll, almost assuredly for contractual reasons.

Why was a General Manager shown the door? Two reasons, products and sales. The product side is pretty obvious, Tegra is a buggy mess, and Tegra 2 is WAY behind schedule, buggy, and hugely over the promised power targets. The chip is basically locked out of several key markets, and has been dropped like a hot potato once silicon is in hand for many others. Nvidia simply does not deliver, and their competition does.

These failures are a direct result of the silicon not living up to promises made to win the design. Do that enough, and the promotions will stop at Nvidia. Keep dropping the ball at that point, and eventually the people responsible will find someone to blame, and take swift decisive action.

From what we hear, when Nvidia management merged the chipset and Tegra teams, the chipset people were “horrified” at the roadmap they saw, and called for a complete review. Please note that this is unlikely to affect anything until after the Tegra 3, think long term issues. People in the loop say the results of that review were anything but pretty.

That brings us to reason two, sales flops. As we keep saying, Nvidia gets design wins all over the place by promising specs that they simply can’t deliver. The design wins are just that, designs, with win appeneded until silicon is delivered. Sources at several companies tell SemiAccurate the same story, Nvidia promised specs and could not deliver silicon that matched the promises. Because of this, Tegra was dropped, and plan B was put in to place. If you want more on that process, look at what happened with Samsung and their Tegra device.

The straw that probably broke the camel’s back this time was probably the PSP2. It has a Tegra variant as the main chip, and we hear that the silicon Nvidia delivered is so awful that Sony is looking elsewhere now. Sources conflict as to whether or not this is a loss, or just grumbling by Sony.

In the end, you have the General Manager in charge of Tegra out. The overwhelming majority of the design wins Nvidia PR crows about vanishing in a puff of smoke, and the ones that do come out, the less said the better. To make matters worse, we hear future ‘big design wins’ are also on the chopping block. Time to give up on the dream fellas, all those billions were never realistic to begin with.S|A


UPDATED: 3:55pm August 2, 2010  Comment was requested from Nvidia and they said “I see no purpose in this correspondence.”  -Editor.

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate