Nvidia Project Shield Prototype Came Together Three Weeks Before CES

By Wesley Fenlon

Nvidia took Shield from concept to prototype in a single year and was still in rough shape three weeks before CES.

Nvidia held a lengthy, early press conference at CES the night before Sony, Qualcomm and all the rest had a chance to talk up their new products. Nvidia revealed the worst-kept secret of the mobile business, the Tegra 4 processor, but the company also had a very, very well-kept secret for the event: Project Shield. The controller-with-a-screen-attached portable game console came as a total surprise, but what's more surprising is how the product really came together just days before CES.

Nvidia's blog has a long post up about the history of Project Shield, which reveals that as late as December 2012 engineers were being flown to Silicon Valley from Texas and China to put in long hours on the project. On December 18, less than three weeks before CES, two feature-complete prototypes were taken to Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang. It worked, but it was rough--hardly ready for a surprise unveiling at the biggest tech show of the year.

The blog also reveals that Huang had been considering a standalone gaming device for years, but it wasn't until the beginning of 2012 that he and other Nvidia higher-ups decided to engineer a great game controller designed to attach to an Android phone. From there, the controller evolved into a device running on the Tegra 4 mobile processor.

The rest of the post heaps glowing praise on Nvidia's software and hardware engineers, and it sounds like a huge team put in round-the-clock crunch hours for months to prepare Shield for its CES debut. Their work certainly paid off in buzz, but it's hard to say if gamers will embrace a mobile system that will likely cost as much as a much more powerful GeForce card.