Keeping with tradition, Nvidia has announced its newest mobile System-on-a-Chip (SoC) at CES. The Tegra 4 is going to be the company’s offering for the mobile world for 2013. The first details about it got leaked last month.
The Tegra 4 comes with 4 CPU cores using the ARM Cortex-A15 design, effectively the ‘latest and greatest’ there is. So far, the only chip to fully utilize this design is the Samsung-made one found in the Google Nexus 10 tablet – but that’s ‘just’ dual-core. It makes sense then that when Nvidia put a Nexus 10 to the test comparing website loading speed with a Tegra 4-powered tablet, the latter won. There’s also a fifth battery saving core in there, conserving Nvidia’s 4-PLUS-1 design first seen in the Tegra 3.
The Tegra 4 has 72 GPU ‘cores’, effectively six times more than its predecessor. That should result in a six-fold increase in graphics performance compared to the Tegra 3. Optional will be an i500 modem processor that will support LTE. So this still isn’t LTE on the SoC, but it will be achieved via an optional add-in component. Not bad, but not ideal either. Later this year, Qualcomm is set to debut its MSM8974 Snapdragon S4 SoC with built-in LTE which could have lower power consumption than the Tegra 4 thanks to it not needing an additional piece of kit for the 4G data connectivity.
That said, Nvidia is boasting that the Tegra 4 will feature up to 45% less power consumption than the Tegra 3. Of course, that’s “up to”. But because the new SoC is built using a 28 nm process (and not the 40 nm one used for the Tegra 3), better battery life from the newer, more powerful chipset could be a reality. How much lower though remains to be seen in day-to-day use.
A couple of neat things included with the Tegra 4 that are worth mentioning: it comes with some tech that allows for reducing backlight power while still delivering top notch quality, and its Computational Photography Architecture automatically delivers HDR photos and video by “fusing together the processing power of the GPU, CPU, and the camera’s image-signal processor”. This should enable faster and more seamless HDR shots and videos.
The Tegra 4 will have to compete for the high-end of the smartphone and tablet market with the aforementioned Qualcomm chipset coming out later this year, but also with that company’s already shipping APQ8064 quad-core Snapdragon S4 solution (found in the Google Nexus 4, for example), as well as Samsung’s rumored upcoming quad-core Exynos 5 SoC (also based on ARM Cortex-A15) that will probably make its debut inside the Galaxy S IV.
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