Nvidia Tegra 4 chip arrives with ARM A15 quad-core processors

News 7 Jan, 2013

Firm claims chip can provide up to 14 hours of HD playback on smartphones and uses 45 per cent less power than the Tegra 3.

Nvidia has taken the wraps off its next-generation mobile processor, which will be known as the Tegra 4.

The chipmaker not only claims its quad-core processor is the world’s fastest mobile CPU, but is capable of providing up to 14 hours of video playback on a smartphone.

The Tegra 4 (codenamed Wayne) combines 72 custom-built Nvidia GPU cores and four of ARM’s latest Cortex A15 CPU cores. The result, Nvidia claims, is over twice the performance when it comes to tasks such as web browsing.

Nvidia claims up to 14 hours of HD video playback on smartphones.

There is also a fifth “battery saver core”, which is designed for low-power tasks such active standby, music, and video playback.

Nvidia has worked hard to cut down power consumption, which was one of the main problems with its predecessor. Nvidia suggests the Tegra 4 will consume 45 per cent less power than the popular Tegra 3.

The firm also claims to have made a key advancement in the area of mobile photography via Computational photography architecture. The chip maker says it combines the processing power of the CPU, GPU, and image sensor to enable users to take high-dynamic range (HDR) photos and video instantly.

Other core features include optional support for 4K ultra-high-definition video.

The Tegra 4 will also be able to offer LTE connectivity. However, Nvidia has not managed to integrate this directly onto the Tegra 4 and a companion chip will be required to make use of high-speed connectivity.

With almost all high-end tablets and smartphones set to include support for LTE in 2013, the lack of on-board integration could hurt uptake of the Tegra 4.

Device manufacturers may choose to go with rivals, in particular Qualcomm, which is tipped to have successfully integrate LTE technology onto a single chip with its next-gen processors. These are set to be unveiled in the Spring.

In the IT Pro smartphone processor test, the Nvidia Tegra 3 didn’t fare well against the likes of Intel Atom and Samsung Exynos.

We concluded the poor performance was due to design deficiencies, and the firm aimed to mask this via the quad-core layout and high graphics clock speed (520MHz). However, the part was the oldest on test and we expected performance to significantly improve with the Tegra 4.

No partners have been named yet, and despite the LTE conundrum, we still expect to see the Tegra 4 used in high-profile Android and Windows RT devices this year.

The Tegra 3 was found in high-end devices such as the HTC One X and the breakthrough Android tablet - the Google Nexus 7. The latest chip could feature in the sequel to such devices.