MWC 2013: Nvidia unveils Tegra 4i with integrated LTE modem

Nvidia has announced a new processor for mobiles at the Mobile World Congress event. The processor is a variation of the Tegra 4, dubbed the Tegra 4i. It integrates the Tegra 4 with Nvidia's new i500 LTE modem and cuts the size of the chip down to half of that of other chips.

The Tegra 4i—codenamed Grey—is designed to run four cores at a speed of up to 2.3GHz and the company is targeting it towards mainstream smartphones, while the super-high end categories will be handled by the Tegra 4. The 4i is based on ARM's Cortex A9 processor, which lets it have a smaller chip size and power requirement. It also sports Nvidia's Computational Photography Architecture, dubbed Chimera.

One of the biggest things to come out of the Tegra 4i is the possibility of the upper-end of mid-ranged phones sporting a powerful SoC with LTE built in to it. While we don’t have much of an option to use LTE in India, it may become more useful as time goes on. With enough passage of time, one can even consider low-end mobiles using the Tegra 4i.

Miniaturisation taken to its current logical extreme

Miniaturisation taken to its current logical extreme


Back in February, it was revealed that Nvidia has been having a hard time in getting companies to adopt the Tegra 4. Toshiba has so far been the first smartphone and tablet maker that has adopted the processor, which implies that Nvidia has been struggling to compete with chips made by Qualcomm, MediaTek and IC design houses.

Asus and Acer, two of the bigger tablet makers in the world, have not yet decided to place orders for Nvidia’s chip. This may be because their focus has shifted from high-end 10-inch tablets to entry-level 7-inch ones. For Asus’ smartphones, it is likely that the company will continue its relationship with Qualcomm and leave Nvidia’s Tegra 4 as a backup option.

Nvidia is considering on reducing the price of the Tegra 3 so that the company can attract entry-level tablet makers. However, Digitimes sources point out that Tegra 3’s price will be too high even after the cut, compared to chips from MediaTek and China-based IC design houses.

Nvidia had unveiled the Tegra 4 back in January during CES. The new processor boasts a number of improvements, including 72 graphics cores and better imaging capabilities. The CPU is based on ARM's latest Cortex A-15 architecture, which gives it a considerable boost compared to the current ARM Cortex A-9 based Tegra 3 quad-core chipset. The new chip sticks to Tegra 3's 4-plus-1 design. In this design, a fifth smaller core helps regulate the power among the four more powerful cores.

The biggest feature of the Tegra 4 is the 72 graphics core. This is a full six times higher than the Tegra 3. Another feature is the HDR capability of the chipset. The processor quickly takes two photos at different exposure levels and combines them into a single photo that has higher richness in terms of light and colour. While other chips also have this capability, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang claims that the Tegra 4 takes shots at a rate of 0.2 seconds per frame. This is faster than the iPhone 5, which takes HDR shots in 2 seconds. Other camera-based features of the Tegra 4 include the ability to take panorama shots with HDR and the ability to track moving objects. The second one especially is notable, as the company claims that the chip can track these objects without any blurring.

Published Date: Mar 01, 2013 10:46 am | Updated Date: Mar 01, 2013 10:46 am