Nvidia Corp. on Tuesday introduced its first system-on-chip for mobile devices with integrated baseband capabilities and 4G/LTE modem previously code-named Grey. The highly-integrated Tegra 4i processor features four ARM Cortex-A9 cores with reduced power consumption as well as advanced Chimera computational photography architecture developed by Nvidia. So far no smartphone vendors have revealed plans to use the Tegra 4i.
“Nvidia is delivering for the first time a single, integrated processor that powers all the major functions of a smartphone. Tegra 4i phones will provide amazing computing power, world-class phone capabilities, and exceptionally long battery life,” said Phil Carmack, senior vice president of the mobile business at Nvidia.
Nvidia Tegra 4i features four new high-performance ARM Cortex-A9/r4 cores running at 2.30GHz as well as one low-power ARM Cortex-A9 core that operates when performance is not required. The processor also integrates custom ultra low-power GeForce core with 60 stream processors, LPDDR3 memory controller, software Icera i500 LTE baseband modem (GSM, HSPA+, TD-HSPA, 4G/LTE), advanced image processor as well as Chimera HDR photography processor, which is expected to become one of the main selling-points for Tegra 4i-based handsets.
“ARM and Nvidia worked closely to further optimize the Cortex-A9 processor to drive performance and efficiency in areas such as streaming and responsiveness. This is an example of the collaboration and innovation that enables ARM technology-based solutions to be market drivers through multiple generations of SoC solutions,” said Tom Cronk, executive vice president and general manager, processor division at ARM.
Nvidia Chimera architecture offers a number of features never before available on mobile devices, including always-on high-dynamic range (HDR) photos and videos, HDR panoramic and persistent tap-to-track capabilities. Chimera architecture can conduct nearly 100 billion mathematical operations per second to perform image processing, using computational techniques used in X-ray CT scanners, deep space telescopes and spy satellites.
Device makers can use the architecture to create differentiated imaging solutions to ship with their smartphones and tablets. The architecture provides an application programming interface (API) that developers can use to create enhanced imaging apps for the growing Android mobile customer base. Two important players in the camera imaging sensor market, Sony and Aptina have already added support for the Chimera computational photography.
Nvidia also introduced its reference smartphone platform code-named “Phoenix” for the Tegra 4i processor to demonstrate its unique mobile technologies. Phoenix is a blueprint that phone makers can reference in designing and building future Tegra 4i smartphones to help get them to market quicker.
''Nvidia’s Tegra 4i appears to outperform the leading integrated LTE chip significantly, and also benefits from an integrated ‘soft-modem’ that can be re-programmed over-the-air to support new frequencies and air interfaces – something other modem vendors can only dream of,” said Stuart Robinson, director of handset component technologies program at Strategy Analytics.
The Tegra 4i mobile processor will be demonstrated in the Nvidia booth at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, Spain, on February 25-28, 2013.