First Nvidia Tegra 4i-Based Smartphones Due in Calendar 2014 – Chief Executive

Modem Certification of Tegra 4i Will Be Completed Late in the Year

by Anton Shilov
08/14/2013 | 11:02 PM

While Nvidia Corp. has been trying to pull in the release of Tegra 4i-based smartphones, it looks like the handsets will only become available sometimes in calendar 2014. The chief executive of Nvidia said last week that voice modem certification for Tegra 4i will only be completed towards the end of the year, which means that the phones will simply not reach the market in calendar 2013.


“Our modem qualification comes in two different parts, they are related, but not the same. First is the data service, which is important for all of our tablet products [e.g., Tegra 4]. So, data modem certification is well ahead of the voice, and we are in the process of doing that as we speak. Then there is the [voice modem technology] that goes with Tegra 4i. That happens when the certification completes near the end of the year. So, we are not expecting…,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive officer of Nvidia, during a conference call with investors and financial analysts.

Without certification of the baseband technologies inside a chip, it is impossible to sell a smartphone on its base. As a result, Nvidia needs to complete all certification procedures first and only then it will be able to sell the chips to interested parties. Nvidia demonstrated data transfer capabilities of Tegra 4i in 4G/LTE cat 4 networks back in May and is expected to receive data-related certifications for the i500 modem (used inside 4i and alongside the Tegra 4) shortly. However, the company needs voice-related certificates to sell Tegra 4i.

According to chief executive officer of Nvidia, voice certifications for the highly-integrated Tegra 4i will be received only be the end of Nvidia’s fiscal 2013, which means January of calendar 2014. Therefore, it will be possible to expect the first Tegra 4i-based smartphones sometimes in February – March timeframe.

A reference design of Nvidia Tegra 4i-based smartphone

A good news is that Nvidia is working with AT&T over qualification procedures. Given that AT&T is extremely rigorous when it comes to certifications, meeting their criteria will automatically mean that Tegra 4i will pass the tests with other operators.

“The reason why we do AT&T is because it is the most rigorous and if we get through AT&T, you are pretty much set on just about vastly the western world's open markets. So that is the reason why we focus on AT&T first,” said Mr. Huang.

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. The SoC is aimed at mainstream smartphones.