NVIDIA has been one of the most important chip-makers of this young mobile era. Its Tegra 2 SoC powered the first dual core smartphones and tablets, and Tegra 3 played the same pioneering role for quad core. At CES 2013, NVIDIA unleashed its next-generation mobile chip, the Tegra 4.
Faster CPU, upgraded GPU
Previously codenamed "Wayne," Tegra 4 improves on its predecessor's quad core processor, and sports 72 custom GeForce GPU cores. That's 6x the graphical horsepower of Tegra 3. NVIDIA says that the chip will open the door for more stunning gaming visuals, in addition to powering higher resolution displays.
The CPU is the first quad-core application of ARM's (most advanced) Cortex-A15 architecture. The processor can be clocked as high as 1.9GHz.
Tegra 4 also sports the second-generation version of the Tegra 3's fifth "companion core." Also a Cortex-A15, the fifth core is invisible to the OS, with the sole purpose of saving power.
Tegra 4 is the first NVIDIA chip to bring its own LTE modem to the party. The optional Icera i500 chipset supports category 3 (100Mbps) LTE, with category 4 (150Mbps) support coming sometime down the road.
Apart from NVIDIA's own "Project Shield" portable gaming console, we're still waiting to hear about the first Tegra 4 devices. The Tegra 3 powered – among others – the Nexus 7, Microsoft Surface RT, and Asus Transformer Prime.
We'll likely hear about upcoming Tegra 4 smartphones and tablets at next month's Mobile World Congress.