NVIDIA's much talked about Tegra 4 mobile processor is finally here, and could bring the company a score of design wins with high-end smartphones and tablets, throughout 2013 and beyond. Keeping in mind the exponential gains in display resolutions, the new chip is designed to handle devices with over 2560 x 1600 pixels resolutions, and has the brawns to accelerate 4K "ultra-HD" video playback.
Tegra 4 uses essentially the same component hierarchy as its predecessor, but upgrades each of those components. To begin with, it uses four ARM Cortex-A15 cores, with a fifth power-saver core that keeps the device running at lower battery-saving power states while gating power to the four main cores. The CPU component, according to NVIDIA, is designed to offer 2.6 times faster web-browsing (rendering).
The next major component of the Tegra 4 is its upgraded GeForce ULV graphics processor, which packs 72 CUDA cores, and is capable of display resolutions well beyond 1080p. The GPU is said to feature "six-times" the compute power of its predecessor. NVIDIA introduced the "Computational Photography Architecture," a feature-set for which applications need to be specially coded for, which combines the computational power of the CPU, GPU, and the camera's image processor to deliver higher quality HDR photos. Tegra 4 optionally ships in combination with the company's Icera i500 baseband chip, which is capable of 1.2 trillion IOPS. Its obvious impact on the feature-set is addition of 4G LTE.
Built on the 28 nanometer silicon fabrication process, Tegra 4 is claimed by its makers to consume 45 percent less power than its predecessor in common usage scenarios. The Prism 2 display technology wires the chip to the device's display backlighting, dynamically adjusting brightness of individual backlight LEDs to both conserve power, and produce better images.
The first notable device to feature Tegra 4 is the company's own "Project Shield" portable game console, which offers up to 38 hours of HD gaming on a full-charge. Other devices, such as tablets, sub-notebooks, and smartphones based on the chip should begin rolling out later this year.