NVIDIA Announces LTE-Integrated Tegra 4i SoC

The web may be abuzz with news and rumors of NVIDIA's GeForce Titan high-end graphics card for gaming PCs, but on its sidelines, the company also launched a product that could be of far more prominence to it, particularly as it craves design wins in the smartphone space. The new Tegra 4i from NVIDIA, codenamed "Grey," is a variant of the Tegra 4 SoC launched last month, at the 2013 International CES. It integrates a 4G LTE soft-modem logic into the main chip. The SoC package itself is highly compacted, to conserve precious PCB real-estate inside smartphones.

While Tegra 4 goes just fine with tablets and smartphones, the new Tegra 4i is specifically designed for sleek smartphones. Both chips are sold in some way or the other, with Icera i500 soft-modem logic. Another key difference between the two chips, a major one at that, is that Tegra 4i uses four ARM Cortex-A9 cores, with a fifth energy-saving one, while Tegra 4 uses the beefier Cortex-A15 cores. Yet another difference is that Tegra 4i features a lighter 60-core GPU, while Tegra 4 packs 72 GPU cores.

The Tegra 4i integrates the company's newly launched Chimera mobile computational photography architecture. Chimera provides smartphone designers with a computational pipeline that combines the ARM cores with NVIDIA's GPU cores to accelerate complex photography and video capture features (such as always-on HDR processing, HDR panorama, tap-to-track subject, etc.).

To pitch the Tegra 4i to market heavyweights, NVIDIA also innovated a reference-design smartphone it calls Phoenix. The phone will be shipped to smartphone makers who sample the Tegra 4i. NVIDIA did not give out details, but the Phoenix appears to be a well-equipped touchslab in the 4.5 to 5.5-inch category.

Tegra 4i, the Chimera technology, and Phoenix, will be exhibited at MWC 2013.