Starting CES off with a bang, Nvidia has announced their next generation Tegra 4 chipset for sim-free smartphones, tablets and notebooks.
Like its predecessor, the Tegra 4 includes four high-speed processor cores as well as a fifth low-power companion core. The idea is that the four main cores are used for intensive tasks, while the companion core takes over for easier tasks like playing video or music. This offers a best-of-both-worlds balance between processing power and power consumption.
The fourth-generation chip is built on a new 28 nm architecture, which offers greater efficiency than the previous 40nm process of Tegra 3. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang has called the Tegra 4 the world’s fastest mobile processor, although he hasn’t yet confirmed specifics in terms of CPU frequency and details of the on-chip graphics processor. It’s rumoured that the quad-core CPU runs at 1.9 GHz and that the GPU contains 72 CUDA cores – which should result in fittingly brilliant performance.
So far, Tegra 4 has been shown off on just a small number of devices, including an unnamed Windows RT tablet for a demonstration of HDR photography, Vizio’s 10″ 2560 x 1600 tablet running Android and Nvidia’s own Project Shield. This is a handheld games console that includes a 5″ 720p display mounted above an Xbox 360 style controller, within which the Tegra 4 chipset lurks.
It’s not yet known how the Tegra 4 chipset will compare to Qualcomm’s newly announced 600 and 800 series architecture – while both companies will hold that their mobile processor is superior, it won’t really be until we see the first benchmark results with Tegra 4 and Qualcomm 800 devices that we’ll really be able to judge the platform’s strengths and weaknesses. Either way, both look to be strong upgrades from the previous generation and will no doubt form the core of flagship mobile devices in 2013.