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New Nvidia quad-core SoC packs 60 GPUs, 4G LTE modem

Mar 18, 2013 — by Rick Lehrbaum 1,434 views

Nvidia showcased its first “fully integrated” 4G LTE mobile processor at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month. The Tegra 4i packs four 2.3GHz ARM Cortex-A9 r4 CPU cores, 60 Nvidia GPU cores, a “battery-saver” core, and an LTE modem within a single component.

The highly-integrated Tegra 4i SoC (system-on-chip) contains five times the number of GPU cores as the older Tegra 3 family, resulting in significantly enhanced graphics performance. Additionally, the 4i integrates Nvidia’s i500 SDR baseband functionality, with LTE (long term evolution) capabilities such as communications upgradability and scalability — a feat attributable to the company’s acquisition of Icera in 2011.

Comparison of Tegra 4 to 4i chipset footprints

According to Nvidia, the new higher-integration Tegra 4i targets smartphones, whereas the Tegra 4 is intended for tablets and “superphones.” Both Tegra 4 family SoCs share a common architecture, which includes Nvidia’s Chimera “computational photography” architecture, shown below.


Tegra 4 family’s “Chimera” camera architecture

Nvidia says Chimera implements “some of the same computational imaging technologies used by deep space telescopes and spy satellites.”

Three of Chimera’s coolest picture-taking features, as listed by Nvidia, include:

  • Lets users instantly grab high-quality high-dynamic range photos and videos in a vast array of conditions with a single flash
  • Provides the ability to quickly take wide-angle ‘fish-eye’ photos by simply moving the camera around to ‘paint’ whatever panorama a user desires in real-time
  • Tap-to-track function lets a user touch an image of a person or an object they want to capture, after which the subject of the photo remains in focus as the camera moves — or as the person or object the camera is trying to capture moves — while adjusting for changing lighting conditions

The table below compares the specs of the smaller, more highly integrated Tegra 4i to those of its big brother, the Tegra 4.

  Tegra 4 Tegra 4i
CPU Architecture ARM Cortex-A15 ARM Cortex-A9 r4
CPU Cores 4 4
Battery-saver core yes yes
Max clock 1.9 GHz 2.3 GHz
GPU cores 72 60
Nvidia Computational Photography Architecture Yes Yes
Memory type DDR3L & LPDDR3 LPDDR3
Max external memory 4 GB 2 GB
Max LCD size 3200 x 2000 1920 x 1200
HDMI 4K (UltraHD) 1080P
Modem External LTE chipset Integrated i500 LTE
Package 23×23 BGA 14×14 FCCSP 12×12 POP 12×12 FCCSP
Process 28 nm 28 nm


Stuart Robinson, a director of market research firm Strategy Analytics, commented: “‘Nvidia’s Tegra 4i appears to outperform the leading integrated LTE chip significantly, and also benefits from an integrated ‘soft-modem’ that can be re-programmed over-the-air to support new frequencies and air interfaces — something other modem vendors can only dream of.”

In conjunction with the introduction of the Tegra 4i SoC, Nvidia also unveiled the “Phoenix” reference design (shown below), which is meant to help OEMs rapidly develop phones based on the new SoC.

Tegra 4i “Phoenix” reference design
(click to enlarge)

For further details visit the Tegra 4 area of Nvidia’s website, here.

(advertise here)

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One response to “New Nvidia quad-core SoC packs 60 GPUs, 4G LTE modem”

  1. Maxim says:

    This processor is really cool! We can only guess how much power it consumes with all those cores plus a soft modem LTE. It is good to have a soft modem and update it’s firmware by air but I remember days when some modems were hardware and others were software, but software were awful! Hope this from NVidia is much better! P.S. the reference design looks really pretty! I’d love to have with the ultimate Android or iOS!

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