It's CES 2013, and NVIDIA has just kicked it off in a way that only NVIDIA can: by announcing the world's first quad-core A15 CPU – the Tegra 4. It uses the same 4-PLUS-1 setup as the Tegra 3, which has the fifth "battery saving" core, but supercharges it in basically every way imaginable. For starters, it features 72 GPU cores. That's a lot of cores.
Past that, it's the first Tegra processor to have an onboard 4G LTE modem (finally!).
Update by Artem: We had originally incorrectly specified that the Tegra 4 SoC has an LTE modem built-in. NVIDIA's press event sort of alluded to it, touting its improvements over previous Tegra generations, but, alas, that's not the case. Additionally, the wording in the press release, which referred to the modem as an "optional chipset" was misconstrued to be an optional component of the SoC. Here is the clarification provided by NVIDIA after we reached out to them via email:
Tegra 4’s LTE capability is offered via an optional chipset, the Icera i500.
Yes, i500 is considered a separate modem. Technically the i500 modem is a chipset because it’s 2 chips – baseband and RF.
End of update.
NVIDIA has also tweaked the way the T4 renders photographs – by taking two shots at once and dropping them into a "computational photography engine," it effectively produces an HDR-quality shot instantly. That's neat stuff.
Of course, this is a Tegra chip we're talking about here, so you know it's going to bring mobile gaming to the next level. The T4 doesn't look like it's going to disappoint, as displayed by the new gameplay teaser for – get this – Dead Trigger 2. Hell yes!
Update: It looks like NVIDIA had something special up its sleeve this year – it announced a new pure Android-powered gaming device called Project SHEILD. This will be the first Tegra 4 device to hit the streets.
While the device is clearly designed for gaming, it's basically a small tablet with a built-in controller. Other details – like release date info – are scant for the time being, but we'll definitely keep you posted as more info about SHIELD and other T4 devices arises.
LAS VEGAS, NV--(Marketwire - Jan 7, 2013) - CES -- NVIDIA today introduced NVIDIA®Tegra® 4, the world's fastest mobile processor, with record-setting performance and battery life to flawlessly power smartphones and tablets, gaming devices, auto infotainment and navigation systems, and PCs.
Tegra 4 offers exceptional graphics processing, with lightning-fast web browsing, stunning visuals and new camera capabilities through computational photography.
Previously codenamed "Wayne," Tegra 4 features 72 custom NVIDIA GeForce™ GPU cores -- or six times the GPU horsepower of Tegra 3 -- which deliver more realistic gaming experiences and higher resolution displays. It includes the first quad-core application of ARM's most advanced CPU core, the Cortex-A15, which delivers 2.6x faster web browsing and breakthrough performance for apps.
Tegra 4 also enables worldwide 4G LTE voice and data support through an optional chipset, the fifth-generation NVIDIA Icera® i500 processor. More efficient and 40 percent the size of conventional modems, i500 delivers four times the processing capability of its predecessor.
"Tegra 4 provides enormous processing power and efficiency to power smartphones and tablets, gaming devices, auto systems and PCs," said Phil Carmack, senior vice president of the Tegra business at NVIDIA. "Its new capabilities, particularly in the area of computational photography, will help improve a whole range of existing products and lead to the creation of exciting new ones."
Computational Photography Capability
Among the Tegra 4 processor's breakthroughs is its Computational Photography Architecture, which automatically delivers high dynamic range (HDR) photos and video by fusing together the processing power of the GPU, CPU and the camera's image-signal processor.
Its HDR capability captures images, including those taken with a flash, the way they are seen by the human eye -- with detail in both bright and dark areas.
Unprecedented Power Efficiency
Designed for maximum energy efficiency, Tegra 4 includes a second-generation battery saver core for low power during standard use, and PRISM 2 Display technology to reduce backlight power while delivering superior visuals.
Tegra 4 consumes up to 45 percent less power than its predecessor, Tegra 3, in common use cases. And it enables up to 14 hours of HD video playback on phones.
Tegra 4 Key Features
- GeForce GPU with 72 custom cores
- Quad-core ARM Cortex-A15 CPU, plus a 2nd Generation Battery Saver Core
- Computational Photography Architecture
- LTE capability with optional Icera i500 chipset
- 4K ultra-high-def video support