1-6-2013 8-56-29 PM

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.

1-6-2013 8-56-29 PM

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.

1-6-2013 9-07-53 PM

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.

1-6-2013 9-33-01 PM

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.

More Tegra 4 Info

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
Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • leenephi


  • Aaron Douglas Charlong

    So is Nvidia up to their old tricks with GPU cores, and do they actually mean 72 shaders? Or does Tegra 4 actually have a 72 core GPU?

    Either way, on board LTE! Hooray!

    • Sean Lumly

      They actually mean cores, though each core can likely only do one MAD. What ARM has done with the Mali, and Imagination has done with the PowerVR (to a greater extent) is to reduce redundancies by reducing the number or core instances and reducing the overlap of functionality that is replicated with each core instance. This means that there is much more die space that is available for pipelines or efficiency logic. I expect that Tegra 4 will get trampled by Mali T678 @28nm and even more so by the imgtec series 6 GPUs... The Mali T604 is the bottom rung of ARMs GPUs and is deployed at 32nm in the Exynos 5250, it will get FAR better.

      I do like the single companion core. I do wonder if this implementation is smaller that ARMs big.LITTLE arrangement...

      • PINJ

        The Tegra Is More Intelligent Though

      • http://twitter.com/arghness Alex

        That's great, but if developers keep releasing games with enhanced graphics for Tegra devices, it doesn't matter if other devices are technically better.

        • Kokusho


        • Sean Lumly

          Don't get me wrong: I think that Nvidia is generally doing wonderful things for Android advocacy, and this will be a powerful next-gen SoC. I also think that platform specific optimization is a reason to keep an eye on Tegra 4 for outstanding graphics and even exclusive 'enhanced' effects. I think that the Shield is a great idea for gamers, and will begin to compete head-on with the console market; a great innovation!

          That said, from a strictly performance standpoint, I expect that the Tegra 4 will have been bested when -- or shortly after -- it comes to market. The competing companies (albeit from a tech-only standpoint) have very formidable optimizations that reduce bandwidth strain and general computation throughput by avoiding unnecessary work.

          I do also think that certain other GPUs will get much developer attention due to their popularity. Of the platforms to note, Mali will get a lot of developer attention as Samsung uses this for the Galaxy S line of smartphones, which are easily the largest Android released devices and among the best selling smartphones ever. I also expect that the PowerVR GPUs will get a lot of attention as well in upcoming Sony devices, as this is the GPU of choice for iOS devices, meaning the assets and shaders should be transferable between platforms.

        • Tomi Golob

          Yeah go.play vice city and games like that on a Tegra device ! lawlz guaranteed

      • Sean Lumly

        I just did a little research, and it seems that the Cortex A7 (the LITTLE core in the big.LITTLE arrangement) is roughly 1/4 the size of the Cortex A15 core. That said, in a quad-core Cortex A15 big.LITTLE arrangement, you would get four Cortex A15 cores, and four Cortex A7 cores in the same space as the single companion core in the Tegra 4. As I understand it, both implementations (big.LITTLE and Tegra 4) are completely managed by the SoC (and transparent to the OS).

        I'm curious about the benefits of each implementation: NVidia's and ARMs. Something tells me that offloading multi-core work to the big.LITTLE will be quicker, though I do wonder which will be generally better for power consumption, and which will perform better.

    • PINJ

      Doesnt Matter. Xbox 360 Gfx Are Xbox 360 Gfx.

    • GraveUypo

      yes they mean shader units.

    • Abhijeet Mishra

      I've always had the same question and thought they were shader units, but someone on Extremetech had this to say to me:

      "12 Unified Shader Unit> 12 CUDA cores > 12 CoresKeyword is "Unified". Tegra 3 utilizes a Geforce 8 class GPU, with which Nvidia switched to unified shader architecture. The reason Nvidia called them "cores" is they are capable of doing computing tasks in addition to graphics processing, which makes them a kinda like a traditional CPU, but with far more parallel computing capability."

      To which another guy replied:

      "Tegra 3 DID NOT use unified shader cores. they were seperated as 8 pixel shaders and 4 vertex shaders for a total of 12 stream processors, which in turn is actually 1 GPU core.

      Tegra 4, is suppose to use programmable unified shader (CUDA). it's 72 stream processor, these shaders are unified, so they can do pixel, vertex...

      Tegra 3's 12 cores are NOT CUDA CORES."

      And in the end, I have no idea what to believe. >_>

    • Tomi Golob

      Haha... let's hope so for new suckers who buy a Tegra chipset device mwahahah...

  • http://katzmatt.com/ Matt Katzenberger

    Well my nexus 10 feels inferior now.

    • Aaron Douglas Charlong

      My Nexus 4 does too, and it hasn't even arrived yet. Haha.

    • Matthew Fry

      It enjoyed the top spot for only a month or two... :-P Anyway, the N10 will probably still come in at a much lower price point than any 10" Tegra 4 devices.

  • chris125

    Can't wait to see what phones this makes it into

  • Athishay

    Tegra 4 HTC nexus phone with a removable battery and memory card slot... Please!
    A guy can dream, right?

    • Elias

      Also usb otg, unbreakable 1080p amoled @ 5.5 inches, decent speaker, MIMO wifi, optical zoom/wide-angle and... ummm... a cold beer?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001482286220 Karan Ocs

        5.5" would be nothing without a Wacom Digitzer and a pen !

        please i love pen but i hate samsung !

        • Kokusho

          the S-Pen on the Note 10.1 sucks (I didn't try the one on the note 2 but I read that its the same). Even if it have the wacom name in it it doesn't come even remotly close to a real wacom intuos pen, even a 10 years old one.
          The first sensibility level is way way to high, and you have to press really harder to reach the next levels.
          The only upside versus any capacitive stylus is the thiner tip.
          As someone who use wacom tablet since 10 years the S-Pen doesn't provide the sensivity requiered to use as a drawing device. At least for me. At this point I'm better of with my fingers, there s no sensibility either but at least I'm confortable.

          • Tomi Golob

            Samsung should stick their pen up their S

      • PINJ

        Theres No Unbreakable Screen

        • Nevi_me

          Gorilla announcing one at CES hopefully ...

          • Tomi Golob

            Anybody can be killed ...and everything man made is breakable

      • Athishay

        Definitely a cold beer.

      • Sqube

        Gods above, no. I don't want a screen bigger than five inches because I'd like an at-least remotely pocketable phone that I can hold up to my face without feeling like I'm holding an ereader next to my head.

        • mgamerz

          what's an ereader? Also what's myspace?

    • PINJ

      Removable Battery Might But Wont Happen

    • Sqube

      Google is done with microSD slots. Other than that... there's nothing that makes your dream excessively impossible.

  • http://twitter.com/ZenYagami zen kun

    wondering, real A15 or like Qualcomm? a "hybrid"

    • Yu Liu

      it's a real A15, just not using the BIG.Little structure A15.A7 but rather Nvidia Fifth core

    • PINJ

      Ugh. They Say It. RIGHT THERE. Ive Had Enough Of These Dumb Posts For Today.

  • http://twitter.com/GitMuny Ciroc Obama

    Hmm well I know the 4+1 is supposed to be power efficent but are the a15 cores helping or hurting that? From what little I have read I thought the nexus 10 had less than stellar battery life. It will be interesting to see if nvidia can hang with qualcomm and their typically more efficient soc's.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Campbell/100002395426837 Steven Campbell

    World's fastest because its the only first quadcore A15 processor. Just wait for Samsung and Qualcom to release theirs.

    • Simon_K

      Samsung already released their dual-core A5 chipset 2 month ago.

      • PINJ

        Quadcore You Moron

        • PINJ

          Quadcore You Intelligent Genius

    • Kokusho

      the S4 Pro is the Qualcom's version of a quad ARM15.

      • PINJ

        No Its Not.

        • Kokusho

          yes it is, Qualcom's custom design Krait is the closest to ARM A15 they'll get.

          • PINJ

            Oh So No Its The CLOSEST. Before You Said It WAS (No SImilarity).

    • PINJ

      Then Wait For Nvidia To Release Theirs, Then Wait For Apple To Release Theirs, Than Wait For Sony To Release Theirs Then Wait For HTC To Release Theirs, Than Wait For Huawei To Release Theirs, Then Wait For Nvidia To Release Theirs, Then Wait For Apple To Release
      Theirs, Than Wait For Sony To Release Theirs Then Wait For HTC To
      Release Theirs, Than Wait For Huawei To Release Theirs, Then Wait For Nvidia To Release Theirs, Then Wait For Apple To Release
      Theirs, Than Wait For Sony To Release Theirs Then Wait For HTC To
      Release Theirs, Than Wait For Huawei To Release Theirs

  • http://twitter.com/iSim0n Simon W

    LTE isn't on-board.
    "LTE capability with optional Icera i500 chipset"

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      You're right. I've updated the post.

  • John_Merritt


  • http://twitter.com/Rovex Rovex

    Nice, but is this going to have decent software backup? I dont mean games and apps, i mean a good set of sources. Tegra was always powerful, but it never had the smoothness or responsiveness of Qualcomm or Exynos because it had very poor software. Exynos devices particularly always feel faster and smoother than any Tegra of any generation.

    • Tomi Golob

      Lol...no Tegra sucked because it's crap compared to Exynos and others. People bought it just because it had the fancy nvidia logo... not to mention the lies nvidia spreads about the number of cores which actually are not technically gpu cores. ..

      Sorry im just angry at them

  • Richard Lindberg

    The padfone 2 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Quad Core Cortex A15 so I would beg to differ of T4 being the first A15 class

  • max

    I don't understand why nowadays more games are only being optimised for tegra 3 only?? Adreno 320 and powervrSGX544MP3 which is inside exynos 5 octa are far more powerful than tegra 3. Is it because of tegra 4?? Nvidia is just going all out to make themselves better in consumer's view. Nvidia also said themselves that their tegra 4 is more powerful than s800 according to their own tests not the official and real world tests done outside of their company. They just want to look good in front of others. Anyway nobody got time for that. Just waiting for ARM to show their real demon power of their GPU Mali-T678 which is a powerhouse of 378GFLOPS compared to 96GFLOPS of Nvidia Tegra 4...