Final Words

NVIDIA’s Tegra 4 is a significant step forward in both CPU and GPU performance. Although Tegra 3 was decent in both areas, Tegra 4 really moves things forward. ARM’s Cortex A15 is an excellent performer, although that performance comes at a high power cost. In a tablet, as we’ve already seen with Google’s Nexus 10, the power consumption associated with the Cortex A15 core is manageable. If NVIDIA’s data is to be believed however, Tegra 4 can get into a smartphone just by aggressively controlling frequencies. At reduced frequencies, Tegra 4 can draw less power than Tegra 3 but with no performance advantage. NVIDIA could then scale up performance (and power) to offer an improvement over Tegra 3. The real question at that point is whether or not Qualcomm’s Krait 300/400 designs offer better efficiency at these intermediate points on the performance/power curve. We’ll be able to find out for sure later this year when both Tegra 4 and Snapdragon 600/800 based devices are shipping.

Icera i500 looks like an interesting competitor in the modem space, which presently is dominated by Qualcomm. More competition is always good, and before the NVIDIA acquisition Icera was on the up and up with impressive performance and interesting SDR architecture. In addition the integration into NVIDIA's own SoC seems to have taken place pretty quickly, and we had the opportunity to see it in the flesh doing over 100 Mbps on a test box.

On the imaging side NVIDIA's Chimera ISP architecutre looks intriguing, though it is obvious that NVIDIA is trying to craft a compelling story for leveraging the GPU. What we did see of HDR video capture and assist looks better than some of the other solutions out there, and object tracking does make for a compelling demo even if it requires user training.

NVIDIA’s biggest advantage hasn’t been architecture, but rather being in the right design wins. Without a doubt, the Nexus 7 and Surface RT were significant wins for NVIDIA last year and they really helped ensure a successful year for NVIDIA’s Tegra business. Whether or not NVIDIA will be able to guarantee similarly key design wins with Tegra 4 remains to be seen. The architecture looks good enough on paper, now it’s just up to NVIDIA’s sales teams to get it into the right devices.

Hands on with the Phoenix, NVIDIA's FFRD
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  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - link

    Get a life. Reply
  • StormyParis - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    I'd go with Anand, anytime. Charlie is a raving bitch. Reply
  • mayankleoboy1 - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    Except that this raving bitch has accurately predicted the future course of most companies months before anybody. Reply
  • Avalon - Monday, February 25, 2013 - link

    If by accurate you mean he made many predictions for every company and when one of the predictions came true everyone forgot about all the wrong ones. He guesses. Reply
  • Kiste - Monday, February 25, 2013 - link

    Confirmation bias ahoy! Reply
  • AmdInside - Monday, February 25, 2013 - link

    Are you kidding me? Even congress lies less than Charlie does. Reply
  • jjj - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    I wouldn't expect a huge downclock for phones , they do need to limit heat, not going with POP for the RAM helps ,some actual cooling (air gap or metal) could also be used so they will most likely allow 1-2 cores to go pretty high and maybe all 4 for short periods of time (so the usual tricks to get more out of it). Reply
  • R3MF - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    re tegra 4 gpu architecture.

    how did you get through this many words without mentioning OpenCL?

    lack of ES 3.0 is only half the problem.
    Reply
  • cmikeh2 - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    He does reference it when discussing the Chimera ISP:

    "At the same time, the elephant in the room is OpenCL (and its current absence on Tegra 4) and what direction the industry will take that to leverage GPU compute for some computational photography processing."
    Reply
  • guidryp - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    The Icera acquisition was a brilliant one. This gives NVidia the complete mobile package. It will be very interesting to see how this works out in practice. NVidia is a fierce competitor, Qualcomm should be worried. Reply

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