Silicon makers almost always put together a reference design of their own for both testing their hardware, optimizing software stack, and generally having something to build to. Increasingly we’ve seen these vendors then take that reference design and do something with it beyond just having it for their own internal use — after all, if you’ve built and qualified a device, it makes sense to do something with it. While NVIDIA isn’t going to sell the FFRD directly, it’s a platform they can quickly hand off to OEMs wanting to implement a smartphone-platform with Tegra 4 or 4i relatively quickly.

To that end, NVIDIA has crafted Phoenix, which is their very own FFRD (Form Factor Reference Design) for both Tegra 4 and 4i versions. The high level specifications are what you’d expect for something from this current generation, with a 5-inch 1080p display, LTE, relatively thin profile, and of course a Tegra 4 SoC inside.

There are actually three different versions of the Phoenix — one in a version with Tegra 4, Tegra 4i without PoP (an external DRAM package), and a Tegra 4i version with PoP memory. All of them have the same PCB geometry inside, just a different SoC, and in the case of the Tegra 4 version, an external Icera i500 modem. NVIDIA showed us an image of their Tegra 4 Phoenix PCB, and in addition the Tegra 4i non PoP and Tegra 4 PCBs in the flesh. The Tegra 4 version has to include both Icera i500 and a MCP DRAM plus NAND of its own adjacent to it, right next to the DRAM for the Tegra 4. On the Tegra 4i version there’s simply unused space in the region occupied by those packages.

Glancing at the Tegra 4i package, we can also get Grey’s actual internal codename, which isn’t T30 series or T40 but rather T8A. The rest of the platform is basically what you’d expect for a modern device, and the PCB follows the rather typical L shaped design that’s common right now across the entire segment.

Gallery: Phoenix PCBs

NVIDIA also showed a Tegra 4i based version of the Phoenix playing a version of Riptide 2 at 1080p with even more graphical assets (real time lighting, shadows, and improved water simulation) enabled over the previous version of Riptide optimized for Tegra 3.

I didn’t get too much time to play with the Phoenix – like any reference design from any of the players in this space it’s more of a function over form piece of equipment for developers or the silicon vendor themselves to get easy access to the insides – but superficially it’s the right kind of stuff for a smartphone right now.

ISP - Chimera Computational Camera Final Words


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  • tipoo - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    Under 500 in Sunspider, about twice as fast as anything else ARM. But then again, it's a few months newer than that, and actually still not shipping. And as usual with Nvidia they're early to each party (first to dual core, first to quad core), but not always the best performing. We'll see if other Cortex A15 designs beat it.

    I'd love to see four of those cores paired with SGXs upcoming 600/Rogue series.
  • jeffkibuule - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    SunSpider is so software sensitive that a Tegra 3 @ 1.2 Ghz on Windows RT beats a Snapdraon S4 Pro @ 1.5Ghz on Nexus 4 using Chrome. It's a terrible benchmark because its so dependent on underlying kernel optimizations in the Android phone market. Reply
  • tipoo - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    True, other benchmarks are similarly impressive though. Reply
  • karasaj - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    Psh it has nothing on my desktop! 125ms on sunspider... Nvidia so behind.

    Anyways, still looks impressive. I really want to see some Krait 600/800 benchmarks.
  • tipoo - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    The fact that they're getting well below an order of magnitude slower than desktops is impressive in itself too. Even with iPad 2 level performance I still was reluctant to do most of my web browsing on a tablet for the performance. Maybe with Tegra 4 and beyond hardware speed that will change. Reply
  • Mumrik - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    As someone with heavily tabbed browsing habits, I don't think I'll ever make that jump (and I own a tablet). Reply
  • tipoo - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    Also true, that's my other thing. I like to open a bunch of background tabs and have them ready as I go through each one. Right now, tablets don't do background loading, as far as I know, and if they did they wouldn't be powerful enough to keep the main tab smooth while doing it. Reply
  • Tarwin - Monday, February 25, 2013 - link

    Tablets DO do background loading, as long as they're android. The only performance I've seen is from lack of RAM on my phone and lack of bandwidth on the phone and tablet but those things affect any computer as well. One observation to ne made, they do load in the background but things like audio and video playback will pause if you switch to another tab. Reply
  • von Krupp - Monday, February 25, 2013 - link

    Even Windows Phone 7.5 and 8 do background loading. I haven't used it, but I'd wager that RT does as well, if even the gimpy mobile OS can. Reply
  • tuxRoller - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    As someone who had, until recently, over 40 tabs open on my chrome browser (Nexus 4), the critical problem has been memory. With enough memory, and good enough task management, these problems tend to go away.
    Of course, maybe you are than 0.00001% who has hundreds or thousands of tabs open in which case I pity any computer you are likely to own.

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