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NVIDIA Announces Tegra 4i With Integrated LTE Chip, 60-core GPU, and Half the Size of New Snapdragons


This morning, NVIDIA announced the newest member to the Tegra 4 family called the Tegra 4i. This is their first LTE integrated chip, so if it’s adopted by phone manufacturers, we should finally start to see more Tegra-equipped smartphones in the mass market. In the past, Tegra chips were separate from LTE modems, which gave Qualcomm and their integrated Snapdragon processors a head start on LTE phones. With this new Tegra 4i chip and the technology behind it, NVIDIA may have a winning formula, one that will target the mainstream phone market, with Tegra 4 still powering superphones. 

Tegra 4i

The Tegra 4i features a quad-core (4-PLUS-1) CPU based on ARM’s R4 Cortex-A9 CPU, along with a fifth battery saver core. It has a 60-core GPU, an integrated version of NVIDIA’s i500 LTE modem, NVIDIA’s new Chimera computational photography architecture, and is about half the size of the new Snapdragon 800. It’s not quite the beast that the Tegra 4 is, but it does bring power and efficiency to the mass smartphone market that was once only seen in superphones. NVIDIA and ARM are calling this processor, which can be clocked at 2.3GHz, the “most efficient, highest performance CPU core on the market.”

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tegra 4 specs

Phoenix Reference Phone

To help get the Tegra 4i to market quicker, NVIDIA created the Phoenix reference phone platform, which sports a 5″ 1080p display, Tegra 4i processor, 4G LTE, computational photography architecture (for awesome HDR photos), and is only 8mm thick.

Phoenix Reference Phone_int

Chimera Computational Photography Architecture

If you watched NVIDIA’s press event at CES, then you likely remember their CEO standing on stage with an attractive female in some sort of beach setting, so that they could demo some sort of new photography tech. That tech, is called Chimera, and it’s included in both the Tegra 4 and the Tegra 4i.

Chimera introduces “always on” HDR, HDR panoramic or “fish eye” modes, and tap-to-track, allowing users to lock the focus onto a specific object, even as it moves around.

Camera and phone manufacturers can already add support for Chimera. In fact, Sony already has with its Exmor RS 13MP sensor.


Quite a bit of big news out of NVIDIA’s camp this morning. We have the new Tegra 4i, a tiny processor with tons of power and efficiency, along with an integrated LTE chip to help bring NVIDIA’s processors to the mainstream market. They provided more details on Chimera, their photography architecture that takes HDR smartphone shots to a new level. And last, the Phoenix reference design, which should help manufacturers quickly build out devices using the new Tegra 4i.

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  • kixofmyg0t

    It’s more like Tegra3+.

  • Jonathan Bunch

    yup calling it right now, this will be in the Xphone!

    • bull3964

      I sure as hell hope not. This is a low to mid end SoC. This is not a superphone SoC. An A9 based SoC has no business in a superphone slated for mid to late 2013.

      • Jonathan Bunch

        well it wont work on verzions network anway so oh well… :/

    • kixofmyg0t

      Well seeing how nVidia screwed Motorola in a exclusivity deal right after the Atrix and Xoom hit market (which they then dumped remaining inventory into making the horrible X2) and never went back I’m going to say you’re wrong.

      The X will be Snapdragon based.

    • No nvidia. Unless you WANT the phone to suck. Sammy, Ti, or QC

  • owan

    Seems like a shame nV decided to stick this with what looks like a simple die shrink of the Tegra 3 CPU. Why not a 2+1 A15 rather than a 4+1 A9 when everyone else is moving away from the old A9 core.

  • Calvin Williams

    Exynos 5 Octacore. Has both power saver and A15 gaming power.

  • bull3964

    So, when everyone is moving on to A15 based SoCs, Nvidia wants people to backtrack to an A9?

    I guess it may be good for a budget phone, but I remain skeptical that OEMs will want to support more than one SoC manufacturer moving forward, especially when the general trend is to have fewer variants.

    • coolsilver

      It isn’t much a backtrack. CPUs often reduce size of chip while taking back a little. If they can cram all that into a chip smaller than the one with the smaller nanometer circuits then they can boost even more when it drops nanometer size again. It’s about size and efficiency.

      • I agree – I’ll take a small hit in CPU performance for a larger increase in power efficiency. Battery is still the long pole in the tent for me.

      • bull3964

        It depends if they did anything else to that quad core A9 design from Tegra 3. Tegra 3, quite frankly, is quite slow now.

        The S4 is an A9 core with many A15 like design elements which puts it halfway between the two generations and a dual core S4 handily dispatches the quad core Tegra 3. If all they did is die shrink the Tegra3 and increase the clock speed, then successive generations of dual core S4s are going to continue to eat its lunch when it comes to performance, even in the low end space.

        Right now I own devices with the following chipsets.

        OMAP3 (OG Droid)
        Tegra 2 (Motorola Xoom)
        OMAP4 (Galaxy Nexus)
        Tegra 3 (Nexus 7)
        S4 (Razr HD MAXX)
        Exynos 5 (Nexus 10)

        I can tell you the last two on that list are head and shoulders above the predecessors in performance (with the Exynos 5 blowing everything out of the water.)

        Then there’s the fact that Nvidia is a new kid on the block when it comes to integrated LTE. It’s going to be a hard sale going up against proven solutions like qualcomm which have virtually eliminated battery LTE battery penalty and stability issues.

        It’s just standard Nvidia being about 6 months behind the curve and it’s going to be increasingly harder for them to get OEMs to use their chipsets has they shrink their product lineups and concentrate on a few devices a year.

    • C-Law

      I see this being used for low end phones only most likely. The high end phones will run A15 SoC to be able to say they are the latest and greatest thing. Nvidia will continue to be behind Qualcomm for at least this year since I’m sure Samsung has already picked a Qualcomm based a15 core for their American s4 and the note 3 will probably follow suit. Unless Samsung is using their own chips in north America this year

    • Simon Belmont

      I wouldn’t call it a backtrack. The regular Tegra 4 chip is A15 based.

      This one is A9 based because it’s more budget friendly. Different chips for different demographics.

  • chris125

    Can’t wait to see it in some phones

  • More power using less power in a smaller package. Grand.

    Nice to see you up-n-at’em so early – or is it because you’re EST today?

  • Give me this in the Motorola X phone for Verizon and call it a day 🙂

    • Prox

      what are the chances the Motorola X phone is a Intel x86 processor?

      • tyguy829

        0%. Intel keeps their code and stuff locked up super tight, so it would be really hard to develop for and definitely couldnt be put on AOSP.

        • JWellington

          Actually, x86 is the most ubiquitous platform there is. It has wide support across the board: GNU GCC and the Linux Kernel are stalwarts.

        • rstat1

          I disagree. Firstly, x86 support is already available in AOSP, and secondly as far as the Linux kernel is concerned, Intel is among the top 3 contributors.