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Nvidia Tegra 4i smartphone processor revealed

Nvidia has announced a new smartphone processor, dubbed the Tegra 4i, just before an unveiling at Mobile World Congress next week

Nvidia has revealed the Tegra 4i, a smartphone processor designed for mid-range devices. The single-chip CPU, which is based on the ARM A9 core, will be the first from Nvidia with integrated 4G LTE support, as well as 1080p resolution compatibility and always-on HDR photography.

Tegra 4i will use four ARM “R4” A9 cores, along with a fifth battery saver core, running at a massive 2.3GHz. Nvidia redesigned the ARM core, rather than use the newer A15 design that will be seen in the larger Tegra 4 chipset, in order to reduce its power consumption and physical footprint for smaller smartphones, rather than the 5in plus “superphones” we’re beginning to see from the likes of Sony, Huawei and ZTE. At 60mm2, it’s roughly half the size of competing chips, and it promises to be less power hungry than the full-fat Tegra 4 – which itself uses less power than Tegra 3.

Nvidia Tegra 4i

It uses the same GPU core as the larger Tegra 4, albeit witrh fewer cores – 60 instead of 72. The integrated i500 core provides 3G and 4G compatibility, and is roughly 40% the size of a traditional LTE chip.

Nvidia claims its improvements give it a 30% clock-for-clock improvement over the outgoing Tegra 3 chipset, although it has yet to reveal firm benchmark figures.

Nvidia Tegra 4i

Tegra 4i will also introduce a computational photography system Nvidia is calling Chimera – it will allow smartphone cameras to take HDR photography and video, regardless of mode – making it one of the first to support HDR panoramas and burst mode, or shooting in HDR with the flash enabled. It also includes Tap to Track, a system for shooting moving objects that can keep them in focus even if they leave the field of view and come back.

Nvidia Tegra 4i

To get Tegra 4i off the ground, Nvidia will produce a reference phone codenamed Pheonix, based around a 5in 1080p display with integrated LTE. Unfortunately, it won’t be put into production and will be left to manufacturing partners to get devices out to customers.

Nvidia Tegra 4i

We’ll have a long wait to see how Tegra 4i stacks up to the competition – Nvidia expects the very first phones to go on sale at the end of the year, with most releases not happening until Q1 2013. We’ll get a closer look at Tegra 4i at Mobile World Congress in a week’s time, but with such a long time to wait we’ll have to see how well it compares to Qualcomm and ARM in a year’s time.

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