Tablet devices of the future will pack in a lot more oomph thanks to the Tegra 4 chip Nvidia has just come out with. Based on the quad core ARM Cortex A15 processor, the chip features the same 4 + 1 quad core set up of Tegra 3 with the additional low power core to enhance battery life, but it is built on an entirely new architecture. In fact, what makes Tegra 4 special is the inclusion of 72 custom graphics processing unit cores, which translates to far better graphics processing capability.
“This thing is flooded with GPU cores,” exclaimed Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang during the unveiling at the CES event.
Huang hasn’t revealed the speed at which the new Tegra 4 chip operates, though he did announce the Tegra 4 is the fastest mobile chip the world has ever seen. To back up his claims, he pitted a Tegra 4 enabled tablet device against one of the fastest tablet devices now available, the Nexus 10. Both were made to load 25 sites, which the Tegra 4 powered device accomplished in 27 seconds compared to 50 seconds that the Nexus 10 took to do the same. The Tegra 4 chip will also support 4K ultra high definition video.
Another aspect Huang has yet to come clean on is whether the Tegra 4 is built using 28nm process. Tegra 3 is built using 40nm, though Qualcomm has already moved on the more advanced 28nm semiconductor manufacturing process with its S4 chip. This has already worked in the S4 chip’s favor, which has seen greater application on smartphone and tablet devices than Tegra 3.
However, while Huang is claiming class leading battery performance with the Tegra 4 possibly hinting at a 28nm process, the one thing that might still hurt Tegra 4’s prospects is that the chip does not come with integrated support for LTE. This means tablet devices built around Tegra 4 will have to accommodate a separate 4G modem to make up for the processor’s lack of it. Qualcomm’s newest quad core chip is also without integrated LTE support, but it intends to cover the lapse with another new chip in spring that will be LTE enabled. In contrast, Nvidia is expected to match that only towards the latter half of 2013.
Expect more on this including pricing or availability of Tegra 4 powered tablet devices during CES.