So, Grey = Tegra 3.5

s44

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Oct 13, 2006
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This is the most confusing announcement of the morning. Nvidia now has a high-clocked quad (well, 4+1) A9 with a lot more GPU power than the T3 and integrated LTE... which, in classic confusing-product-name style, is called Tegra 4i. Is this their main product for the year, or a stopgap because A15 isn't launching for ages?

The spec geek in me is disappointed, but I do wonder how much battery life this could push in a midrange (say 4.3" 720p) phone.
 

s44

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Oct 13, 2006
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Oh wait, if Brian and Anand are correct, this is mostly irrelevant for us:
In terms of time frame, NVIDIA expects the first Tegra 4i designs to begin shipping at the end of 2013, with most devices appearing in Q1 of 2014.
However, this is great:
Tegra 4i inside, 5-inch 1080p display, LTE, and just 8 mm of thickness. What's more impressive is that NVIDIA claims the reference design can be picked up by an OEM and ship with an unsubsidized price tag of between $100-$300 USD.
 

Mopetar

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Jan 31, 2011
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Its starting to look like 2014 is when the spec race ends and the price war begins.

But it won't stop anyone around here from complaining that a phone doesn't have a 8 true cores instead of a 4+4 configuration or something else like that. :p
 

s44

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Given the timeframe, anyone else think el Goog's next holiday offering might include a $150 Nexus 4i? Yeah, it would be slower on CPU than the 4, but at that sort of price and with LTE and 1080p...
 

dlock13

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Oct 24, 2006
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Given the timeframe, anyone else think el Goog's next holiday offering might include a $150 Nexus 4i? Yeah, it would be slower on CPU than the 4, but at that sort of price and with LTE and 1080p...

I could really see that, but too bad it won't be on Verizon. Why? Because Verizon needs to have 100% control over their devices.

I know, I know, just jump ship from VZW and call it a day. However, with the discount I get, it's really not an option. :p
 

Bateluer

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I could really see that, but too bad it won't be on Verizon. Why? Because Verizon needs to have 100% control over their devices.

I know, I know, just jump ship from VZW and call it a day. However, with the discount I get, it's really not an option. :p

I'm one of the many people still clinging to the unlimited data plan, and I've bought both the GNex and Razr HD Maxx at full MSRP to hold onto it. If, and I expect them to try, Verizon attempts to yank my unlimited data in a few months, that'll be it. Through my employer, I get a 20% discount and a 50 dollar expense. The % discount only applies to Verizon, but the $50 expense carries to any carrier.
 

StrangerGuy

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May 9, 2004
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Why do I get the feeling whatever NV does Qualcomm will still wipe them off on performance?
 

Puddle Jumper

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Why do I get the feeling whatever NV does Qualcomm will still wipe them off on performance?

Probably because all of the previous generations of Tegra have been heavy on hype and light on substance.

T1 - Crushed by QSD8250
T2 - Crushed by Exynos 4210 and OMAP 4
T3 - Beaten by Exynos 4 Quad and Krait
 

ams23

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Feb 18, 2013
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Anandtech talked about Tegra 4i here: http://www.anandtech.com/show/6753/...-4i-formerly-project-grey-with-integrated-lte

Tegra 4i has most of the same technology as Tegra 4 (including next gen computational photography architecture, next gen ULP Geforce GPU, etc.). The main differences between Tegra 4i and Tegra 4 are: 1) Tegra 4i uses a next gen R4 Cortex A9 CPU design (rather than the next gen Cortex A15 CPU design used in Tegra 4); 2) Tegra 4i uses a next gen 60 "core" ULP Geforce GPU (rather than the next gen 72 "core" ULP Geforce GPU used in Tegra 4); 3) Tegra 4i has the Icera i500 baseband modem processor integrated on the SoC die (rather than the separate Icera i500 baseband modem processor available with Tegra 4).

R4 Cortex A9 (relative to prior gen Cortex A9) is said to include "higher IPC thanks to the addition of a better data prefetching engine, dedicated hardware for cache preload instructions and some larger buffers". The reason that NVIDIA is going with R4 quad Cortex A9 in their low cost smartphones is to maximize performance per mm^2 (and perhaps performance per watt too). While Cortex A15 has higher performance per clock and higher maximum performance (and hence will be used in Tegra 4 high end smartphones and tablets), R4 Cortex A9 reportedly has higher performance per mm^2 in comparison: http://androidandme.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/tegra-4i-vs-krait-s800.jpg . And with a 60 "core" ULP Geforce GPU using all the same basic technology as the 72 "core" ULP Geforce GPU in Tegra 4, the GPU performance of Tegra 4i should be pretty impressive, especially for a low cost smartphone.

We will have to wait until end of 2013 (or early 2014) to see commercial smartphones with Tegra 4i, but we should see some commercial high end smartphones and tablets using Tegra 4 and a separate Icera i500 baseband modem processor well before that.
 
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lopri

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I think it's going to be a decent chip provided it's got improved memory controller. (dual channel, at a minimum) It could dominate affordable 7~8" tablets holiday season towards the end of year. With double the clock speed and larger GPU resources, its performance can reasonably be expected to be 2x of Tegra 3 in most usage scenarios.
 

ams23

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Feb 18, 2013
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Considering that Tegra 4i will have much higher GPU performance than Tegra 3 (with a 60 "core" ULP Geforce GPU), and considering that Tegra 4i will have much higher CPU performance than Tegra 3 (with increased IPC and increased CPU clock operating frequencies), then I believe that the only logical conclusion is that Tegra 4i will indeed use a dual channel memory controller.

In fact, the Tegra 4i GPU should have the same improved feature set (over the Tegra 3 GPU) as Tegra 4 does, which according to Anandtech includes the following: "Real multisampling AA is finally supported as well as frame buffer compression (color and z). There's now support for 24-bit z and stencil (up from 16 bits per pixel). Max texture resolution is now 4K x 4K, up from 2K x 2K in Tegra 3. Percentage-closer filtering is supported for shadows".
 
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StrangerGuy

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I think it's going to be a decent chip provided it's got improved memory controller. (dual channel, at a minimum) It could dominate affordable 7~8" tablets holiday season towards the end of year. With double the clock speed and larger GPU resources, its performance can reasonably be expected to be 2x of Tegra 3 in most usage scenarios.

Tegra 3 is so weak that even with 2x the performance it will barely catch up the S4 Pro, let alone the next-gen SoCs in Q2.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/snapdragon-s4-pro-apq8064-msm8960t,3291-3.html
 

lopri

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Jul 27, 2002
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Well, "affordable" being another keyword there. I don't expect it to trump newer Exynos or Snapdragons. I've read a rumor blog that Google ditching Tegra 3 in favor of Snapdragon Pro for the Nexus 7 successor.
 

ams23

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Tegra 3 is so weak that even with 2x the performance it will barely catch up the S4 Pro, let alone the next-gen SoCs in Q2.

Tegra 4i will have 5x more pixel/vertex shader execution units than Tegra 3, and Tegra 4 will have 6x more pixel/vertex shader execution units than Tegra 3.
 

Ventanni

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Jul 25, 2011
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Tegra 4i for phones, Tegra 4 for tablets? Nvidia needs to change up their naming scheme.
 

s44

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Oct 13, 2006
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T1 - Crushed by QSD8250
T2 - Crushed by Exynos 4210 and OMAP 4
T3 - Beaten by Exynos 4 Quad and Krait
Not to go all BenSkywalker on you, but on what planet are SoCs that release 6 months later *not* expected to beat 6-month-old designs? Nvidia has been first to market in every cycle except this one (in which T3 continues to have life with the N7 and Ouya).

Not to mention that Qualcomm has been behind on GPU *every single generation*.
 

Mopetar

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Why do I get the feeling whatever NV does Qualcomm will still wipe them off on performance?

Well NV is basically just using the stock ARM cores, while Qualcomm is tweaking them and getting some additional performance out of them. The GPU technology Qualcomm has came from AMD/ATI so it's not as though they don't have anything useful their either. They've also got better baseband expertise as well.
 

ams23

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There is nothing wrong with stock ARM Cortex cores. The reality is that Qualcomm is on a somewhat different design cadence vs. NVIDIA and others using ARM processors. At the end of 2011, NVIDIA introduced quad core Cortex A9 CPU, which was a significant improvement over Qualcomm's CPU's at the time. At some point in 2012, Qualcomm introduced the Krait CPU, which improved on the Cortex A9 design. At some point in 2013, NVIDIA introduced the Cortex A15 CPU, which improved on the Krait design. And so on and so forth. Moving forward after that, things will start to get more interesting, because NVIDIA will introduce their own fully custom CPU based on the ARM 64-bit architecture.
 
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ams23

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Well, "affordable" being another keyword there. I don't expect it to trump newer Exynos or Snapdragons. I've read a rumor blog that Google ditching Tegra 3 in favor of Snapdragon Pro for the Nexus 7 successor.

I believe that it would be logical for Google to release a Nexus 7.7 variant (with a higher resolution display and higher performance CPU/GPU) while still keeping the Nexus 7 in the lineup as a lower cost variant. So the Snapdragon S4 Pro would actually be a good choice for the SoC. What would not be logical is to use Tegra 4 in a Nexus 7.7 variant. If Google were to do that, then this hypothetical Nexus 7.7 would have higher CPU and GPU performance than their own Nexus 10! It would make much more sense to use Tegra 4 in a higher performance Nexus 10 variant.
 

lothar

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Not to go all BenSkywalker on you, but on what planet are SoCs that release 6 months later *not* expected to beat 6-month-old designs? Nvidia has been first to market in every cycle except this one (in which T3 continues to have life with the N7 and Ouya).

Not to mention that Qualcomm has been behind on GPU *every single generation*.
Heh...I was waiting for him to show up.

The problem with nVidia regarding smartphones is this: They are always the one to show up just to say first! The real product shows up in phones 3-4 months after the performance leak or a review on a tablet, then they get beaten by Qualcomm and Samsung a month or two after they start shipping their products.

Tegra 2: Demoed and reviewed in December on a Viewsonic tablet(Smartphone Tegra2 didn't ship until March with the Motorola Atrix). Two months later, it was crushed by Exynos in May on the Galaxy S II.

Tegra 3: Demoed and reviewed in December on an ASUS Transformer Prime tablet(Smartphone Tegra3 didn't ship until March with the International HTC OneX). A month later, it was beaten by both Dual core Krait on HTC/Samsung USA phones and Quad core Exynos on the International Galaxy S III that shipped in April.

Tegra 4: January leak...Shipping smartphone Tegra4 products are yet to be seen. Qualcomm and Samsung will be knocking on the door in March and April when their phones get launched(a real hardware launch with a shipping product, not a paper launch).

What good is it to say "first" for the sake of saying it but not actually shipping the chips in phones until 4 months later when they will be beaten in a month?
nVidia desperately needs to adjust their market timing on smartphones. For tablets, nVidia's market timing is excellent. No one can argue against that.