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First Nvidia Tegra 4i Smartphone Glimpsed

By - Source: NextPowerUp | B 12 comments

Nvidia showed its Tegra 4i prototype -- the mid-range SoC for mid-range phones at mid-range pricing.

Back in February, Nvidia announced what was to be their next generation in the Tegra Mobile SoC lineup: the Tegra 4i. As we have not seen any devices equipped with the chip thus far, Nvidia decided to show off a prototype Tegra 4i smartphone in June. Since its reveal, we now have more details on the SoC and prototype phone.

The phone chosen to show off the chip has mid-range features: a 4.8-inch 720p screen, along with 1 GB of RAM, a 13 Mpx rear camera, internal storage of 8 GB, 16 GB, or 32 GB, and with a 7.8 mm thinness, has an appropriate expected price range of between $300 and $400. OEM versions of the device is expected around Q1 of 2014.

Image source: NextPowerUpImage source: NextPowerUp

With the standard specs out of the way, we can focus on the actual chip that the phone highlights. The Tegra 4i is a 28 nm chip that runs on the fourth revision of ARM's Cortex A9 (instead of the Tegra 4's A15), which provides a 15 to 30 percent CPU speed increase over the previous versions, according to Nvidia. The Cortex A9 is a quad-core CPU clocked at 2.3 GHz, while the 60-core graphics unit comes from the Geforce ULP. The chip can utilize LPDDR2 RAM, and has integrated 4G LTE radios, allowing devices equipped with it (including the above prototype) to have 4G LTE support standard on the SoC. 

Read more about Tegra 4i here.

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  • 0 Hide
    timaishu , June 18, 2013 7:14 AM
    lol'd at "brand"
  • 0 Hide
    southernshark , June 18, 2013 7:33 AM
    What is this some sort of garage built phone?
  • 0 Hide
    teh_chem , June 18, 2013 9:09 AM
    It's funny; all of this talk about Tegra4's vast improvements in CPU performance, and the sad fact of the matter is that most devices that reach our phones are more likely to be 4i rather than 4. Sadder fact of the matter is that 4i is CPU-unimpressive. The snapdragon processors already used in so many devices are much faster than Tegra3/4i.
  • Display all 12 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    scythe944 , June 18, 2013 10:02 AM
    Quote:
    What is this some sort of garage built phone?


    Yes, I'm sure nvidia built the phone in their "garage". :lol: 

    No, it's a prototype phone, built by nvidia so they's have something to put their chip in to test...
  • 0 Hide
    wuzelwazel , June 18, 2013 10:28 AM
    Quote:
    ...Sadder fact of the matter is that 4i is CPU-unimpressive. The snapdragon processors already used in so many devices are much faster than Tegra3/4i.


    Source? I was hard pressed to find any Snapdragon 600 benchmarks, the only one I could was the LG Optimus G Pro in AnTuTu. All around Snapdragon 600 is definitely an improvement over Tegra 3. It scored well above in memory and graphics performance. However, it also scored much lower in CPU Integer performance and barely higher (2.5%) in Floating Point. That's compared to Tegra 3.

    The biggest problem I have with your conclusion though is that the Tegra 4i doesn't have much in common with Tegra 3 aside from the NVIDIA logo. Tegra 3 maxed out at 1.7GHz while Tegra 4i runs up to 2.3GHz, that's a 35% clock increase. It's unclear from the article whether the 15-30% "CPU speed increase" is clock for clock, but my guess is that it is. So tack another 15-30% increase onto the 35% increase and you're looking at a 55%-75% CPU theoretical performance increase when comparing Tegra 4i @ 2.3GHz to Tegra 3 @ 1.7GHz.

    Needless to say that's much better *potential* performance than the Snapdragon 600. Obviously there's more to an SOC than the CPU so we'll have to wait and see which outperforms, but I think it's a huge mistake to write off the Tegra 4i so quickly.
  • 0 Hide
    Potato13 , June 18, 2013 12:43 PM
    @teh_chem Tegra 4 is strictly for tablets. The 4i is the smaller, less heat-generating version with slightly lower specs.
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    teh_chem , June 18, 2013 1:34 PM
    Quote:
    Source? I was hard pressed to find any Snapdragon 600 benchmarks, the only one I could was the LG Optimus G Pro in AnTuTu. All around Snapdragon 600 is definitely an improvement over Tegra 3. It scored well above in memory and graphics performance. However, it also scored much lower in CPU Integer performance and barely higher (2.5%) in Floating Point. That's compared to Tegra 3.

    Not referencing the Snapdragon x00 series--I was thinking of the Krait S4 Pro (and similar) which have been out in devices for a long time already. The S4-based platform already beat ARM Cortex-A9 processors, which the 4i is based on. Also, AnTuTu is a dreadful cross-system benchmarking tool because it factors in so many other factors--like disk I/O performance, which has little to do with the CPU/GPU capabilities

    Quote:
    The biggest problem I have with your conclusion though is that the Tegra 4i doesn't have much in common with Tegra 3 aside from the NVIDIA logo.

    I would argue the opposite; that the 4i has more in common with the T3. See below...

    Quote:
    Tegra 3 maxed out at 1.7GHz while Tegra 4i runs up to 2.3GHz, that's a 35% clock increase. It's unclear from the article whether the 15-30% "CPU speed increase" is clock for clock, but my guess is that it is. So tack another 15-30% increase onto the 35% increase and you're looking at a 55%-75% CPU theoretical performance increase when comparing Tegra 4i @ 2.3GHz to Tegra 3 @ 1.7GHz.

    The 4i and the T3 are both ARM Cortex-A9. The only gains in processing power between the two are clock increases (the IPC are the same, so they have the same clock-for-clock performance). Biggest difference between T4i and T3 is, I would argue, the ability of all 4 cores in the 4i to run at max clock speed (vs. only one out of the 4 cores in the T3 capable of running at max clock, whilst the other three are slightly lower).

    Quote:
    Needless to say that's much better *potential* performance than the Snapdragon 600. Obviously there's more to an SOC than the CPU so we'll have to wait and see which outperforms, but I think it's a huge mistake to write off the Tegra 4i so quickly.

    4i will be a mid-range platform. The biggest problem I have--and you're right, it's best to wait and see--is because of what ISN'T being said about it. Despite already being integrated into many devices, there have been zero 4i benchmarks released, whereas Nvidia couldn't wait to brag about how fast the Tegra4 (not 4i) was.

    The summary is this: "Here is this awesome Tegra4 processor, and here is how it's better than T3, and this is how powerful it is. See? We put it in our SHIELD platform. Oh, and here's this other thing we're calling the Tegra4i that you're actually probably going to be getting in your phones; it has integrated LTE, it uses a different and older ARM architecture, but don't worry about its benchmarks, just trust us when we say it's awesome too..."
  • 0 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , June 18, 2013 2:24 PM
    Quote:
    The 4i and the T3 are both ARM Cortex-A9. The only gains in processing power between the two are clock increases (the IPC are the same, so they have the same clock-for-clock performance). Biggest difference between T4i and T3 is, I would argue, the ability of all 4 cores in the 4i to run at max clock speed (vs. only one out of the 4 cores in the T3 capable of running at max clock, whilst the other three are slightly lower).

    That's not quite true. Tegra 4i uses a newer version of the Cortex A9, revision R4. There are IPC and efficiency improvements over the A9's in Tegra 3, in addition to the process shrink to 28nm. The combination of faster cache, improved prefetching engine, larger buffers, and dual channel memory controller should amount to ~20% increase in performance per clock. Add the higher clocks on top of that and we're talking a pretty significant improvement in CPU performance in a smaller, lower power package.
  • 0 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , June 18, 2013 2:35 PM
    Quote:
    Tegra 4 is strictly for tablets.

    That's not true. Although it makes more sense to put it in a tablet due to its higher TDP, larger die size, and off package Icera i500 modem, Tegra 4 can still hit low enough TDP's to fit into high end smartphone form factors. I think its been demonstrated in a 5" prototype.
  • 0 Hide
    Michael Frost , June 18, 2013 3:17 PM
    Quote:
    It's funny; all of this talk about Tegra4's vast improvements in CPU performance, and the sad fact of the matter is that most devices that reach our phones are more likely to be 4i rather than 4. Sadder fact of the matter is that 4i is CPU-unimpressive. The snapdragon processors already used in so many devices are much faster than Tegra3/4i.


    All considered the Corex A9R4 is more Cortex A15 than Coretex A9. A9R4 maintains all the memory, cache, fetch, OoOE improvements that the A15 gains but does away with the power hungry three-issue engine in favor of the far leaner dual-issue design otherwise common in mobile. This actually makes the A9R4 quite similar at a higher level to the Krait200 and Krait300 cores found in the S4 Pro and S600. I think we can expect performance to be in the same ballpark as the Snapdragon 600, likely higher Int performance and lower FP.
  • 0 Hide
    renz496 , June 18, 2013 4:04 PM
    It seems many were forgetting that tegra 4i will be based on Cortex A9 revision 4 which is the latest revision for A9. Nvidia made some improvement to the architecture resulting much better IPC than previous A9 cores. On top of that thanks to 28nm process node now the clock can go up to 2.3ghz. If you're wondering how well ARM just announced A12 cores perform maybe you can get the glimpse of it from A9R4. Of course A12 can end up much better though but right now if you want a chip that much powerful than A9 but much less power hungry than A15 then A9R4 might be the right chip.

    About T4i performance nvidia was clear from the very beginning that the chip will be a mid range one. The main focus of T4i most likely to promote their soft based modem. T4 phone still can happen though it might have to clock much lower to keep the power consumption down.
  • 0 Hide
    nomiahmed , June 19, 2013 1:21 AM
    judging by the font style of the "brand", it's probably an HTC phone .. :p