On Tuesday Nvidia said that its Tegra 4i quad-core SoC for the mainstream mobile sector has been updated to support LTE-Advanced networks with speeds of up to Cat. 4 LTE, or 150 Mbps.
The company demoed the updated Tegra 4i chip this week at CTIA 2013 in Las Vegas where it reportedly "chewed" through 150 Mbps of LTE data. It was originally introduced in February, and unlike the meatier Tegra 4 which is geared for tablets and high-end smartphones, this mainstream chip comes packed with an integrated Icera i500 Cat. 3 LTE modem (100 Mbps).
The beauty of the update is that new hardware isn't involved. This is not a new chip. Thanks to the Tegra 4i's software defined radio technology (pdf), support for new technologies can be integrated with a mere software update instead. That makes it somewhat more future proof than competing chips, as it's now compatible with a network that doesn't even exist in the real world… yet.
"An additional advantage of the technology is its tiny size. Because the modem is designed with general purpose Deep Execution Processors (DXP), it’s 40 percent the size of a conventional LTE modem," the company said. "The benefit is a fast, high performance, adaptable modem in a tiny footprint."
The chip's modem is also multi-mode, the company said, delivering 4G LTE-Advanced while also supporting LTE Cat 3, 3G, and 2G, meaning it will work even where LTE networks aren’t available. Other LTE-Advanced features will be coming soon in software, the company said.
Because there are no 4G LTE-Advanced networks up and running, Nvidia had an emulated version running at CTIA, and the "Phoenix" Tegra 4i reference smartphone showing speeds of 150 Mbps. Phoenix is a fully-functional smartphone with a 5-inch 1080p display, 13MP camera and integrated 4G LTE.
"We also demonstrated Phoenix running on a live AT&T LTE network – showing video streaming over LTE and voice calls," the company said. "It’s a great proof point of our strong progress in Tegra 4i modem stability and performance."