nVidia’s Tegra 4 chipset first details revealed

A leaked slide gives us more details on nVidia’s upcoming Tegra 4 mobile chipset. Initial impressions confirm what we were already expecting, a quad core ARM Cortex A15 based chipset, with a first additional power saving core. This core may be a low power but high efficiency ARM Cortex A7 core. What is new is the GPU details, and it certainly is worth paying attention to as well.

nVidia Tegra 4

nVidia Tegra 41 nVidias Tegra 4 chipset first details revealed

Let us analyze what we see in the leaked slide.


The Tegra 4 chipset will use four high performance ARM Cortex A15 cores. There will be an additional 5th battery saver core whose core function will be to take over the powerful cores for less demanding tasks. This might help in extending battery life (stand by mode). As a side note, it’s effects were barely visible on devices using the Tegra 3 chipset (which also has a 5th power saving core).

We will be seeing quite a performance improvement over the Tegra 3 chipsets (which are based on the ARM Cortex A9 architecture).

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The GPU will receive a tremendous boost in raw power, from 16 GeForce ULP cores in the Tegra 3 chipset to 72 cores in the Tegra 4 chipset. That is a 6x fold increase in the number of GPU cores. However, do not be easily fooled as the 16 core Tegra 3 GPU wasn’t that powerful to begin with. Additionally, the 72 GPU cores might be based off a new architecture. So all we might end up with could be a 50% increase in performance, and not the 600% (theoretical processing power) that the specifications chart suggests otherwise.

Video Encoding/Decoding

The Tegra 4 chipset will come with dedicated 1440p video encoder and decoder chips.

Display Output

Display output resolution is now supported upto resolutions of 2560*1600.Perhaps this was the reason (the lack of the said decoder) that Google couldn’t use the Tegra 3 chipset for the Nexus 10 as well (thanks to the 2560*1600 resolution display) but had to turn to Samsung’s Exynos instead.

Bottom Line

The chipset will be build on the 28 nm manufacturing process. Expect to see devices based on the Tegra 4 chipset in 1H 2013 itself.


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