Nvidia whitepapers shed light on Tegra 4, Tegra 4i


— 2:22 PM on February 26, 2013

The Mobile World Congress is still raging on in Barcelona, and the flood of related announcements isn't showing any signs of receding. Today, we're knee-deep in fresh documents from Nvidia: technical white papers that outline the Tegra 4 and Tegra 4i processors (and the accompanying i500 modem) in detail for the first time.

I'm slaving away on a review right now, so I haven't had time to parse through the 60 or so pages of charts, architectural exposés, and miscellaneous boasting about the new silicon. (You can peruse the whitepapers yourself here.) However, I did find the time to skim through the GPU architecture paper—largely out of personal curiosity, since Nvidia was slightly vague about the Tegra 4's graphics capabilities at CES.

Anyhow, I was in luck. The whitepaper includes some handy charts that compare the Tegra 4's graphics capabilities to those of the Tegra 3. Like this one:

And also this one, which applies to the cut-down Tegra 4i:

For those who haven't been keeping up, the Tegra 4i is a smaller, cut-down version of the Tegra 4 that trades the ARM Cortex-A15 cores for Cortex-A9 ones, cuts the graphics ALU count from 72 to 60, and adds an on-die LTE modem. I expect the full-blooded Tegra 4 will power tablets and convertibles, while the Tegra 4i will show up in phones and other pocket-sized handhelds.

The GPU whitepaper also provides an interesting comparison of the Tegra 4's architectural efficiency compared to several other mobile chips, including the Snapdragon MPQ8064, the Exynos 5250, and Apple's A5X and A6X:

Those numbers are certainly flattering. I think it's fair to say the next wave of Android and Windows RT tablets will have some serious gaming chops. For what it's worth, Nvidia says the Tegra 4 pulls off three to four times the "delivered game performance" of the Tegra 3—and the difference is purportedly even starker in some cases.

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