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Nvidia unveils Tegra 4 'Wayne' SoC

Nvidia unveils Tegra 4 'Wayne' SoC

Nvidia's Tegra 4 SoC design packs four high-performance Cortex-A15 cores, a fifth low-power companion core and 72 GeForce GPU cores into smartphones and tablets.

Nvidia has officially unveiled its fourth-generation Tegra ARM system-on-chip processor at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, surprising no-one with a powerful quad-core Cortex-A15 design.

As expected, Nvidia is focusing heavily on multimedia with its latest Tegra 4 chip, previously dubbed Wayne as part of the company's superhero-themed codename strategy. As a result, the Tegra 4 combines a quad-core Cortex-A15 with a fifth low-performance 'companion core' and a 72-core GeForce GPU graphics chip offering a claimed six-fold performance increase over the Tegra 3 GeForce GPU. Combined with a claimed 2.6x performance boost in CPU-driven tasks thanks to the move from ARM's Cortex-A9 IP to Cortex-A15, Nvidia's talking about a chip with some serious power behind it.

'Tegra 4 provides enormous processing power and efficiency to power smartphones and tablets, gaming devices, auto systems and PCs,' claimed Phil Carmack, senior vice president of Nvidia's Tegra arm, at the CES unveiling. 'Its new capabilities, particularly in the area of computational photography, will help improve a whole range of existing products and lead to the creation of exciting new ones.'

One of those 'exciting new ones' is, of course, the Nvidia Shield, a bizarrely-designed hand-held console which can play Android games as well as tapping into Nvidia's cloud-gaming know-how to stream Steam titles from a desktop PC. With a Tegra 4 under the hood, the Shield hand-held should theoretically wipe the floor with any existing hand-held console on the market.

It's not just about raw power, though: with Tegra 4, Nvidia's getting clever. The chip includes what Nvidia calls a 'computational photography architecture,' designed to provide ultra-fast image processing by offloading tasks onto the image-signal processor, CPU and GPU simultaneously. The most obvious sign of this feature is what Nvidia calls 'always-on HDR,' which allows smartphone and tablet cameras to perform high-dynamic range (HDR) photography at the same speed as standard image snapping - or even while capturing live video.

Performance boosts and new features aside, the Tegra 4 system-on-chip also includes some significant improvements to the power draw: in what Nvidia somewhat vaguely describes as 'common use cases,' Tegra 4 chips should draw around 45 per cent less power than a Tegra 3 - translating into 14 hours of HD video playback on a reference smartphone handset.

What the Tegra 4 SoC is missing, compared with rival devices from the likes of Qualcomm, is a modem. A requirement for smartphones, and increasingly common in tablets, Nvidia has opted not to build the modem into the SoC design but instead to offer it as a separate chipset. Dubbed the Icera i500, Nvidia's modem connects to the Tegra 4 and provides world-wide Long Term Evolution (LTE) connectivity with voice and data support in a package size some 40 per cent smaller than its rivals. As with Tegra 4, Nvidia also claims that it has made significant performance improvements with the Icera i500 offering four times the processing power of its fourth-generation predecessor.

Full specifications of the Tegra 4 SoC, including clock speed and benchmark results, did not form part of Nvidia's presentation.

11 Comments

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Shirty 7th January 2013, 12:17 Quote
I hate it when my existing hardware is forced into second place by progression.

Looks a good chip though!
SchizoFrog 7th January 2013, 13:08 Quote
Can we get some sort of benchmarks and/or a performance chart for the various GPUs now found in Smartphones and Tabs? It's becoming wuite difficult now to actually understand which devices are more powerful and why.
[-Stash-] 7th January 2013, 14:47 Quote
Best easily accessible information out there at the moment is at www.anandtech.com unless anyone has anything else better?

Certainly looks interesting (and the "shield") guess it'll be what, 6 months before we see production hardware with it in?
rollo 7th January 2013, 16:11 Quote
Samsung SG4 will have first version cut down most likely or the battery life will be measured in a few hrs instead of a day lol.

One of there tablets will likely get the first full whack one in.

graphics performance is testable

CPU performance varies widely per platform. Even in the same chip in some cases.

In Gpu performance

PowerVR SGX 543MP3 ( only in 2 products Iphone 5 and Ipad 4)
PowerVR SGX 543MP2 ( only in 2 products again Iphone 4s Ipad 3)
Arm mali 400 ( in some samsung tablets + phones)
Adreno 225 ( in most andriod phones )


is how the 4 graphics gpus rank that are most populer there is others but they are not really been brought by the consumer.
rollo 7th January 2013, 16:19 Quote
Some further reading suggests this chip is more for tablets than phones. Lack of LTE on chip will be a problem in the space that phones already fit into adding an extra chip to get LTE support just seems like a crazy decision to make from nvidia.

Wonder if this has been in development for so long that LTE was not really relivent at the time it was been designed hence the extra chip they have made to add support.

Nvidia may of shot themselves in the foot if samsung can't exploit LTE on chip for tegra4. Have major douts there is space inside the SG3 for another modem chip to fit and the SG4 is ment to be Slimmer.

When you have samsungs level of sales you would of thought Nvidia would of catered more to there biggest customer better than they have than expecting them to find room for another modem chip that may or may not be able to fit into the already cramped space.
azazel1024 7th January 2013, 16:32 Quote
Common use cases...like idling? I am sure in a number of ways it is more power efficient, being able to race to idle faster plus 28nm TSMC process instead of 40nm should help a lot and maybe even a better big.little strategy than on Tegra 2....but unless they pulled some magic, the new Samsung A15 based chips HOG power when running full out.

8W spikes and 4W constant for dual core A15 plus a relatively modern GPU.

I can't imagine quad core A15, plus a beefier GPU on a similar enough process size isn't going to gulp more power than that.

Haswell is looking at 8w TDP tablet chips...and dual core Haswell, unless it LOSES performance moving form Ivy, should be able to hand quad core A15 its lunch (I'd guess at least 2-3x the performance). So Wayne might actually hit higher TDPs than Haswell will for a tablet chip, and probably is going to be rather underpowered, compute wise, in comparison.

Wayne/Tegra 3 might still be the best of the best ARM chip for awhile though (and in some applications, such as light use cases, probably will use less power than Haswell tablet chips).
veato 7th January 2013, 19:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo
Samsung SG4 will have first version cut down most likely or the battery life will be measured in a few hrs instead of a day lol.

One of there tablets will likely get the first full whack one in.

graphics performance is testable

CPU performance varies widely per platform. Even in the same chip in some cases.

In Gpu performance

PowerVR SGX 543MP3 ( only in 2 products Iphone 5 and Ipad 4)
PowerVR SGX 543MP2 ( only in 2 products again Iphone 4s Ipad 3)
Arm mali 400 ( in some samsung tablets + phones)
Adreno 225 ( in most andriod phones )


is how the 4 graphics gpus rank that are most populer there is others but they are not really been brought by the consumer.

The Adreno 320 in the Nexus 4 (according to Anandtech) is under the iPhone5 but ahead of the rest of the Android pack, incl. Tegra 3.
rollo 7th January 2013, 20:36 Quote
With Htcs recent troubles ( results posted look awful) the smartphone battles is well and truly over with 2 winners and everyone else in big trouble selling at cost or loosing half a billion +.

Samsung and apple won everyone else is fighting for scraps.( rim Nokia htc and others)

I do wonder if Samsung will use there own arm6/7 licence to make something better than this. Which would leave nvidia short of customers. It depends on how important LTE on the main chip is to them. They have a huge R&D budget bigger than many tech companies they also already have the manufacturing to do it.

Been rumours for a while that apple refused to compromise design to install the modem LTE chips( that nvidia is trying to sell)that where around when the iphone4s was made.

Just don't think this has been well thought out by nvidia, Samsung is there main taker for the tegra 3 platform (nearly 90mil units in just Samsung galaxy models) surely Samsung will expect LTE on chip not as something else they have to buy however well it may perform.
veato 7th January 2013, 22:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo
With Htcs recent troubles ( results posted look awful) the smartphone battles is well and truly over with 2 winners and everyone else in big trouble selling at cost or loosing half a billion +.

Samsung and apple won everyone else is fighting for scraps.( rim Nokia htc and others)

I'm not a huge fan of Samsung phones. I was put off by an early version of the TouchWiz UI and found HTC much better, both the Sense UI and the solid build of the phones. I'm surprised they don't do better TBH.
rollo 7th January 2013, 23:23 Quote
They dont do well for 4 simple reasons.

They have basically 0 advertising budget, and are trying to compete at the high end of the smartphone market where there is only 2 players acording to the consumers. Of which both spend a $1bil+ dollars a year on marketing + another 2-3 bil on R&D.( No other company has that sort of cash in the smartphone market to chuck at R&D like this)

They are also paying out cash to Apple, Microsoft for every smartphone sold that contains andriod.

They also are spread way too thin on phones got so many different models that make little or no cash.

When the 2 industry leaders are pulling in 50bil profit a year does not leave alot for the rest of the market to grab onto. Theres a 4 way scrap at the bottom HTC RIM Microsoft Nokia. If i was a betting man 2 of the 4 won't exist as smartphone sellers this time next year
BLC 11th January 2013, 11:24 Quote
Sod putting this in a phone or a tablet; I want an SBC based around Tegra 4. Quad-core chip and a GeForce-based GPU capable of full OpenGL? Shut up and take my money.

In my book that's the one major fault with ARM-based SBCs at the moment: the lack of full-fat OpenGL support. Almost everything I've seen, including the Raspberry Pi, uses OpenGL ES; that's pretty limiting when it comes to taking advantage of the GPU power because you really don't find much support for OpenGL ES outside of Android.
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