NVIDIA Announces 'Phoenix' Reference Smartphone Board with LTE Tegra 4i Chip


Editor in Chief
Staff member
Premium Member
Dec 30, 2010
Reaction score
Austin, TX

NVIDIA had an intriguing announcement this morning. They shared both a new chip and a new reference mobile phone motherboard design. The new chip is a Tegra device but with an LTE modem integrated. It's called the Tegra 4i and is positioned to be a "Snapdragon killer." While that remains to be seen, the architecture advancements are impressive when you take note that this was co-developed with ARM to make it both power efficient and fast. When you dig a little deeper you see that this chip is a super-enhanced version of the Tegra 3 but with an LTE modem integrated. This is still a pretty impressive achievement, and we look forward to seeing what it can do. As you can see above in the pic, NVIDIA and ARM claim the chip is faster than the Qualcomm Snapdragon Krait S800 by a large margin.

The other product they are launching is called "Phoenix" which is a reference motherboard design for mobile smartphones. It's basically a "kit" phone which includes a full mobile motherboard with integrated Tegra 4i that OEMs can license to build a complete phone out of the box. This will likely be seen in a slew of mid-range and budget-friendly devices in the future. Here's the full press release,

NVIDIA Introduces Its First Integrated Tegra LTE Processor

Tegra 4i Delivers Highest Performance of Any Single-Chip Smartphone Processor

SANTA CLARA, Calif.—February 19, 2013— NVIDIA today introduced its first fully integrated 4G LTE mobile processor, the NVIDIA® Tegra® 4i, which is significantly faster yet half the size of its nearest competitor.

Previously codenamed “Project Grey,” the Tegra 4i processor features 60 custom NVIDIA GPU cores; a quad-core CPU based on ARM’s newest and most efficient core— the R4 Cortex-A9 CPU— plus a fifth battery saver core; and a version of the NVIDIA i500 LTE modem optimized for integration. The result: an extremely power efficient, compact, high- performance mobile processor that enables smartphone performance and capability previously available only in expensive super phones.

“NVIDIA is delivering for the first time a single, integrated processor that powers all the major functions of a smartphone,” said Phil Carmack, senior vice president of the Mobile business at NVIDIA. “Tegra 4i phones will provide amazing computing power, world-class phone capabilities, and exceptionally long battery life.”

Tegra 4i’s new 2.3 GHz CPU was jointly designed by NVIDIA and ARM, and is the most efficient, highest performance CPU core on the market.

“Tegra 4i is the very latest SoC solution based on the ARM Cortex-A9 processor and demonstrates the ability of ARM and our partners to continue to push the performance of technology and create exciting user experiences,” says Tom Cronk, executive vice president and general manager, processor division, ARM. “ARM and NVIDIA worked closely to further optimize the Cortex-A9 processor to drive performance and efficiency in areas such as streaming and responsiveness. This is an example of the collaboration and innovation that enables ARM technology-based solutions to be market drivers through multiple generations of SoC solutions.”

Utilizing the same architecture as Tegra 4’s GPU, Tegra 4i features five times the number of GPU cores of Tegra 3 for high-quality, console-quality gaming experiences and full 1080p HD displays. It also integrates an optimized version of the NVIDIA i500 software-defined radio modem which provides LTE capabilities, and makes networking upgradability and scalability fast and easy.

''NVIDIA’s Tegra 4i appears to outperform the leading integrated LTE chip significantly, and also benefits from an integrated ‘soft-modem’ that can be re-programmed over-the-air to support new frequencies and air interfaces – something other modem vendors can only dream of,” said Stuart Robinson, director, Handset Component Technologies Program at Strategy Analytics.”

Tegra 4i mobile processor’s camera capabilities include the NVIDIA Chimera™ Computational Photography Architecture recently announced in Tegra 4. This delivers many advanced features, including the world’s first always-on high dynamic range (HDR) capabilities, first tap to track functionality and first panoramic photos with HDR.

NVIDIA also introduced its reference smartphone platform code-named “Phoenix” for the Tegra 4i processor to demonstrate its unique mobile technologies. Phoenix is a blueprint that phone makers can reference in designing and building future Tegra 4i smartphones to help get them to market quicker.

The Tegra 4i mobile processor will be demonstrated in the NVIDIA booth in Hall 7, Stand #C110, at the 2013 Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 25-28.

As a recap, the Tegra 4 family includes:


Useful Links
Tegra 4 Super Processors, Smartphones, Tablets | NVIDIA
TegraZone - Download The Best Android Games For Your Tegra Device

NVIDIA, Tegra, LTE, smartphone, mobile, tablet, quad core, gaming, GPU, CPU, GeForce, Chimera, ARM, HDR, TegraZone

NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) awakened the world to computer graphics when it invented the GPU in 1999. Today, its processors power a broad range of products from smartphones to supercomputers. NVIDIA’s mobile processors are used in cell phones, tablets and auto infotainment systems. PC gamers rely on GPUs to enjoy spectacularly immersive worlds. Professionals use them to create 3D graphics and visual effects in movies and to design everything from golf clubs to jumbo jets. And researchers utilize GPUs to advance the frontiers of science with high performance computing. The company has more than 5,000 patents issued, allowed or filed, including ones covering ideas essential to modern computing. For more information, see World Leader in Visual Computing Technologies | NVIDIA.
My understanding is the Snapdragon Quad-core processors (Pro, 600, 800) run on any number of cores as needed - 1, 2, 3, or 4. I'll take that over one or four any day. Also, I saw a comparison of architectures and ARM Cortex A15 used a lot of power compared to other designs like A9 and Krait. A15 may be the fastest, I'm not sure.

I'd like to see a comparison of showing power used and time required for a given task across A9, A15, and Krait. I have no doubt the new Tegra 4 processors are fast but for a phone we're almost to the point where power consumption is more important than speed (everything from a dual-core Snapdragon S4 plus and faster seems fast enough for what most people do).