It’s no secret that NVIDIA is working on quad-core CPUs for mobile devices, but over the weekend a leaked slide confirmed that Tegra 3 might feature four Cortex-A9 cores running at speeds up to 1.5 GHz. Competitors have announced similar processors, like Freescale’s quad-core 1.2 GHz i.MX 6Quad and TI’s dual-core 1.5 GHz OMAP4440, but NVIDIA is the first that I know of to talk about a quad-core system-on-chip (SoC) with clock speeds at 1.5 GHz.
NVIDIA has never revealed their Tegra roadmap so there is no telling how old this leaked document is, but it suggest that Tegra 2 will get a refresh in spring 2011 called Tegra 2 3D and then Tegra 3 should arrive by fall 2011.
Just like Tegra 2 (AP20, T20), the new Tegras will be available for smartphones (AP25, AP30) and tablets (T25, T30).
The Tegra 2 3D refresh is an interesting chip and is said to go into production in the first quarter of this year. It looks to be similar to Tegra 2, but it boast support for 3D displays and a speed bump of dual 1.2 GHz cores. The leaked document shows that Tegra 2 3D can process 5520 million instructions per second (MIPS), which is a 20 percent improvement over Tegra 2.
Things get even more exciting with the Tegra 3 details. It will feature quad 1.5 GHz cores, 3x faster graphics, ultra low power CPU mode, support for Blu-ray video, and display resolutions up to 1920×1200. The leaked slide says Tegra 3 can process about 13800 MIPS, which is 3x more than Tegra 2. Tegra 3 was supposed to sample in Q4 2010, so we should see it inside devices around this time next year.
We already knew that NVIDIA would deliver a new Tegra every year, but if this leaked roadmap is accurate we could see a new chip every six months. It looks like NVIDIA plans to release a completely new architecture each fall and then follow it up with a refresh part in the spring.
Hopefully this roadmap holds up. If NVIDIA can maintain its velocity, I imagine it will force Qualcomm, Samsung, and Texas Instruments to speed up their release cycles.