Nov 09 AT 12:48 AM Taylor Wimberly 46 Comments

3 reasons to get a Tegra 3 Android device this year

Tegra 3

Are you ready for the upcoming wave of next-generation Android devices? After many months of waiting, NVIDIA has officially announced their Tegra 3 processor, previously known as Project Kal-El. We first learned of this quad-core beast back in February and were expecting devices by summer, but unknown delays pushed that back to the end of this year. Now we are just weeks away from getting our hands on the first quad-core tablet. Was it worth the wait? Read on for the top 3 reasons to get a Tegra 3 device.

1. Games

NVIDIA practically invented the GPU so the first thing we always think about with any Tegra processor is games. The Tegra 2 processor already delivered the best graphics we have ever seen on any Android device and Tegra 3 is prepared to take that to the next level.

As we have previously noted, Tegra 3 features a 12-core GeForce GPU that promises to deliver 3x the graphics performance of Tegra 2. NVIDIA previously showed off the power of the new GPU with their Glowball demo and today they have released a follow-up called Glowball 2 (see video above).

All that graphics power is cool to show off in demos and benchmarks, but NVIDIA has invested heavily in bringing premium games to Android with their Tegra Zone program. Right now there are over 15+ Tegra 3 games under development and 40+ Tegra Zone games will be available by end of 2011. I only count 23 games available in Tegra Zone right now, so we should see another 20 new games by Christmas.

In addition to the raw power of the GPU and wide developer support, Tegra 3 will also include several other features specifically for gamers.

  • Broad game controller support: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Logitech, and more
  • Experience 3D games: Leverages NVIDIA’s award-winning 3D Vision technology. Works with 3D monitors or 3D TVs (via HDMI v1.4)
  • 10 foot UI control: Connect to the big screen for true console experience. Navigate standard Android menus
We will dive into some of the upcoming games with a future post, so head over to NVIDIA’s site and read up on 3D Vision in the mean time.

2. Performance

The other key area where we expect Tegra 3 to shine is performance. With double the cores, higher clock speeds, and faster memory, Tegra 3 will deliver up to 5x performance boost over Tegra 2. NVIDIA actually calls the Tegra 3 a “PC-class CPU” and says it’s faster than an Intel Core 2 Duo T7200.

Tegra 3 will deliver the fastest web experience, fastest applications, and fastest multi-tasking of any mobile processor. Accelerated Adobe Flash Player 11, HTML5 and WebGL browsing, and an optimized Javascript engine work together to deliver an experience that is up to 4x faster than the competition.

Two specific applications that will benefit the most from the quad-core CPU are photo stitching and video transcoding. We haven’t seen many advanced apps for photo and video editing yet, but Photoshop Touch is on the way along with multiple other new apps from Adobe.

3. Battery life

Finally, the third area to focus on with Tegra 3 is battery life. NVIDIA implemented a stealth 5th-core and their patent-pending Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing (vSMP) technology to deliver up to 61 percent lower power consumption in certain use cases. This translates into an industry-leading 12 hours of battery life for HD video playback.

The upcoming ASUS Transformer Prime will deliver up to 12 hours of battery life, compared with 9.5 hours on the original. It will be interesting to see what kind of battery life the Tegra 3 smartphones get, but we should expect similar results.


It’s been a long time coming, but overall we are still extremely impressed with Tegra 3. NVIDIA could have moved a ton of units if they got this out back in August, but I expect it will still have a nice run. There are always faster mobile processors just around the corner, but Tegra 3 will shine as a true mobile gaming console.

Tegra 3 overview.

I’m definitely going to be picking up the Transformer Prime for Christmas and I can’t wait to see the first Tegra 3 phones early next year. We have already seen NVIDIA gain some new customers with Tegra 3 like HTC, and I expect we will find this quad-core CPU in all kinds of different devices.

So now we return to the waiting game and see what other devices get announced. I have a feeling CES 2012 will be NVIDIA’s biggest show yet and I’m excited to see what kinds of products their customers dreamed up.

How do you think Tegra 3 will perform in the market?

For additional coverage, check out: Android Police, Android Central, Android Community, AnandTech, Droid-LifeEngadgetPhandroidThe Verge, and Wired.

Show Press Release

SANTA CLARA, Calif.–Nov. 8, 2011– NVIDIA today ushered in the era of quad-core mobile computing with the introduction of the NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, bringing PC-class performance levels, better battery life and improved mobile experiences to tablets and phones. The world’s first quad-core tablet with the Tegra 3 processor is the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime.

Known previously by the codename “Project Kal-El,” the Tegra 3 processor provides up to 3x the graphics performance of Tegra 2, and up to 61 percent lower power consumption. This translates into an industry-leading 12 hours of battery life for HD video playback.
The Tegra 3 processor implements a new, patent-pending technology known as Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing (vSMP). vSMP includes a fifth CPU “companion”, specifically designed for work requiring little power. The four main cores are specifically designed for work requiring high performance, and generally consume less power than dual-core processors.

During tasks that require less power consumption — like listening to music, playing back video or updating background data — the Tegra 3 processor completely shuts down its four performance-tuned cores and, instead, uses its companion core. For high-performance tasks — like web browsing, multitasking and gaming — the Tegra 3 processor disables the companion.

“NVIDIA’s fifth core is ingenious,” said Nathan Brookwood, Research Fellow at Insight 64. “Tegra 3’s vSMP technology extends the battery life of next-generation mobile devices by using less power when they’re handling undemanding tasks and then ratcheting up performance when it’s really needed.”

The Tegra 3 quad-core CPUs are complemented with a new 12-core NVIDIA GeForce® GPU, which delivers more realism with dynamic lighting, physical effects and high resolution environments, plus support for 3D stereo, giving developers the means to bring the next generation of mobile games to life.

For the millions who play games on mobile devices, the Tegra 3 processor provides an experience comparable to that of a game console. It offers full game-controller support, enabling consumers to play games on their tablet or super phone, or connect to big screen HDTVs for a truly immersive experience. It also leverages NVIDIA’s award-winning 3D Vision technology and automatically converts OpenGL applications to stereo 3D, so consumers can experience 3D on a big screen 3D TV (via HDMIâ„¢ 1.4 technology).

The Tegra 3 processor provides the industry’s….

  • Fastest web experience – with accelerated Adobe Flash Player 11, HTML5 and WebGL browsing, and an optimized Javascript engine
  • Fastest applications – with blazing performance for multimedia apps, such as photo and video editing
  • Fastest multitasking — for switching between common uses, such as playing music and games, and background tasks
  • Fastest, highest-quality gaming — including new Tegra 3 processor-optimized NVIDIA Tegra Zone app games such as Shadowgun, Riptide GP, Sprinkle, Big Top THD, Bladeslinger, DaVinci THD and Chidori.

Highlights / Key Facts:
The Tegra 3 processor redefines power consumption and mobile-computing performance with:

  • The world’s first quad-core ARM Cortex A9 CPU
  • New patent-pending vSMP technology, including a fifth CPU core that runs at a lower frequency and operates at exceptionally low power
  • 12-core GeForce GPU, with 3x the graphics performance of the Tegra 2 processor, including support for stereoscopic 3D
  • New video engines with support for 1080p high profile video at 40 Mbps
  • Up to 3x higher memory bandwidth
  • Up to 2x faster Image Signal Processor
  • 40 games are expected to be available by the end of 2011, and over 15 Tegra 3 games are under development for Tegra Zone, NVIDIA’s free Android Market app that showcases the best games optimized for the Tegra processor.
  • The Tegra 3 processor is in production. Developers can order the Tegra 3 Developer Kit to create applications for devices with Tegra such as tablets and super phones, at


  • “The Eee Pad Transformer Prime is a category-defining product. Powered by Tegra 3, it launches us into a new era of mobile computing, in which quad-core performance and super energy-efficiency provide capabilities never available before. With Transformer Prime, ASUS has once again led the industry into the next generation.” - Jen-Hsun Huang, President and Chief Executive Officer, NVIDIA
  • “Tegra 3 is a marvel. Its quad-core CPU, 12-core GeForce GPU and vSMP technology are revolutionary. We worked closely with NVIDIA to build the ultimate tablet — the Eee Pad Transformer Prime — that delivers a magical, uncompromised experience to consumers.” - Jerry Shen, CEO at ASUS

Source: NVIDIA

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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