NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 has been one of the fastest mobile processors on the market since it debuted last year, but it is now seeing increased competition form Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 and Samsung’s upcoming Exynos 4412. We already know that NVIDIA is working on their next generation of chips codenamed Wayne (Tegra 4), but those are not expected to appear in devices until the tail end of 2012 or early 2013.
Right now NVIDIA still wins 100% of the “marketing benchmarks” with their quad-core processor, but how will they continue to remain competitive and pick up design wins for the remainder of the year?
Last week at a HTC event in Seattle, Michael Rayfield, GM of NVIDIA’s mobile business unit, shared some new details on the Tegra roadmap.
Mr. Rayfield confirmed previous leaks that NVIDIA was preparing a Tegra 3+ part for the middle of 2012. He didn’t go into many details on how the chip would differ from Tegra 3, but he did say it would be a significant bump.
One thing that was talked about was support for LTE networks. Many sites have incorrectly reported that Tegra 3 was not “LTE ready”, but it’s actually the modem suppliers that are behind. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 LTE used the previous generation Tegra 2 and ZTE already announced a Tegra 3 phone with LTE support, so we know Tegra works with LTE networks
The problem is that LTE networks are only widely popular in the United States, so most modem partners have not brought their LTE solutions to the market yet. Qualcomm is currently the leader in LTE modems, but they have no interest in working with their competitor NVIDIA and supplying them modems for Tegra devices.
Thankfully, things will change in the second half of the year. NVIDIA says that GCT Semiconductor, Renesas Mobile, and ST-Ericsson are all working on LTE modems that will work with Tegra 3 chips.
Thanks to a document leaked by VR-Zone, we are now learning additional details about Tegra 3+, which has the model number AP37. The new chip should boast CPU speeds up to 1.7 GHz, feature 25% faster graphics, and have support for 1920×1200 display. Keep in mind this is a smartphone chip, so it makes those rumors of 1080p smartphone displays in 2012 sound more believable.
We don’t know exactly when Tegra 3+ smartphones will appear in market or which handset maker will produce them, but we could possibly hear announcements as soon as next month at CTIA. If that show comes and goes with no news, we could hear more details at NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference on May 17th.