Feature Article

February 20, 2013

Nvidia Introduces Tegra 4i SoC with Software-Defined Radio

Graphics card and mobile chip manufacturer Nvidia recently introduced its latest system on chip (SoC) mobile processor, the Tegra 4i. Previously known by its codename, Grey, this is the company's first processor to include a software-defined radio in the same package as the main SoC.

Aside from the software-defined radio from Icera, the Tegra 4i sports four ARM Cortex A9 revision cores clocked at 2.3 GHz while a fifth "battery saver" core is also included as in previous Tegra models going back to the Tegra 3. Curiously, though, the Tegra 4i isn't based on the latest Cortex A15 cores like the Tegra 4 design, leveraging the Cortex A9 core used in the Tegra 3.

However, Nvidia has introduced significant modifications, making the Cortex A9 used in the Tegra 4i a new revision of the core.

The Tegra 4i's graphics, on the other hand, are taken directly from the Tegra 4, although the graphics core is cut down to 60. As such, this new processor will be more suitable for upper mid-range offerings, while the Tegra 4 will appear in top-end devices.

Still, though, the new chip's software defined radio allows the Tegra 4i to stand apart as a single chip solution, eliminating the need for a separate data radio chip which should result in improved battery life. The Icera I500 software defined radio supports speeds up to 100 Mbps over LTE currently, but a firmware update could raise this to 150 Mbps in the future.

Consumers won't see any devices packing the Tegra 4i until the fourth quarter of this, according to Nvidia.

The inclusion of a chip with a software defined radio in its SoC lineup is a crucial step forward for Nvidia in the mobile space, similar to the new camera technologies introduced in Tegra 4 chips.

So far, the company has experience success powering Android devices and Windows RT tablets.

Edited by Braden Becker

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