Nvidia Boosts Smartphone Play With Tegra 4i With Built-In LTE

The chip maker introduced the Tegra 4i, the company's first fully integrated 4G LTE mobile processor for smartphones. The Tegra 4i comes on the heels of Nvidia's Tegra 4, the fourth-generation version of its mobile system-on-a-chip (SoC), which is scheduled to launch this summer.

When Nvidia announced the Tegra 4 platform last month at CES 2013, the company said the chip could come with optional 4G LTE voice and data support via an additional Nvidia i500 chipset.

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But with the Tegra 4i, Nvidia is going a step further by integrating the i500 LTE chip directly onto the Tegra's die, giving the 4i built-in 4G LTE capabilities.

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The 4i, formerly codenamed "Project Grey," is quite different from the Tegra 4 in other ways. Instead of the Tegra 4's ARM-based Cortex-A15 processor architecture, the 4i features a revamped quad-core R4 Cortex-A9 chip, jointly designed by Nvidia and ARM, with a fifth battery-saver core.

The Tegra 4i's LTE technology isn't the only plus for the rebuilt Coretex-A9 chip; the 4i also offers a higher clock speed -- 2.3 GHz -- plus features 60 graphics cores with the high dynamic range (HDR) and the HD video capabilities of the Tegra 4 processor. Overall, Nvidia claims the Tegra 4i is significantly faster than competing LTE processors and nearly half the size of the nearest competitor.

"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, in a press statement. "Tegra 4i phones will provide amazing computing power, world-class phone capabilities, and exceptionally long battery life."

Nvidia's new LTE processor also includes the company's "Chimera" Computational Photography Architecture technology that was recently announced for the Tegra 4; the Chimera technology provides always-on HDR for improved color contrast and lighting for smartphone pictures.

No release date or OEM customers were announced for the Tegra 4i.