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Nvidia announces its Tegra 4i system on chip

Sports the firm's first software defined radio
Tue Feb 19 2013, 14:00

CHIP DESIGNER Nvidia has announced its Tegra 4i system on chip (SoC) processor sporting a software defined radio from British firm Icera.

Nvidia's Tegra 4i chip, better known by its codename Grey, is the firm's first processor chip that includes a software defined radio in the same package as the main system-on-chip (SoC). The firm's Tegra 4i sports four ARM Cortex A9 revision 4 cores clocked at 2.3GHz along with a slower clocked, so-called 'battery saver' core that was first featured in the Tegra 3.

tegra-4i-die

Nvidia launched its Tegra 4 at CES last month and while that uses ARM's latest Cortex A15 cores the firm decided to stick with the familiar Cortex A9 core used in Tegra 3 for the Tegra 4i, but claimed to have made significant changes that has resulted in a new revision of the core. Nvidia has taken the GPU from the Tegra 4 Wayne chip, but it cut the graphics core count down to 60.

Nvidia's most important feature in the Tegra 4i is its inclusion of a software defined radio, meaning that it will promote the Tegra 4i to device makers as a 'single-chip solution', without the need for a second chip that consumes more power and takes up circuit board space. The firm said the technology was made possible through its purchase of British chip design outfit Icera last year.

Icera's I500 software defined modem supports 100Mbit/s LTE connectivity but can have its firmware updated to support 150Mbit/s in the future. Nvidia claims that the chip be used in devices running Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows RT mobile operating systems.

Nvidia has also announced the Phoenix reference device for smartphone makers that shows off what can be achieved with the Tegra 4i. While the firm said that the device itself won't be on sale to consumers, it did provide specifications, including the facts that it will have a 5in 1080p resolution display and will be 8mm thick.

According to Nvidia the 28nm Tegra 4i will be aimed at mainstream smartphones, whereas the Tegra 4 will be pitched at tablets and high-end smartphones. The firm said it expects to see a few Tegra 4i devices available in the fourth quarter of 2013, with more launched in the first quarter of 2014.

Intel talked up its software defined radio research two years ago at Mobile World Congress, and it is generally seen as a must-have for chip vendors that want to be competitive in the lucrative smartphone market. While Intel had working silicon last September at IDF, Nvidia has stolen a march on its old rival with the Tegra 4i. µ

 

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