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Nvidia Announces the Tegra 4 CPU – Makes Me Regret Getting a Nexus 7


I don’t know about anyone else but Nvidia stunned me last night with the launch of their latest system-on-a-chip, the Tegra 4 CPU, at their CES 2013 press event. (I had missed the news about the Tegra 4 leaks.)

Rather than add more features and cores in yet another upgrade to the 14 month old Tegra 3 chip, Nvidia instead showed off a new chip with a faster CPU clock speed (1.9GHz vs 1.6GHz) as well as up to 72 GPU cores, not the 12 single GPU core found in the Tegra 3. The Tegra 4 is also using the new Cortex A-15 in those 4 CPU cores, not the Cortex-A9 found in the Tegra 3, and Nvidia is promising that the Cortex-A15 along will offer up to 2.6 times the ability of their earlier chip.

That’s cool and all, but the important news today is the 72 GPU cores. That’s far more than I could conceive of using myself, but I bt I can sum up Nvidia’s design concept in 3 words:

Retina Displays – plural.

project_shield_v2b[1]While the Tegra 4 is being used to run Project Shield, Nvidia’s new 5″ gaming handheld, I think the extra cores were inspired by a device with a much larger screen.

When "the new iPad" launched last Spring it had a quad-core GPU chip, and it likely needed the extra processing power to support the 4 times as many pixels found in Retina Display. Nvidia is likely planning on offering the Tegra 4 chip to tablet and smartphone makers so they can offer specs which beat the latest generation iPad. Or at least they hope it will be better than the specs which Apple may or may not announce in the next few months.

In any case, the difference between the top and bottom of the market increased significantly today. And while I’m still not sure that anyone will actually find a need for all that extra power (not unless someone releases a Retina Display equipped TV), it’s still good to have the option. It’s also fun just to think about the possibilities.

Update: Vizio had a Tegra 4 tablet on display. It couldn’t actually do much but Gizmodo still believed it was fast.

P.S. I do actually have a Nexus 7 in the mail; it was an impulse purchase in an after Christmas sale. It’s probably going back.

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Sami Nenonen January 7, 2013 um 7:33 am

I doubt you’ll get much in a way of battery life out of it though. Performance isn’t everything there is to mobile parts.

Also, Nexus 7 is great device. Loving mine to bits.

getchaos January 7, 2013 um 8:05 am

Well.. until the first really "cool" devices are published with this thing, there’s no need to brag over the old stuff. The Nexus 7 is still a really decent and neat device.

I had one for a month before Christmas to set up for my fiancée’s brother and if i didn’t have an iPad 3 i would totally get a Nexus now. I was surprised by how good Android devices got since i last used one in the Android 2.3 era (not counting testing Android 3 tablets at the local media store, but it is not the same as having a device at home for several days).

And for just under 200 bucks, it wins in a lot of categories.
…and well… are there any games that actually use the full potential of the Tegra3 except the few demo highlights that come with every product launch?

Nate Hoffelder January 7, 2013 um 8:10 am

I wasn’t ragging on the Nexus 7. It was an impulse purchase and I regret that decision.

And you are probably correct that no more than a handful of games make full use of the Tegra 3 chip.

Mike Cane January 7, 2013 um 9:31 am

Come on. This is how tech works. The second you buy something, the Machjne goes into motion to make you feel like a sucker within 24 hours.

getchaos January 7, 2013 um 8:17 am

I know those impulse purchases, almost bought a PS Vita before Christmas and then cancelled it right after clicking on buy … because…. well, i didn’t really need it 😉

Robert Nagle January 7, 2013 um 10:37 am

Release dates? Price points? Name of tablet manufacturer?

Mike Cane January 7, 2013 um 10:55 am

Vizio is already showing a 10.1″ Android tablet based on Tegra 4. And let’s not forget that Windows RT can use Tegra 4 too.

Nate Hoffelder January 7, 2013 um 10:58 am

Eventually, $200 to $500, and bunches.

Robert Nagle January 7, 2013 um 11:21 am

Thanks. I guess time line is the great important thing. When there are actual dates for devices for sale, that’s when I get psyched.

Although I was one of the people who bought ipad on the first day it came out, now I generally buy a device only when it’s a year old and prices have down on it. By the time tablets with the Tegra chip come out, I would imagine used Nexus 7 will be selling in the low 100s — that’s what I’m REALLY waiting for. For the reading function specifically, how will better chips improve things? Yes, for playing games that’s fine and multimedia support is fine (but the Nook tablet can already play youtube and music and Netflix, what else is new?). This sounds more interesting to the gaming crowd than the reading crowd.

I guess the question depends on how quickly software will support the pie-in-the-sky functions of epub3.

Robert Nagle January 7, 2013 um 11:53 am

To put it another way: price, storage capacity, platform independence, battery life and software quality matter a lot more to me as a digital reader than chip power (although I suspect that better chips = better battery life too).

Mike Cane January 7, 2013 um 12:24 pm

Tegra 4 will mean higher-res Retina-class screens. Surely you wouldn’t object to a sharper screen? Especially if it comes in at the same general price as the Nexus 7? (Look at Nook HD+!)

Nate Hoffelder January 7, 2013 um 3:05 pm

Vizio showed one off today:

John January 7, 2013 um 10:50 am

Yeah, regret buying a Nexus 7 since it costs sooooooooo much. That 200-250 is going to make any non person living in poverty start to live in poverty….

I like this new Tegra chip and will gladly upgrade my Nexus 7 later this year if a new Nexus 7 comes out with it.

Ted_kazynski January 24, 2013 um 7:33 am

I am an avid gamer and there are many games that use the tegra 3. Even if a game isnt stressing the chip its using it to its best advantages. GTA looks better on my nexus then it ever did on my ps2, games from madfinger also use the tegra to its full potential. Deadzone is an awesome third person shooter and everybody ive showed it to is pretty amazed that its running on a tablet. The screen on my nexus 7 is near perfect. Only thing i would change is the black level and maybe a tweak on saturation. I would prefer the a similar screen and larger battery on the next version of the nexus 7. I just think upgrading both to have a minimal improvement in battery life is silly when the screen it has now is great. I want 20hrs of battery.
Also i

bhavya February 17, 2013 um 8:03 pm

check ur facts. tegra 3 had 12 core gpu and tegra 4 got it to 72 cores thats six times of tegra 3. how come ur blog got into top results on google

Nate Hoffelder February 17, 2013 um 8:08 pm

I did check my facts. I’m not sure how I got incorrect info but thanks for the correction.

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