We just can't escape the Tegra 3 news leading up to Mobile World Congress, and in keeping with the trend, Nvidia announced partnerships with two LTE radio providers. GCT Semiconductor and Renesas Mobile are teaming up with chip manufacturer to create LTE-capable Tegra 3 reference hardware. Nvidia claims the designs will help OEMs build LTE Tegra 3 devices more quickly and for less money, but it may be touting these partnerships for other reasons.
One possibility is that Nvidia wants to make it clear that its willing to work with multiple vendors in order to get LTE into Tegra 3 devices. Last year, Nvidia acquired baseband processor company Icera, so that it could create its own system-on-chip with integrated LTE later this year. Even though Nvidia is making its own all-in-one LTE and processor solutions, the decision to offer reference designs with other LTE chips is a signal that it's still willing to play ball with other radio providers.
Reference designs are meant to help device manufacturers figure out how best to implement SoCs and other components, and it's possible that the Tegra 2 and LTE should have had a little more attention in this regard. The Motorola Xoom, which was powered by a Tegra 2, faced lengthy LTE-upgrade delays for reasons that were never made clear. Also, after being announced at CES 2011, the Droid Bionic disappeared, only to re-emerge as a completely different phone powered by a Texas Instruments' chip instead of the originally planned Tegra 2. Considering these issues, Nvidia may have learned a thing or two from its shaky first outing with LTE and isn't making the same mistakes twice.