Tegra 3, Nvidia's new quad-core chip for smartphones and tablets, has been the most talked-about new processor at MWC 2012. Its popularity continues a habit the company established last year when almost every phone maker had a Tegra 2 handset to show off. Today's a little different from yesteryear, however, in one very important aspect: America's top two carriers demand LTE in their high-end phones. That poses a conundrum for Nvidia as Tegra 3 is most evidently a high-end part, but without LTE connectivity, it won't find its way into any of AT&T or Verizon's hero devices.
Faced with that contradiction, we did the only thing we could do: we went straight to the source, in the form of Tegra division General Manager Mike Rayfield, to see how Nvidia will overcome the challenge. Mike reminded us that Nvidia is already working on its own LTE modems and has partnerships in place with modem makers that will allow for LTE-enabled Tegra 3 phones in the latter half of 2012. Until then, he says, Nvidia will simply have to accept being second to Qualcomm and its integrated LTE connectivity in the new Snapdragon S4 for "a very short period of time."
Before we could ask him for his definition of what constitutes a short time, Mike said he expects the lag time to be around six months — meaning that we can expect Nvidia to be up and running in the US LTE race with Qualcomm as soon as September. Of course, from Nvidia's perspective, the company that's in the lead right now is the one that is able to offer a quad-core processor with a 12-core GPU, with Mike confidently asserting that Nvidia is "about a year ahead of Qualcomm." For more insight into Nvidia's plans for the coming year and beyond, watch our full interview below.