Nvidia has just announced its next-generation Tegra 4 processor for smartphones, tablets, and notebooks. The Tegra 4, like its predecessor, features a quad-core processor along with a fifth, low power, core to save battery life. Although it retains the 4-plus-1 setup of Tegra 3, Nvidia's fourth-generation chip is built on an all-new architecture. The company's CEO Jen-Hsun Huang says that Tegra 4 is the world's fastest mobile processor, surpassing everything currently on the market. Nvidia hasn't revealed the clock speed of the Tegra 4's processor yet, but it does say that it has 72 GPU cores — we imagine its referring to CUDA cores here. Although it hasn't been confirmed, it's been rumored that Tegra 4 is produced using a new 28nm manufacturing process — a step up from Tegra 3's 40nm — and should help improve power consumption despite Tegra 4's improved power.
No integrated LTE may hurt Nvidia
Tegra 3 failed to find its way into as many devices as Qualcomm's Snapdragon not for lack of power, but because of poor battery life. Despite its companion core setup, Nvidia couldn't manage to integrate LTE in its chip, which negatively impacted battery life when compared to Qualcomm's integrated setup. Unfortunately, the same is true again — Tegra 4 doesn't have an LTE chip integrated, so smartphones and tablets with Tegra inside will require an additional cellular modem. Although the latest quad-core Snapdragon smartphones don't have LTE integrated either, Qualcomm is expected to release a chip that does this Spring, while Nvidia is unlikely to manage that until later this year.
Nvidia says its new system-on-a-chip isn't just for making your games faster, though. Huang demoed a new imaging engine it calls "Nvidia computational photography engine." Using the Tegra 4's increased power, Huang demoed some advancements in high-dynamic range (HDR) photography. An unnamed Windows RT tablet was used to create an HDR instantly by capturing two images at exactly the same time. Later, he showed a live HDR mode that could open to the door to HDR video.
Nvidia has just announced Project Shield, a handheld console that will be powered by Tegra 4. There's no pricing or release date for either Project Shield or Tegra 4, but we expect to hear about some more devices over the coming days, so stay tuned.