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Nvidia hopes to revive slumping Tegra sales with new LTE chip

Nvidia hopes to revive slumping Tegra sales with new LTE chip

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Tegra 4, the fourth generation of Nvidia's mobile processor, was launched under the banner of being "the world's fastest," but its sales so far have not been particularly brisk. In reporting its earnings for the third quarter of 2013, Nvidia notes that Tegra revenues have fallen by a precipitous 54 percent — more than halved — relative to the previous year. This has been "largely related to lower volume shipments of Tegra 4," according to newly appointed CFO Colette Kress.

Although Microsoft's much-improved Surface 2 is shipping with Tegra 4 on board and a quarter of all Tegra chips go to automotive systems, Android is still the primary platform on which Nvidia relies for its sales. And this year, Qualcomm has dominated the chip market there — every major company's flagship device is presently running a Snapdragon inside it. The LG G2, Sony Xperia Z1, Nexus 5, HTC One family, and even some of Samsung's Galaxy S and Note handsets all bear the mark of Qualcomm.

Until Tegra 4i, Jen-Hsun Huang looks to larger form factors to boost Tegra 4

The problem is not at all new for Nvidia, which has been lagging behind Qualcomm's integrated LTE solution for months now. CEO Jen-Hsun Huang has encouraging news, however, updating the roadmap for Tegra 4i — Nvidia's own chip that combines the applications processor and LTE modem in one — to say that devices will be announced early next year and shipping in Q2 at the latest. He also tells investors that AT&T has already certified the use of Tegra 4i processors, clearing the way for a potential rebound into the high-end Android market by the middle of 2014.

Until Tegra 4i's debut, Jen-Hsun looks to larger form factors to help boost Tegra 4 take-up. HP used the quad-core chip in its 21-inch all-in-one Slate earlier this year, and the Nvidia CEO anticipates more desktop devices to harness its power in the near future. More tablets and automotive applications are also on the cards, but the core smartphone business will remain in a "wait and see" mode in anticipation of the LTE-equipped 4i chip.