NVIDIA Tegra 4: Will it be the 2013 King of Smartphone Processors?

2012 saw the emergence of some of the most powerful smartphones and tablets in the market – particularly those running on Android operating system.  Two years ago, it wouldn’t have been imaginable that smartphones and tablets could be as powerful – or even more powerful – compared to present day laptops.  We are now seeing smartphones with quad core processors and 3 GB or even 4 GB RAM and up to 128GB flash memories.  Smartphones are emerging that are posing a threat to present day PCs and laptops.  Over the last half of 2012, the battle of smartphones has however been fought over display technology, with smartphones now making 5 inch Full HD screens the standard for high performance smartphones.

NVIDIA Tegra 4

The leading chipset manufacturers in the smartphone and tablet markets at the moment are NVIDIA with their Tegra 3 processors being some of the most powerful, Qualcomm with the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 and Samsung’s Exynos processors.  During the 2013 CES in Las Vegas, NVIDIA and Qualcomm announced their next flagship processors, more powerful, more innovative, more reliable and more compact.  The age and design of smartphones and smartphone processors will not be the same.  Since 2013 is already shaping up to be one of the most fierce and competitive year for smartphones and tablets, which between the NVIDIA Tegra 4 and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 will take the mantle as the finest processor?  Let’s highlight some of the pros and cons of each.

The much publicized successor to the very successful Tegra 3, the Tegra 4 is a quad core just like its predecessor but is the first Cortex-A15 based processor from the company.  NVIDIA will be shipping this new generation processor with noticeable improvements especially on performance and power saving.  NVIDIA is a big name when it comes to display technology – with their line of PC GeForce graphics cards – and compared to other companies, their line of smartphone processors perform better compared to other high performance chipsets such as Samsung’s Exynos 5250 when it comes to loading web pages.  With the Tegra 4, NVIDIA has managed to squeeze an amazing 72 graphic cores in the processor – that is 6 times the number of cores in Tegra 3.


From a consumer’s stand of view, the Tegra 4 is just like the Tegra 3 because it is a quad core processor.  The main differences emerge when the chip is in actual use.  The chip is capable of handling over 4,000 High Definition content and will take HDR still pictures in under 0.2 seconds with ease.  The HDS, standing for High Dynamic Range, is the next big thing in photos after High Definition, HDR makes smartphone cameras so powerful that it channels a live feed of HDR images to a smartphone’s or a tablet’s display.  For this, the device must have a processor fast enough to handle HD images streamed on the phone, and high RAM only does not cut it.  Owners of Tegra 3 smartphones and tablets will admit that power consumption is a major issue, and NVIDIA knows that.  This is why NVIDIA is promising a 45% boost in battery efficiency.  Their second generation battery saving core inbuilt in the processor, the company promises 14 hours of HD Video streaming on devices running on NVIDIA Tegra 4.

NVIDIA was the first company to out both dual core and quad core processors for mobile.  Tegra 4, though most expected it to have even 8 cores, seems ready to take on the orders and the demands of modern smartphones and tablets.  Some manufacturers are already ordering the Tegra 4 and will be equipping them in their tablets set to come out in the next couple of months.  From the look of things, more manufacturers are prepping higher performance tablets, mini-tablets and phablets and this is their processor of choice.  This may limit the processor’s exposure but with the power of smartphones getting more and more demanding, and with smartphones being equipped with new technologies such as 4G LTE and NFC, the Tegra 4 processor may just be the future for smartphones, at least in 2013.

For now, we cannot really tell what cons the Tegra 4 has because the company couldn’t possibly give that information.  But when the chipsets are out in the market, benchmark tests will tell how great the chipsets really are.  Next, we will look at the pros of the Qualcomm Snapdragon S800 and compare it to the Tegra 4.