NVIDIA announces Phoenix, hopes to make handset maker’s lives far simpler

by: ŠtefanFebruary 19, 2013

Intel powers pretty much every PC sold today. Why? Because Intel will sell PC makers everything they need to get a PC up and running: motherboards, chips, solid state drives. All PC makers have to do is put everything in a box and install Windows. NVIDIA is looking to try the same thing, but with smartphones.

Say hello to Phoenix. It’s a 5 inch 1080p smartphone that’s made by NVIDIA, but it’s not for end users. It’s not even for developers. It’s actually meant for handset makers. They get a device that’s already working out of the box, tweak the case a little, add some custom icons, and boom, a smartphone is born.

Now to be fair, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this. MediaTek, the Chinese fabless semiconductor company that is responsible for the huge smartphone adoption rates currently being seen in China, has been providing reference designs for ages. Hell, even Intel made reference designs that we then saw hit the market under the Xolo brand name.

The big question is will handset makers bite? With margins shrinking, there isn’t money available to make special phones that are filled with custom parts. In today’s economy, whitebox solutions like the Phoenix are exactly what companies want.

Still, we can’t help but think that NVIDIA is becoming desparate here. Several weeks ago we heard that the company was having difficulties landing orders for the Tegra 4. Maybe it’s because their partners had some information about the Tegra 4i?

Oh right, we totally forgot to mention the Tegra 4i! That’s the brand new chip that’s inside the Phoenix. We’re sad to report that the 4i is basically an overclocked Tegra 3, but with built-in 4G LTE. Maybe we’ll like it once we bench it, but right now the expectations are low.

  • “the 4i is basically an overclocked Tegra 3, but with built-in 4G LTE” – This is not exactly true! The Tegra 4i is more like frankenstain of the two! It has the CPU cores from the Tegra 3 (overclocked) but uses the new Geforce GPU from the Tegra 4(stripped from 72 to 60 cores). Also it is build on the 28nm process so it should be cooler and faster than the Tegra 3. And you get a soft rario as a bonus (not an FM one :) )

    • Mike Reid

      SDR Software defined radio ?

      Interesting… but for what ? 3g/4g/voice etc ? WiFi ? BT ? GPS ? NFC ? FM ? FM HD ? ATSC ? DMB ? Some combination of these ?

      EDIT: Apparently the SDR is for the modem/baseband, ie 3g/4g/LTE/voice etc. How is that different from current basebands with updatable firmware ? I’d guess it might be easier to deal with multiple or new standards.

      Sprint has a deal to pump out 30 millions phones with FM and FM HD, and other US carriers are being negotiated with.

      SDR can be redefined with software, so OEMs can upgrade or remove capabilities in the field should the need/deal arise.

      Tegra is on my “likely going nowhere” list, but SDR is intriguing for me, in the right bands.