Nvidia Tegra 4 rumored to feature up to 64 GPU cores based on the Kepler architecture

by: Mike AndriciApril 2, 2012

nvidia ceo kepler
While Nvidia’s Tegra 3 is one of the most popular and desirable smartphone/tablet SoCs currently available (along with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4), it seems like the fourth generation of Tegra, expected to launch at the end of 2012, will sport a number of major improvements. Simply put, if the rumored specs that have recently surfaced turn out to be true, we might see Nvidia dethroning Qualcomm as the top SoC manufacturer.

Starting with the CPU, rumor has it that Nvidia will use the 28nm manufacturing process to deliver a quad-core ARM A15-based CPU inside the Tegra 4. This is definitely not surprising, as Qualcomm already uses the ARM A15 architecture (granted, only dual-core as of yet) inside the Snapdragon S4 Krait. Adopting the Cortex A15 architecture is the only logical move for all smartphone CPU manufacturers to make before 2013. Will Nvidia place a fifth companion core inside the Tegra 4, as it did with the Tegra 3? There is no answer to that question at this point.

Now for the most interesting detail that rumors have unveiled regarding the upcoming Tegra 4. As many spec-buffs already know, the GPU inside the Tegra 3 (a slightly improved version of the one inside the Tegra 2) is based on an eight year old architecture, one that was used in the GeForce 6000 and 7000 series as well as in the RSX featured by Sony’s PS3.

Despite the fact that it uses this outdated architecture, the Tegra 3 GPU still stands up well against any currently available tech from ARM, Qualcomm, and Imagination Technologies. It just goes to show how far ahead Nvidia are in the GPU race. As per the recent rumors, the recently unveiled Nvidia Kepler GPU architecture will make it into the next generation of Tegra.

Currently available only for desktop video cards and notebook GPUs, we knew that the Kepler architecture was coming to smartphones eventually, but had no idea how soon this will happen. While there is no info regarding the exact number of GPU cores, we should expect anywhere between 32 to 64 GPGPU-compliant (CUDA-compliant) Kepler cores to be found inside the Tegra 4.

The good news is that the Kepler architecture provides not only better performance than any other GPU architecture, but it also marks a major improvement in power consumption ratios. Although ARM is expected to release the Mali-T600 soon, while Imagination Technologies is bound to release the PowerVR SGX54x, both promising to drastically improve on the current tech, the Kepler-based smartphone GPU should blow every competitor out of the water. It’s as simple as that.

To finish it off, the Nvidia Tegra 4 is also rumored to feature an Icera baseband modem, and is expected to first hit the consumer market in late 2012. Following in the Tegra 3’s footsteps, wide availability of the Tegra 4 SoC is not expected until Q1 2013.

What’s your take on this? Will the Kepler-based smartphone GPU be the biggest fish around? If you have any hopes that Qualcomm’s Adreno 320 will not be leapfrogged by the Tegra 4 GPU, let us know in the comment section below!

  • wastry

    *yawn* I’ve lost faith in Nvidia after the Tegra 3; it was supposed to be this amazing chip, and not only did Apple’s new chip thrash it, but reviews of the One X are showing that it isn’t living up to the increased battery hype.

    On the other hand, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 is setting new records, and I’m on the edge of my seat to see what the new Exynos 5450 can do. So long Nvidia; I’ll be actively avoid you from now on

    • you are joking or you are silly! Tegra3 came out in Jan 2011. You compare that with chips releasing in the end of Q1 2012.

      Why do you think Qualcomm is delaying their quad-core launch? Cos once their quadcore comes out it will be a quad-core vs quad core. You cannot blindly beat Tegra3. Of course QC’s chip will be 28nm but when they come out, it will have to be competing against Nvidia’s 2nd quad-core chip.

      1st you must know what is going on. Don’t compare chips of different generations.

      • andhavarapu

        Its true, but its sort of fair to peg two products that are currently in the market. How car’s get pegged against each other even if their lifecycles are different. Yes Tegra 3 is older but if it is an option to an S4, then the comparison is legit. Of course, one must not lose sight of the generation difference.

    • french toast

      You should look at the updated reviews…the batterylife after the over the air software update from HTC fixes things…Tegra 3 actually has very good batterylife..especially since it has a 720p screen..and has a modest 1800mah battery…

      It is also extremely fast..both for cpu and gpu…being the fastest gpu in any android phone or tablet..and also the one with the best software (games ) support.

      Put it this was, we are at a point in time where performance in a phone isa non issue anymore….

  • Naveen Stuns

    when the single core intel cpu beats qaud core tegra 3. what will be the power of quadcore *64 intel architecture.

    waiting for intel chips

    • Intel already came out with their chip for phones and Orange is a mid level chip. It does not compare with Tegra 3 and S4.

    • derp

      A single core intel cpu does not beat tegra 3. In fact, the tegra 3 performance is rated at higher than that of a core 2 duo.

  • Amine Elouakil

    Just to add some more informations to your artical,From the leaked informations Tegra 4 will be in two versions Quadcore (4 cores) or Octocore (8 cores) plus the compagnon core.

    The Adreno 320, which is available right now,(we will not see it in device till Q3 probably) will be no match to Tegra 4 gpu of course, but at that time, a new Qualcomm architecture will be in the starting block as is the S4 right now.

  • vdr

    I am waiting for the minimum 64 Hours battery…

    • derp

      Wait all your life if you like, but battery life will not improve by much until people make higher capacity batteries. I know that LG has done this with their Optimus 4X HD (featuring tegra 3) by including an SIO+ battery, which made the battery 2140mah instead of 1400mah.

  • i was going to buy the htc one x. but, then i decided to wait. i have a feeling htc will release a tegra 4 smartphone.

  • Gregoryshaw

    And the anti Nvidia band plays on. Boring tune. What did Gekko say? “Don’t get emotional about a company, it clouds the judgement.” Buy one of each, spend some time in the dark with each of them, and clarity may prevail. Most likely you’ll find you’ve been right, and wrong.

  • andhavarapu

    Uh I thought later this year it was 3rd party LTE and Icera is only for 2013/2014 products…

  • stevenshearing

    At the rate off these tablets get faster it will soon be worth installing Linux on them along with mouse and keyboards.

  • so does this mean I should wait for Tegra 4 on tablets instead of getting Nexus 7 ? What do you guys think ?

  • Ugh… Less cores, more/deeper pipelines, more optimization. There’s a lot of wasted space when you replicate entire cores; space that can go towards functions that multiple cores can use. This is the strategy behind PowerVRs upcoming killer 6-series GPU.

  • Poland Nvidia od Tegra 3 aż
    do Tegra 6 – Co rok potrafi
    udowodnić Swoją Siłę na Rynku Mobilnym To co robią jest niesamowite mam ogromny
    do nich Szacunek od Kierownika do Pracowników tak samo do osób którzy
    Przyłączają się do Firmy Nvidia oraz Osób którzy piszą na stronach
    internetowych oraz na You Tube Ten Rozwój Nowoczesnej Technologi Jest
    Niesamowity Potrzebny warto go do docenić to przecież jest robione dla nas
    byśmy mieli radość z Gry i nie tylko to są Specjaliści którzy bawią się
    technologią najlepsi eksperci Szczerego Serca Życzę Firmie Nvidia oraz
    wszystkim którzy współpracują Sukcesu na Rynku z Dużym Szacunkiem z Poważaniem
    Radosław Sobierański ze Słupsk