Leak: NVIDIA Tegra 4 to have 72 graphics cores, four ARM Cortex A15 cores?

December 18, 2012
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NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 is a chip that we were supposed to fall in love with when we first heard that it would come with four ARM Cortex A9 cores, but then when it finally came out, powering HTC’s 2012 flagship phone, the One X, we were left with a bad taste in our mouths. It overheated, it wasn’t as fast as Qualcomm’s dual core Snapdragon S4, and it just didn’t deliver on all the promises that NVIDIA made. Will the company turn things around with the next generation, the Tegra 4?

According to a slide that was leaked on the Chinese forum Chiphell, the Tegra 4 (codenamed “Wayne”) will have 72 graphics cores. That sounds like a lot, but that’s because NVIDIA’s math is done by someone in the marketing department. Does a pixel shader count as a “core”? Does a vertex shader count as a “core”? Yes and yes. The slide says the Tegra 4 will have 6x the number of cores as the Tegra 3, but will that translate to 6x the performance? We’ll have to wait to benchmark devices that use this as yet to be announce piece of silicon.

The slide also confirms that the Tegra 4 will use 28 nanometer transistors, something we were expecting. Qualcomm’s S4 chip has been using 28 nm technology since it first hit the market earlier this year. As for the application processors, the slide doesn’t say “ARM Cortex A15″, but that’s what we’re expecting to see. Curiously, the Tegra 4 will also have an extra core for power savings, but again, information wasn’t given as to what architecture will power it.

Any other things of note? Hardware accelerated h.264 High Profile and VP8 at up to 2560 x 1440 pixels, USB 3.0 support, and dual channel memory support.

Are we excited? You bet, but at the same time we’re cognizant of the fact that both Samsung and Qualcomm are also going to announce new chips next year. All that just means more benchmarking for us.

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