NVIDIA’s Tegra 4 not selling as fast as expected

July 5, 2013

    Nvidia Tegra 4Recent successes by mobile processor makers such a Qualcomm and the Taiwanese fab-less semiconductor company MediaTek seem to be putting pressure on the sales of NVIDIA’s latest ARM based processor the Tegra 4. Although NVIDIA has managed to attract some big clients for its new processor, it seems that the high price of the SoC is causing some of its partners to wait for the cheaper Tegra 4i which also has the benefit of the integrated i500 LTE modem.

    According to upstream suppliers which have spoken to the Digitimes, shipment volumes of the Tegra 4 are limited. The Tegra 4, which was announced at the beginning of this year, is a quad-core Cortex-A15 design which, like the Tegra 3, also features a extra 5th companion core for use in ultra low power situations with the other cores shutdown. Running at a maximum speed of 1.9GHz the chip is manufactured by TSMC using a 28nm process.

    Big wins for NVIDA so far include the Slate 21, HP’s Android-powered all-in-one computer with its massive 21.5 inch display; Toshiba’s Excite Pro and Excite Write tablets, both of which are 10.1-inch devices; and the new Transformer Pad Infinity from Asus, which features a 2,560 x 1,600 display.

    These however are all high-end devices and have limited general consumer appeal. None of them are high volume 7 inch or 8 inch consumer level tablets. The previous generation of processor, the Tegra 3, was chosen by Google for use in its Nexus 7 tablet, but so far the rumors are that the next iteration of the Nexus 7 will use a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor instead.

    Since the Tegra 4i, which is based on the Cortex A9 micro-architecture not the A15, is cheaper (but slower) and comes with an integrated i500 LTE modem, it is thought that device makers could use it in upcoming mobile phones, but since it is really just an overclocked Tegra 3 (running at 2.3GHz), it is only part of the Tegra 4 family by name alone. This means that Qualcomm could see its Snapdragon 800 flagship processor used instead of the Tegra 4 as it does include an integrated LTE modem.

    Clearly the Tegra 4 is a fast processor and it can be used together with the i500 LTE modem, which is also available as a separate but complementary chipset. However, it seems that NVIDA has some work to do in convincing its OEMs about the processors benefits.

    Comments

    • vaghoust

      After what they did with their ”first dual core chip”(the lg 2x with tegra 2 got ICS at the end of 2012) many customers avoid them completely,I will never buy any tegra product again.

    • Bone

      Course it’s not selling fast, it’s an absolute heat and power eating mess. Samsung is lucky that they can still work on the Exynos 5 despite difficulties, but the Tegra 4 architecture will end soon unless you have a heat sink included like Shield.

    • Dr. Zoidburg

      This isn’t at all suprising. Phone and tablet manufacturers got burned by the Tegra 3. Nvidia has a great marketing department. R&D, not so much.

    • p3ngwin

      “…since it is really just an overclocked Tegra 3 (running at 2.3GHz), it is only part of the Tegra 4 family by name alone.”

      what?

      it may not be full of A15 cores, but the T4i sits exactly where it’s aimed at, right between the Tegra 3 and the Tegra 4.

      Tegra 3 used ARM’s Cortex A9 r2p9, and with Tegra 4i, NVIDIA moved to the absolute latest version of the Cortex A9 core r4p1.

      Compared to Tegra 3, Tegra 4i has:

      - a completely revamped GPU,

      - better A9 core revision as well as significantly higher clocks,

      - Nvidia’s “Computational Camera”,

      - support for DDR3L & LPDDR3,

      - integrated soft-modem,

      Terga may be many things, such as late and unpopular, but to call it “really just an overclocked Tegra 3″ is ignorant and deceitful.

      I suppose you think Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600 & 800 is also “just an overclocked S4″ ?

      SOURCES:

      http://www.arm.com/products/processors/cortex-r/cortex-r4.php

      http://www.anandtech.com/show/6787/nvidia-tegra-4-architecture-deep-dive-plus-tegra-4i-phoenix-hands-on/3

      • Grahaman27

        and 1866mhz RAM vs tegra 3′s 800mhz.
        integrated LTE on a smaller die,
        23nm process vs 40nm process.
        Conclusion: completely different silicon.

        • p3ngwin

          yep, i mentioned the integrated soft-radio.

          totally agreed on the info you added too :)

          • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

            Yep, I mentioned the integrated i500 LTE modem in the article too!!!!!

        • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

          Grahaman27, as I mention to p3ngwin above, the T4i is closer to a revision of the Tegra 3 than a variant of the Tegra 4. No one is saying it is the same chip as the Tegra 3, but it is an iteration of the Tegra 3 and not a variant of the Tegra 4.

          Of course it is completely different silicon, no-one said it isn’t and for my part (as the author) I don’t think the article is unreliable. The A9 architecture is completely different to the A15. And since the T3 was based on the A9 it is wrong to say that the T4i is closer to the T3 than the T4. Also the A12 is replacing the A9 and for NVIDIA to try and suggest that the T4i is really a T4 is stretching the truth a little toooo far.

          Thanks, Gary.

      • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

        p3ngwin, everything you say is true but that doesn’t make the Tegra 4i anything like the Tegra 4. It is closer to a revision of the Tegra 3 than a variant of the Tegra 4. Really it should be called the Tegra 3+ or something. No one is saying it is the same chip as the Tegra 3, but it is an iteration of the Tegra 3 and not a variant of the Tegra 4.

        So as you correctly say, “the T4i sits exactly where it’s aimed at, right between the Tegra 3 and the Tegra 4.” It is a T3 plus extras and not a T4 minus features. It is also worth noting that NVIDIA have had to bump the clock speed up very high to make the T4i not perform badly compared to the T3. I wonder if it was running at the same clock speed, what would be the performance difference???

        Of course the inclusion of the i500 LTE modem will hopefully make it an attractive solution for the OEMs, but the i500 can be used (as a complementary chipset) with the Tegra 3 and Tegra 4.

        Thanks, Gary.

        • p3ngwin

          “…that doesn’t make the Tegra 4i anything like the Tegra 4″

          i said it was right in between.

          “It is closer to a revision of the Tegra 3 than a variant of the Tegra 4″

          actually it shares more in common with the T4 than the T3, see feature set outlined above.

          “Really it should be called the Tegra 3+ or something. No one is saying it is the same chip as the Tegra 3, but it is an iteration of the Tegra 3and not a variant of the Tegra 4″

          “no one” eh?

          you exactly said that it was “an overclocked T3″. While the truth is T4i is significantly different than the T3, see feature set above.

          “It is also worth noting that NVIDIA have had to bump the clock speed up very high to make the T4i not perform badly compared to the T3″

          they didn’t *have* do do anything, they chose to, as afforded by the Cortex revision and fabrication process. it’s not anything to do with *had to* and more to with with *intended to*. the only thing being forced is your personal beliefs about the T4i being a “an overclocked T3″.

          **So as you correctly say, “the T4i sits exactly where it’s aimed at, right between the Tegra 3 and the Tegra 4.”**

          make your mind up, is it “closer to T3″ or is it “right between T3 and T4″ ? can’t be both. pick one and stick to it.

          “It is a T3 plus extras and not a T4 minus features”

          it shares most features with the T4, right down to the GPU architecture, the modem, the computational camera, etc. It’s not a T3 in most ways you look at it, any more than a Qualcomm S4 is a S600.

          “Of course the inclusion of the i500 LTE modem will hopefully make it an attractive solution for the OEMs, but the i500 can be used (as a complementary chipset) with the Tegra 3 and Tegra 4.”

          That comment doesn’t relate to anything i said.

          the simple fact is the T4i has all the features laid out above and clearly is at *least* in the middle as a separate product between the T3 and T4, more likely a little closer to T4.

          how you think T4i is just an “overclocked T3″ is ridiculous.

          • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

            p3ngwin, Thanks for your reply… I can see that you are very passionate about this and I don’t want to get into a flame war with you.

            In talking about the relative merits of the different processors I used hyperbole to describe the lacks in the T4i. Clearly this literary method didn’t work for you. What can I say…

            Personally, I think that marketing an Cortex-A9 processor under the Tegra 4 moniker is dubious, but that is just my opinion.

            Qualcomm has clearly distinguished its different classes of CPUs, NVIDIA hasn’t. Your take on this is that the T4i is likely a little closer to the T4, OK fine, my take is that it is a little closer to the T3.

            The point of the article is that NVIDIA is failing to sell the T4 now and that Qualcomm is having greater success. The T4i may change that, it may not. If it is seen by the OEMs as truly a mid point processor between the T3 and the T4 then it could succeed. If it is seen as a marketing slight of hand then it might not succeed. Time will tell.

            Thanks, Gary

            • p3ngwin

              yeah, exaggeration isn’t going to cut it describe T4i as “an overclocked T3″.

              you say Nvidia’s marketing is “dubious”, yet your exaggeration is equally so.

              Pot meet kettle.

              you don’t think Nvidia have “distinguished” their processors ?

              So now you’re complaining about “names” ?

              Jebus, anything else you want to moan about ? maybe the colour, is it a little not to your liking ?

              you say you want to talk about the “merits” of the processors, yet this would mean yo have to acknowledge the listed features that differentiate it from the T3 and put it squarely in the middle with the T4.

              It’s quite amazing to see someone who believes they’re knowledgeable enough about technology to report it to other people, yet blatantly ignoring the many differences of the T4i and claim it’s an “just an overclocked T3″.

              oh well, if hyperbole passes as “reporting” for some people, i guess so be it.

              Why let detailed facts get in the way of a good exaggerated article ?

            • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

              p3ngwin, again many thanks for your reply. As I said I don’t want to get into a flame war with you. I am sorry you didn’t enjoy the article. Hyperbole is not meant to be taken literally.

              There is little more that I can say. I will take on-board your comments and I will duly reconsider my use of hyperbole as a literary device.

              However I will mention one thing, out of the near 400 words in the article, you disagree with one statement. That doesn’t make the whole article exaggerated as you imply when you wrote, “Why let detailed facts get in the way of a good exaggerated article?” Isn’t that statement in itself an exaggeration or were you using hyperbole?

              Thanks again, Gary.

            • p3ngwin

              well let’s see…as you asked. previously i disliked most your comment about the architecture, but if you want more feedback, i’ll happily oblige.

              How about your introduction claiming Mediatek have “successes…. putting pressure on Nvidia”, yet claiming Nvidia’s design wins are “all high-end devices and have limited general consumer appeal” ?

              really?

              – Toshiba: Excite Pro, Excite Write, and Excite Pureor

              - Asus Transformer Pad Infinity

              - Toshiba REGZA AT703

              - Visio’s 10″ tablet (unnamed as yet)

              - BungBungame Kalos

              - ZTE N988

              “None of them are high volume 7 inch or 8 inch consumer level tablets.”

              And yet Mediatek design wins are what exactly ?

              odd way to compare a relative unknown vendor to most (Metiatek) with Nvidia in a way that presents Nvidia as less “successful”.

              The entire article presents Nvidia as somehow nothing special with “high-end” design wins with HP’s products, while you fail to mention why Mediatek’s products in comparison deserve any praise. you don’t even list any products using MT’s chips.

              you make a comparison with biased data, acknowledging Nvidia’s design wins in a sentence simultaneously belittling them for having “limited general consumer appeal”.

              But MediaTek are a “general consumer” favourite are they ?

              you mention Google’s Nexus 7 had Nvidia inside but “rumours” suggest the next Nexus tablet may not.

              really? using rumour to belittle Nvidia who *have* design wins while somehow mentioning Mediatek in the same article as if they’re the popular favourite ?

              Yes, Nvidia were in the Nexus 7, and others, and now they’re in HP’s products.

              what “general consumer” products have Mediatek been inside…. *crickets…tumbleweed…..crickets….*.

              Your next sentence doesn’t even make sense:

              “Since the Tegra 4i is cheaper, and comes with an integrated i500 LTE modem, it is thought that device makers could use it in upcoming mobile phones, but since it is really just an overclocked Tegra 3, it is only part of the Tegra 4 family by name alone.”

              with or without the run-on sentence fluff, it makes no sense but to belittle Nvidia, again.

              “However, it seems that NVIDA has some work to do in convincing its OEMs about the processors benefits.”

              But Mediatek have no work to do at all, not even due to the fact they nowhere near Nvidia in design wins, etc?

              again, more belittling.

              meanwhile Mediatek, they’re something to take note of apparently, despite zero “general consumer appeal”.

              so yeah, the whole article is full of FUD and hyperbole.

              Nvidia are in a lot of trouble for various reasons, and as much as it would be great to have a healthy competitor to Qualcomm, it’s still a one-horse race in ARM land. Nvidia have much work to do.

              Your article doesn’t need to belittle them with irrelevant Mediatek comparisons and cherry-picked “Google Nexus” references, etc.

              the whole “Nvidia have high-end but what does that matter when general consumer products are where the bread and butter is ?” rhetoric is utter nonsense designed to belittle a company as if it is not “successful” while you name-drop Mediatek around as if they’re relevant.

              You don’t have to spin the article, just present the data honestly and clearly without muddying the effort with hyperbole and bias.

              Nvidia have design wins, but they’re a mixed bag of exotic eastern products and select western high-end tablets, not enough to make a dent in the smartphone market where the real money is.

              Nvidia’s terrible habit of slipping road-maps and under-performing processors will do the rest. So just let the data speak for itself instead of trying to make sure they look bad.

              Nvidia are doing a much better job of that without the FUD.

            • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

              I used the word MediaTek once in the whole article in a “such as” context. You used it over ten times in your reply. Little else needs to be said.

            • p3ngwin

              excellent way address the message and means in my comment calling out your Nvidia FUD.

              you’re a credit to writer’s integrity and practice of journalism.

              i guess you can be quiet now as nothing needs else needs to be said.

            • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

              I am happy to carry on, but I am concerned that your comments are turning more into rants rather than a constructive and nice conversation. I could be wrong, but I don’t want this to degenerate into anything uncivil.

              Clearly you don’t like the article and it seems now you don’t like me either. Is this getting personal? I hope not.

            • p3ngwin

              one moment it’s a case of “little else needs to be said” and the next it’s a case of “i’m happy to carry on”. sometimes a “T4i is closer to a T3″ and other times you agree it’s “right in the middle”.

              you seem to enjoy avoiding the issues and changing your mind.

              it’s not personal unless you choose it to be, as i’ve simply focused on the bad article aimed at Nvidia FUD. be offended if you want and make this about you instead of the bad article. Either way you are the one wasting time having a “conversation” about nothing and trying to make a fight about nothing while completely ignoring the topic of my comments. you take the time to read my comments only to reply how many times a word is used ?

              Anyway i’ve got other priorities for the rest of today, i may be inclined to read a further response from you *if* it’s focused on addressing the points in my comments as opposed to you talking about any other off-topic distractions such as personal insecurities and word-counts, etc..

            • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

              p3ngwin, OK let me try to explain my word count post, if we can understand each other on this then maybe we can address some of the other points.

              In my original article I said, “Recent successes by mobile processor makers such a Qualcomm and MediaTek seem to be putting pressure on the sales of the Tegra 4.”

              The article is referring to NVIDIA’s competition both large and small. One of which is Qualcomm, one (but much smaller is MediaTek). Since I used the phrase “such as” this implies that there are other companies in competition with NVIDIA and the list is not exclusive or exhaustive.

              In your reply you used the word MediaTek ten times or so. And you raised valid points about MediaTek’s impact on the market. Many of the statements you made are true when talking only about MediaTek. I can’t disagree with those point. But the article is referring to NVIDIA’s general competition including Qualcomm, including MediaTek and including others.

              Therefore you comments, which although could be true about MediaTek alone, aren’t true about NVIDIA’s competition when seen as a whole.

              Hence my comment that I mentioned the word MediaTek once, but you wrote a substantial reply about MediaTek as if the title of the article was “MediaTek reason why Tegra 4 not selling.”

              That particular reply of yours changed a general statement about NVIDIA’s competition – ‘other mobile processor makers’ – into a specific statement about MediaTek. At no point in the article do I specifically do that.

              My “wordcount” reply was an attempt to highlight the error you made by going from the general to the specific, as this wasn’t the point of the article. If I had written a “MediaTek reason why Tegra 4 not selling” article your reply would have been more understandable. But I didn’t and so the reply is hard to understand from a contextual point of view.

              Does that make any sense?

              Thanks, Gary.

              P.S. Just for the record, MediaTek is Asia’s largest chipset designer and ships over 170 million chipsets per year.

            • p3ngwin

              redundancy seems to be your go-to filler.

              “Since I used the phrase “such as” this implies that there are other companies in competition with NVIDIA and the list is not exclusive or exhaustive.”

              every company has competition on both sides of the spectrum. this is nothing unique to Nvidia.

              “That particular reply of yours changed a general statement about NVIDIA’s competition – ‘other mobile processor makers’ – into a specific statement about MediaTek. At no point in the article do I specifically do that.”

              Maybe it was best you did.

              “If I had written a “MediaTek reason why Tegra 4 not selling” article your reply would have been more understandable. But I didn’t and so the reply is hard to understand from a contextual point of view.”

              If you had written more accurate detail, and less hyperbole, about *why* Nvida’s Tegra4 isn’t selling, you would have a more informative and specif point to make.

              As much as you attempt to mention Nvidia’s struggles at the high-end with the likes of Qualcomm, and at the low end with cheaper alternatives such as MediaTek, you’re point isn’t clear and simply looks like Nvidia bashing.

              You make a point to mention Google’s next Nexus 7 possibly going from Nvidia to Qualcomm, but your message is lost in it’s attempt to show double-sided competition, and instead the statement looks like more Nvidia bashing.

              you invest more time on the specifics of Nvidia, and this is why it appears to belittle them due to the “nit-picking”, when if your message is truly the severity of their competition then you would best mention the details of that competition .

              mention the competition with the kind of specifics you afforded the Nvidia bashing. Talk about shipment numbers, design wins, revenue, profit margins, etc, from the low-end to the high-end.

              Those kinds of details will make it quite clear why you believe Nvida’s Tegra4 is not selling fast. Not detailing why you believe the T4i is “just an overclocked T3″. That’s not the reason T4 isn’t selling, which i believe was the focus of the article according to it’s title yes ?

              As it is, your article just looks like a shallow attempt to belittle a company that is in trouble. As i mentioned, the facts are plenty and make for enough fodder to let Nvidia hang themselves.

              Your hyperbole isn’t needed, and in fact your lack of focus, and insistence T4i is “just an overclocked T3″, makes it worse to achieve your goal of demonstrating *why* Tegra4 isn’t selling.

              as i said: “You don’t have to spin the article, just present the data honestly and clearly without muddying the effort with hyperbole and bias….Nvidia’s terrible habit of slipping road-maps and under-performing processors will do the rest. So just let the data speak for itself instead of trying to make sure they look bad.”

              “Just for the record, MediaTek is Asia’s largest chipset designer and ships over 170 million chipsets per year.”

              It’s a little too late to be sharing data that should have been in your article to support your attempted message.

              Does that make sense now ?

            • http://www.garysims.co.uk garysims

              p3ngwin, I opened my last reply with “if we can understand each other on this then maybe we can address some of the other points.” Clearly that hasn’t happened, so I think I will stop here.

              Thanks for taking the time to write such full replies.

              All the best, Gary.

            • p3ngwin

              yes, i understood your comments and points.

              are you mistaking “understating” for “agreeing” ?

              seems you’re again refusing to address the higher priorities and scapegoating on lower-hanging fruit. apparently if i agree with the less important points of your article you will agree to finally discuss the actual point of your article.

              What a strange way to negotiate and engage your readers. oh well, so be it.

              All the best, p3ngwin.

            • weed

              wow, you really have some serious issues man, please get a grip. Passionate was a too nice term.

              And then, Tegra, its good on paper, always was, but still an underperformer in real life. Draw your own parallels here.

            • p3ngwin

              hey no need to start throwing personal insults about emotional stability man, relax and don’t overreact :)

    • Spencer Walker

      nvidia needs to dump all there resources into tegra 5 since its more powerful than a ps3 according to nvidia with built in LTE then market the shit out of it.

    • Yama

      Trust me, Tegra sucks very much compared to exynos and qualcom!
      My tablett has tegra 3 quadcore 1,6ghz and its really slow and everything has to close…infinity tf700

      • Grahaman27

        not the same chip. apples and oranges.

      • weed

        Infinity TF700 is a great example of how defective the Tegra architecture is, since it is also available with Dual-core Krait, in the 3G version. Very smooth and fast compared to the Tegra version.

    • Patrick Richardson

      The Nexus 7 feels so slow next to even my brothers Galaxy Nexus… the Tegra 3 did not age well.

      • weed

        All Tegra3 devices are like that, the fifth core is trying to do stuff alone, the result is the famous lag and stuttering/freezes that made HTC HOX such a great failure. Of all the Tegra3 tablets I have tried only Sony Xperia Tablet S felt like it had acceptable performance, but smooth web browsing will always be out of the question with Tegra devices, it’s more realistic that clicking Like on Facebook posts can cure cancer.

    • Grahaman27

      Nvidia is not focusing on the tegra 4 very much, the Tegra 5 is what they really care about. The tegra 5 is their baby, it has their latest GPU architecture. They were talking about the tegra 5 only a month after they announced the Tegra 4.

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