Last month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, NVIDIA showed off their latest chip for smartphones and tablets, the Tegra 4. It’s got four ARM Cortex A15 cores, one incredibly fast graphics processor, and the whole package is allegedly six times faster than the Tegra 3, but we’re not going to believe that until we run our own benchmarks.
Sounds like a great chip, right? According to our favorite Taiwanese rumor site DigiTimes, it seems that device makers are not that interested. Only one company has so far committed to using the Tegra 4, and that’s Toshiba.
Why is this happening? The DigiTimes report says companies are more interested in using chips from Qualcomm and MediaTek. We don’t blame them. Qualcomm offers companies a system on chip with integrated cellular connectivity, something the Tegra 4 sadly lacks. Sure, NVIDIA will gladly sell you their new soft modem, the i500, but it’s completely unproven, whereas Qualcomm has built an amazing reputation for themselves in the wireless space during the past few years.
And as for MediaTek, they’re the leader when it comes to supplying cheap chips for devices that don’t get sold outside of China and a handful of other Asian countries. MediaTek’s quad core chip is probably an order of magnitude slower than the Tegra 4, but do you think the person buying a $100 tablet really cares about that?
In a few short weeks the largest mobile convention of the year is going to kick off, Mobile World Congress. There’s a high probability that we’re not going to see any devices announced there that use the Tegra 4, so don’t sit on the edge of your seat. We’ll know more about the fate of NVIDIA’s latest chip during the second half of the year. By then Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 600 and 800 chips will be out, so it’s going to be one hell of an interesting fight to watch.