It’s about that time of year again: the weather is cold (well, in America), the snow is falling in many places around the world, and many are bundling down for the Holidays. That can mean only one thing: CES is right around the corner.
CES 2013 will take place in early January. Historically, the tradeshow brings about a downright deluge of gadget news as companies from across the globe convene in Las Vegas, Nevada. Everything from televisions to washing machines to future houses are shown off, but some of the most interesting products shown off aren’t actual products at all. Instead, they are processors which will make their way in to various tablets and smartphones as the year progresses.
As one of the leaders of this curve, Nvidia’s chips offer fantastic performance and an ecosystem of games optimized to push the silicon to boot. For the past year, Nvidia has been pushing the Tegra 3. Variants of the Tegra 3 power various tablets and smartphones, including the Surface RT and Nexus 7. Obviously, Nvidia’s chip is one of the more important SoCs to be released throughout the year.
Nvidia is on track, according to a leak picked up on by Chip Hell and propagated by Engadget, to release a 28 nm chip design. Highlights include six times as many GPU cores as the Tegra 3 (which is undoubtedly where the six times performance increase assumption is coming from; testing will be required to see if it translates to real-world usage).
The Tegra 4 (codenamed Wayne) will apparently offer the same power-efficient 28nm process found on its Snapdragon rival and according to the slide from Chip Hell, there’s a dizzying 72-core graphics setup. That’s six times as many GPU cores as Tegra 3 — the processor found in the Nexus 7, for example — and the increase is claimed to result in six times the overall visual performance. Those graphics cores will be able to feed displays of up to 2,560 x 1600, with 1080p output at 120Hz, while the leak also mentions 4K — if only in passing. There’s no increase in CPU cores this time, with the same 4-plus-1 setup , but we are seeing its move to ARM’s latest design, the Cortex-A15. Tegra 4 will apparently also catch up with USB 3.0, being NVIDIA’s first mobile chip to do so, alongside dual-channel DDR3L memory.
Obviously, the chip looks to be a big deal. In addition to supporting USB 3, the Tegra 4 is designed to handle extremely high resolutions – such as what is found on the iPad and the Nexus 10 – with aplomb. Nvidia has opted to keep the same CPU core arrangement, which allows for some interesting power management to go on behind the scenes and also keeps the system running smooth under heavy use.
As always, this chip isn’t targeted to Apple, who prefers to use its own chips in iDevices. However, the Tegra 4 will likely power various other platforms, including Android and Windows RT, as time goes on.