We just finished NVIDIA's CES press conference where it introduced the Tegra 4 SoC and Shield mobile gaming console. Immediately following the press event we snagged some more information about Tegra 4 and the NVIDIA i500 Baseband silicon:

- Tegra 4 is built on TSMC's 28nm HPm process (low power 28nm with High-K + Metal Gate)

Just confirmed that our initial information was incorrect, it's 28nm HPL (28nm low power with high-k + metal gates). The difference between HPL and HPM is a optimization for leakage vs. peak performance. This helps explain the 1.9GHz max frequency for the A15s in Tegra 4.

- The fifth/companion core is also a Cortex A15, but synthesized to run at lower frequencies/voltages/power. This isn't the same G in and island of LP process that was Tegra 2/3. NEW: the 5th core will run at between 700 and 800MHz depending on SKU.

- The fifth/companion core isn't visible to the OS, it's not big.LITTLE but it'll work similarly to how Tegra 3 worked. This probably means no companion core in Windows RT. 

- The four Cortex A15s will run at up to 1.9GHz.

- NEW: die size is around 80mm^2, slightly bigger than Tegra 3 but on a much higher density process

- NEW: the shaders aren't unified, the majority are 20-bit pixel shader cores though. No idea on the ratio yet.

- dual-channel memory interface, LP-DDR3 is supported

- NVIDIA's i500 will launch with LTE UE Category 3 (100Mbps downlink) support, eventually we'll see an update to UE Category 4 (150Mbps downlink). 

- i500 will launch with carrier aggregation for WCDMA, no idea what 3GPP release.


- As far as Shield goes, I wanted to correct one thing about how the PC display streaming works. The PC will stream to the display directly, not through Shield. Shield will pass controller commands to the PC. 

- Shield will launch in Q2 at a price competitive with other mobile gaming systems and tablets. 

- All of the games during the Shield demo were 720p, except for one which was 1080p.

- Miracast is supported, but something better will come later.

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  • Auzo - Monday, January 7, 2013 - link

    Does the i500 modem work with CDMA2000?
  • jeffkibuule - Monday, January 7, 2013 - link

    The number of hoops nVidia would need to jump through just to support the few CDMA2000 carriers like Verizon, Sprint, and KDDI just isn't worth the cost. Plus, they'd have to pay licensing fees up the wazoo to Qualcomm for the CDMA2000 patents and everyone is already making a clear move to LTE.

    My guess is no.
  • DanNeely - Monday, January 7, 2013 - link

    It's a software defined radio; so they'd only need to pay CDMA royalties on variants targeted at CDMA carriers. It's probably a year or two early to make LTE only products for any of them. VZW's planning to have it's national LTE rollout completed by the end of the year; but Sprint's not only farther behind, but outside of the cities their 3g coverage is often roaming on VZWs network and the latter isn't sharing LTE with anyone else yet. It's possible that Softbank's cash infusion will be spent significantly expanding Sprint's native network footprint; but if so I'd've expected them to have started talking doing so up already.
  • DanNeely - Monday, January 7, 2013 - link

    On farther thought, with MVNO's CDMA is likely to linger as a requirement for longer. VZW isn't letting it's MVNO have access to LTE at all yet; and AFAIK isn't letting Sprint MVNO's roam on anything except 2g for voice/sms usage; the latter will probably end up requiring CDMA support of some sort until VZW starts retiring it's legacy networks entirely to free up additional spectrum for LTE.
  • blanarahul - Thursday, January 17, 2013 - link

    Looks like NVIDIA is using "ARM Cortex-A15 Quad-core 28nm HPM Hard Macro" implementation of Cortex A15.
  • arooj799 - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - link

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  • pugster - Monday, January 7, 2013 - link

    It is interesting that the 5th core is an a15 though.
  • Auzo - Monday, January 7, 2013 - link

    I think you almost get the best of both worlds (synchronous vs asynchronous) with this. If ever I have a single threaded compute heavy task, i can run it on the companion core without having to ramp up all 4 of the other cores. While at the same time not needing all the additional hardware to have 4 independent power sources for asynch.
  • Auzo - Monday, January 7, 2013 - link

    Hmm... I'm not sure if this was the case with the Tegra 3 but it looks like for the T4 you can enable and disable each of the 4 cores independently so a single threaded compute heavy task could run fine on one of the main cores with the remaining 3 disabled. So not sure if what I said above really comes into play then.
  • Krysto - Monday, January 7, 2013 - link

    I wonder why Nvidia didn't just go with big.Little. The choice is a little strange compared to big.Little's Cortex A7 core(s). I mean even if it's low-locked (I assume, like Tegra 3 one was), does it consume less power than 2-4 Cortex A7's running at 1-1.2 Ghz? Or maybe they optimized slightly more for performance instead of energy efficiency at the "low-end"?

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