CES 2013: Nvidia launches Tegra 4 SoC

Nvidia made an early impact on CES with a feature-packed presentation from CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang. As expected the biggest news was the formal launch of Nvidia’s Tegra 4 mobile SoC, and it looks set to move the mobile device game on once more.

The Tegra 3 SoC powered some of the flagship smartphones and tablets last year, and it’s likely that the Tegra 4 will follow a similar path in 2013. The Tegra 4 provides the first quad-core Cortex-A15 CPU hardware along with Nvidia’s second-generation battery saving core. The latter allows the phone to tick over without using the main cores, thus extending battery life.

The headline number, however, goes to the GPU cores, of which there are 72 – that’s a pretty healthy jump from the 12 GPU cores that Tegra 3 brought to the table. This enhanced graphics power opens the door for some impressive gaming performance as was made clear by a demonstration of Dead Trigger 2.

Another impressive demonstration was Tegra 4 processing a 4K video stream without the hint of stuttering or a dropped frame.

Huang also showed how the combined CPU and GPU power can lead to major improvements to the photographic ability of a Tegra 4 equipped device. While HDR shooting isn’t new, Tegra 4 allows for instantaneous HDR. Two pictures are taken simultaneously and processed within a second, meaning that HDR can be used on moving subjects and even with the flash employed.

So impressive is Tegra 4’s ability to process HDR that Nvidia showed a tablet processing HDR in real-time by simply swiping across the screen.

The final piece of the Tegra 4 puzzle is a new 4G LTE chipset, the Nvidia Icera i500. The i500 is a programmable soft modem that’s less than half the size of a conventional modem.

Expect to see a raft of mobile devices based on the Tegra 4 over the coming months, and with all that extra power, we’ll probably see screen resolutions climbing even higher