Nvidia's Tegra 4 will make for the fastest mobile phones yet, if we're to believe benchmarks Nvidia has showed us. The march of processor speeds always continues, of course, but these results were impressive, crushing the most popular smartphones in the market by a long shot.
Nvidia showed off the Tegra 4's power on a trio of tablets loaded with a bunch of standard benchmarks and a web browser, and invited us to run the benchmarks for ourselves. So we did. The platform clearly isn't ready for retail yet, though; it's all naked developer kits and reference designs.
At one station, Nvidia showed how the Tegra 4 uses relatively little power when doing common tasks like playing music and videos; that's because those applications use the Tegra's low-power "companion core" rather than cranking its four more powerful cores. It's a good point, but to see how battery life really fares, we'll have to see it in final phones with radios and screens.
Nvidia also showed off its "Phoenix" reference design for its Tegra 4i chipset, which promises to power lower-cost smartphones in late 2013 and early 2014 with its built-in modem. Right now, Phoenix is a blocky slab phone, nothing much to write home about, but it plays Real Boxing. That's about it. This product is so far from release that it's difficult to say how well it'll work when it's done.
Tegra 4: Really Fast
OK, so about those benchmarks: the Tegra 4 eradicated every current generation phone on the US market we've tested. That's almost to be expected, as Tegra 4 is the next generation past the Tegra 3 and Qualcomm S4 chips we're seeing in phones today.
How about the iPhone 5? Apple's A6 processor is speedy to be sure, but the Tegra 4 nuked it. When we benchmarked the iPhone 5 we got 1640 on Geekbench and 27 fps on GLBenchmark's Egypt HD offscreen benchmark, which tests graphics power. The Tegra 4 scores 4148 on Geekbench and 57 fps on the Egypt HD.
The chart below shows Tegra 4 versus some other really fast or popular phones we've tested. "N/A" means we didn't run that test on that phone (usually because there's been a major version change in the benchmark since we tested the phone in question.)
Of course, the competition isn't standing still. Qualcomm is countering the Tegra 4 with its Snapdragon 800, which the company claims is even faster than the Tegra 4. Samsung is readying the Exynos 5 Octa. Neither of those companies have let us run our usual benchmarks on their devices yet, but we can expect that they'll give the Tegra 4 a run for its money.
The first hint we've seen of Qualcomm's new generation comes in some benchmarks done on the HTC One, which uses Qualcomm's new 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 chipset - not the 800, but the next notch down. The Tegra 4 still destroys it.
Tegra 4 is first coming in Nvidia's Project Shield gaming handheld this spring, followed by phones and tablets later this year. Tegra 4i will come to mobile phones late in 2013.
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