Nvidia has formally introduced its Project Grey chip
, which is officially known as the Tegra 4i. Marketed as a superior alternative to Qualcomm's Snapdragon offerings, which have proved extremely popular in the smartphone market, the new chip brings a much smaller footprint than the current Tegra 4 SoC while adding an integrated LTE modem.
Tegra 4i is based on four CPU cores running at 2.3GHz and based on the latest revision of ARM's Cortex-A9 architecture, in contrast to the Cortex-A15 architecture used in the standard Tegra 4. ARM suggests the companies worked together to optimize the A9 implementation for improved performance, efficiency and responsiveness, though NVIDIA's own SpecInt tests show that the 4i's raw performance is still below its A15-based counterpart.
Both the Tegra 4 and 4i share the same GPU architecture, though the latter chip steps down from 72 to 60 GPU cores. Another common feature includes Chimera photography processing, enabling tap-to-track and HDR panoramas.
Nvidia first introduced its i500 LTE modem at CES, though it was shown as a separate component that could be used in conjunction with the Tegra 4 chip. The modem represents one of Nvidia's latest products to take advantage of technology pioneered by Icera, the British chip designer that was acquired by Nvidia in 2011. Icera's soft-modem technology is claimed to improve efficiency and enable hardware makers to support a wide range of frequency bands without redesigning or replacing the modem.
The company is preparing to show off its Phoenix reference hardware for the Tegra 4i next week at Mobile World Congress.