Perhaps the biggest attraction of CES 2013 was Nvidia’s Tegra 4 mobile CPU, which combines 4-ARM Cortex A15 cores, plus a phantom core for low power tasks and 72-core GPU. DigiTimes is reporting that the Tegra 4 could find its way in a number of Windows RT tablets that are released in 2013, including the next Surface RT tablet made by Microsoft. Also Read - Nintendo Direct E3 2021: Metroid Dread, Mario Party Superstars, a new Legend of Zelda and more
On the face of it, this claim seems very plausible considering Microsoft opted for the Tegra 3 to power the first generation Surface RT tablet. Additionally, the massive performance strides that Nvidia has made with Tegra 4 include six times GPU performance, a more powerful, yet frugal CPU, a software configurable LTE stack and support for 4K resolutions. Also Read - Windows 11 leaked online: Centralised start menu, revamped UI, new widgets, here's what to expect
That said, it will be interesting to see what CPU Windows RT OEMs opt for when they make their tablets including Microsoft, considering the tepid response received by the Tegra 3 powered tablets. The Surface RT notably has been notorious for its slow performance in the desktop mode and the battery life too has not exactly set the world on fire, and this is happening in market where the iPad manages to churn a higher resolution display, LTE and higher battery life. Also Read - Forza Horizon 5 available for pre-orders: Price in India, editions and more
Partially, this problem has been due to the lack of support in Windows RT for Nvidia’s 4-plus-1 CPU architecture, as the OS is not making use of the phantom core for low-power tasks. Now, we don’t know if the Tegra 4 solves this problem in any way, or Microsoft plans on adding support for this particular architecture. But if this does not happen then Tegra 4 will remain at a disadvantage when compared to other ARM architectures.
Additionally, Qualcomm also has competing chipsets that will have comparable if not better performance to the Tegra 4 and Qualcomm chipsets have also had lower thermal footprint, which almost always converts to better battery life. The Qualcomm chipsets even have an integrated LTE solution in its system-on-chip (SoC), while Nvidia’s Tegra 4 is still dependent on a separate stack which also is being made by Nvidia thanks to its Icera acquisition.
We have already seen Samsung drop plans for its Windows RT tablets in the US, as Intel’s new CloverTrail chips have provided comparable performance and battery life to their ARM counterparts without dropping support for legacy x86 applications.
So far we have only seen two Tegra 4 products at CES – the Project Shield gaming handheld from Nvidia and a Vizio tablet, which matches the 2560×1600 pixel resolution of the Samsung Nexus 10. Looks like we have interesting days ahead.