For Nvidia to get back in the smartphone race against Qualcomm, it needs a platform that's future proof. And that's exactly what the Tegra 4i promises. Shown here at CTIA 2013 in Las Vegas, the mobile processor with integrated LTE modem offered 150 Mbps data speeds during a demo, thanks to a software upgrade that supports Cat 4 LTE-Advanced technology.
Because it features a software-defined radio, Nvidia says its chip will be ready to battle Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 processor come Q1 2014. Plus, the Tegra 4i chip is 40 percent smaller than competing solutions, which should result in better efficiency and (hopefully) longer battery life.
Nvidia's demo consisted of its Phoenix reference design Android phone connected to an Anritsu terminal that measures throughput. Carriers won't be delivering 150 Mbps speeds, of course, but Tegra 4i will be ready for carrier aggregation of radio channels, which will in increase data rates while reducing latency.
Tegra 4i’s modem is multi-mode, which means it's backward compatible with LTE Cat 3 (up to 100 Mbps), 3G, and 2G. In other words, you won't be out of luck when you find yourself outside of LTE range.
Nvidia also showed us its Phoenix phone with Tegra 4i running on a live AT&T LTE network, including voice calls and video streaming. The device had a bit of trouble displaying videos in landscape mode at first, but Nvidia assured us this was due to early software.
The Tegra 4i platform has a chance to make some waves in the mobile market, but Q1 2014 is a long time from now. We look forward to seeing which smartphone makers Nvidia wins over.