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Tegra 4 is most powerful mobile phone chip yet

The Nvidia Tegra 4 packs four cores, 4G and head-swimming graphics power to speed up the Web, gaming and video.

Mobile phones just got a whole heap more powerful. Announced at annual gadget-fest CES in Las Vegas, the Nvidia Tegra 4 packs four cores, 4G and head-swimming graphics power to speed up the Web, gaming and video.

The Tegra 4 chip sports four ARM Cortex-A15 CPU cores, with 72 GeForce GPU cores to handle graphics, giving it around six times the processing power of the current Tegra 3.

What does that mean for your blower? It means your Tegra 4-powered phone will perform simple everyday tasks in a blink of an eye, and fire up the extra power to speed up complex tasks such as dealing with fast-moving games and videos and complicated webpages.

The Tegra 4's extra grunt will also allow your phone to do even more complex things than it can now, adding clever new features to the camera, for example.

It includes a photography engine that will have you snapping faster, and speeding up those clever features like high dynamic range, so there's no delay while the chip compiles all the information recorded by the camera into one shot. The photography engine is built into the chip, so will work in any app, adding sparkle to your pictures whether you're using the standard camera or an app such as Instagram or Snapseed.

Also on the chip is a 4G LTE modem for faster Web connection. Here in Britain there's only one 4G network so far, although more will follow by summer. It shouldn't limit the number of phones that could use Tegra 4 on this side of the pond.

The big question is which new phones and devices will benefit from Tegra 4 power. To highlight the new chip, Nvidia also unveiled a bonkers new gaming handheld called Project Shield, pictured above, which plays Android games and streams games off your PC. Nvidia showed off the new chip's chops with a look at forthcoming zombie shooter Dead Trigger 2.

Will the Tegra 4 chip transform mobile phones? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page, and keep it CNET for the coolest gadgets and most powerful kit unleashed at CES.