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Tegra 4i processor: small, fast and made for smartphones

Nvidia hopes to challenge Qualcomm in the smartphone space with its Tegra 4i chipset.

Nvidia hopes to challenge Qualcomm in the smartphone space with its Tegra 4i chipset.

The Tegra 4i.(Credit: Nvidia)

It's no secret that flagship phones are getting faster and faster as processor speeds previously only seen in the likes of tablets make their way onto smartphones.

At the moment, the market is mostly dominated by Qualcomm and the Snapdragon series of processors, but Nvidia hope that the Tegra 4i will change this by opening up the lower end of the smartphone market.

The Tegra 4i has an integrated LTE modem, letting Nvidia make the chip smaller and presumably, with a lower power draw. Previously, the need for a separate LTE modem has hampered the battery life of phones. By integrating the modem and adding a so-called "fifth battery-saver core", the Tegra 4i should remain power efficient even in lower-end end phones.

Power remains impressive despite the shift to 28 nanometre processing, with the company confidant that the quad-core 4i can deliver processor speeds of 2.3GHz. Nvidia said that the chip could support full HD video playback on a 5-inch screen. The chipset is equipped with 60 GPU cores, the same as the Tegra 4, and five times that of the Tegra 3.

The Tegra 4i won't be available until the end of 2013, initially in smartphones that aren't already using the Tegra 4, but Nvidia conceded that the processor design might see its way into cheaper tablets as well.

With Mobile World Congress coming up, we'd expect to see a few handset announcements regarding manufacturer partnerships with the Tegra 4i.