Nvidia pushes 4G LTE compatible Tegra processors, puts pressure on Qualcomm

Nvidia pushes 4G LTE compatible Tegra processors, puts pressure on Qualcomm

Summary: Now that AT&T has approved the HTC One X+, the first 4G LTE-compatible smartphone powered by the Tegra 3 processor, Nvidia is now in the perfect position to put pressure on Qualcomm and its Snapdagon S4 processors.


AT&T becomes the first U.S. carrier to approve an Nvidia Tegra 3-powered smartphone with 4G LTE support for its network.

The goal of mobile processor makers is to bring as much of the functionality of the smartphone or tablet onto a single piece of silicon. It makes sense because it means that fewer separate components are needed, reducing costs and power consumption, and allowing manufacturers to keep shrinking the device.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 processors enjoy integrated LTE support, while Nvidia had to rely on third-party LTE modems, usually Qualcomm parts. However, Nvidia's acquisition of soft modem chipset maker Icera showed that the company was serious about getting into the 4G LTE.

HTC's One X+ Android smartphone becomes the first Tegra 3 quad-core smartphone with 4G LTE capability in the U.S., and according to Nvidia's figures, this smartphone is 67 percent faster than its predecessor, the HTC One X LTE, a smartphone powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon dual-core processor.

While this Icera LTE modem is a separate component, Nvidia has new processors -- codenamed "Wayne" -- in the pipeline for next year that will have integrated Icera 410 LTE modems. Integration of the modem with the processor will simplify manufacturer's production lines, keeping costs down.

And Nvidia isn't planning to stand still either, with plans to integrate the more advanced Icera 500 LTE modem into future mobile processors.

Nvidia now represents a real threat to Qualcomm, because the LTE support, combined with the Tegra 3's superior graphic capabilities puts Snapdragon -- even the high-end Qualcomm S4 Pro -- on the back foot. This, combined with the fact that Nvidia expects Tegra shipments to double during 2012, puts the company in very a strong position to grab a lot of the smartphone and tablet market action.

Image source: Nvidia.

Topics: Smartphones, Android, Hardware, Mobility, Processors

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • grammar correction

    The goal of mobile processor makers is to bring as much of ... onto a single piece of silicon => "as possible."
    Brian Croner
  • integrated LTE

    is a large part of Qualcomm's $100B cap. Most street analysts think NVidia is tied to the woes of the PC market. Besides Smartphone and Tablet wins, Tegra is in the Audi A4 and certainly many more slots I don't know about.
  • Qualcomm way ahead of nvidia

    Nvidia threatening Qualcomm is a joke right? Nvidia chose to stay with 40nm production technology because they thought they will have better production yield.
    And instead of advancing their core designs from the Cortex-A9 that was top of the line back in 2011, Nvidia chose to just add extra cores to their processors and overclocking them all the while ignoring LTE. Nvidia has not come close to taking advantage of the yields from 40nm production that they thought they would need in 2012.
    Qualcomm went with 28nm technology, advanced their core design for 2012 and integrated LTE onto the SOC. Qualcomm as a result has succeeded in winning most of the high end smartphone designs for USA in 2012.
    The momentum Qualcomm has gained will be hard for Nvidia to reverse.
    I look forward to benchmark comparisons between the Tegra 3+ and the APQ8064. I doubt that the Tegra 3+ will be better than the S4 Pro APQ8064 but I'll look at the benchmark comparisons to confirm the same. So far in benchmark comparisons, the dual core S4 has competed well against the quad core Tegra 3; performancewise it has been very close. I'd be surprised if the quad core version of S4 comes up short against an overclocked version of the Tegra 3 (the so called Tegra 3+).
  • As good as the big guy?

    I just want to give a shout out to AT&T a lot of folks bust their chops but their 4GLTe is amazing on this phone. I've got a hair salon in NYC, and I "let" my client surf for styles online when we're in the consulting stage. I wouldn't do that with a slower network.
    Margie Dempsey