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

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.