Review: NVidia's Tegra 3 quad-core processor


NVidia recently unveiled its Tegra 3 quad-core processor which was previously known as Kal-El for Smartphone, Personal Digital Assistants and mobile internet devices. It integrates quad core ARM architecture processors which is a 32 bit reduced instruction set computer (RISC), central processing unit, 12 core GeForce Graphics Processing Unit, Northbridge and Southbridge support and memory controller in one single package.

NVIDIA Quad-Core Tegra 3
NVIDIA Quad-Core Tegra 3

Pricing and availability:

Tegra 3's is the world’s first quad core mobile processor and it is not available till date as NVidia is busy refining the processor. But by the end of 2011, we can get devices powered by Tegra 3 such as Asus Eee Pad which will cost around $500.

What’s great?

The Tegra 3’s design is unique and innovative and first of its kind in the industry. It has implemented four ARM Cortex A9 in its chip to give maximum performance boost to the users. Today all the other companies are trying to improve the performance on their dual core processors by increasing the clock frequency whereas NVidia has unveiled quad core based processors and will be officially available in the market from the end of 2011. These four cores can run individually at 1.4GHz frequency and if there is more than one core active then they are able to run at 1.3GHz. Each core is power gated and can be selected. This improves the power consumption as well as efficiency. Tegra 3 will show its true performance for all these applications those are able to use all the four cores together. Apart from these four cores, there is one more core present which can run at maximum speed of 500MHz. This fifth processor will help to run the background processes.

Tegra 3 also has 8 pixel shaders and 4 vertical shaders and all together 12 GeForce shaders, which is much higher than the competition has to offer. Also, all the GPU cores can run at more than 400MHz which gives a performance boost upto 10% from the current dual core based processors. Tegra 3 also supports NVidia 3D and Stereoscopic 3D which will enable the users to play games on 3D. Even there are few developers are currently developing such games for Tegra 3 processor. Tegra 3 is created for Smartphones and alike, but NVidia is also aiming the console market with this processor. It can also play HD video and support 7.1 channel HD audio which is a great news for many. Tegra 3 has also changed the memory architecture so it can support DDR3-L at 1500MHz rate. Also, there is a great news for gamers who like to play their Android based games in a big screen as Tegra 3 also supports this integration and one can play the mobile games on a big screen using PS3 or Xbox 360 controllers. Currently, 40 games are in development to harness the Tegra 3 performance.

According to NVidia, Tegra 3 is almost 3 times graphics faster with almost 60% lower power consumption. For games, web page loading, photo editing and the four main cores will be used whereas to listen music, watching pictures or videos, the fifth core will be used and this transition is automatic. Through this kind of architecture NVidia is able to make Tegra 3 consume less power.

What’s not so great?

Tegra 3 architecture is pioneering and impressive but still it has few concerns as well. To get a true 3D experience, it should support 64bit computing but Tegra 3 still supports 32 bit computing. Also, there are other alternatives in the market which have the capability but they are based on dual core. But we can expect an improvement in the next version of Tegra 3 which is slated to release in 2013.

Things to watch out for:

With the coming of Tegra 3, mobile game developers and 3D industry has become very cheerful as most of them are rejoicing the facts of higher texture, higher game depth of graphics and 3D capability. Also, all the games developed for Tegra 3 can be played in HD TV with great resolution. Asus is the first one which is using Tegra 3 Processor for its Eee Pad and it's very confident about the major performance boost and a unique feature rich experience to its users.


Tegra 3 is the most interesting news in the mobile device industry currently and one can be ensured of quality from this industry giant. But Tegra 3 isn’t the last word as NVidia also worked on its next version of Tegra 3 named as Wayne Series, Gray Series and Logan Series. Also, by the year end we can get more devices powered by Tegra 3, Amazon’s Kindle is one of them.

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