Nvidia is reportedly working on an improved version of its very popular, but already semi-obsolete Tegra 3 mobile chips.
Tegra 3 was quite an unlucky and short-lived chip. While it performed very well and still does, it came into the market together with the ARM Cortex A15 designs.
Nvidia’s penta-core chip is a very innovative and well-performing chip. It has very low power feature for a chip its size and Nvidia practically delivered on everything it has promised about it.
The market of mobile chips moves much faster than the CPU or GPU market that Nvidia has been accustomed with. In a very short period of time they launched the Tegra 3, but while they were working on this 4+1 novel architecture, the other ARM player on the market was busy designing Cortex A15-based designs.
In the mobile software domain, and in the usual desktop PC domain for that matter, finding applications that can use four cores is quite difficult. Maybe because of the huge software diversity, the desktop PC side has a lot of practical examples, but in the Android world that doesn't happen too often.
The CortexA15 dual core design offers the same, if not more performance than Tegra 3, while not needing a special quad treading software optimization. Every single threaded or dual-threaded application will output a more smooth result on a Cortex A15 chip than on Nvidia’s Tegra 3 as we’ve already reported here.
This is exactly why Nvidia is trying hard to improve the performance of its Tegra 3 chip to keep the pace with the dual core Cortex A15 designs and to get better single-threaded performance.
Rumor has it that maybe only one of the cores inside the AP37 chip will be able to clock to the high 1.7 Ghz, but that would be a nice 14% speed improvement, if true.
The big step will be related to the GPU performance. Nvidia will probably clock its iGPU higher in the Tegra 3 chip and it’s shooting for a 25% performance increase.
Therefore, we can see that these improvements are highly interlinked. Nvidia wants a faster GPU, because many devices are now going to use Full HD screens, and the standard Tegra 3 is tailored only for the 1366 x 800 pixel resolution.
The AP37 will be made specifically to drive screens with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, or maybe even 1920 x 1200, but a faster GPU needs a tad faster CPU to really show that 25% improvement – hence Nvidia’s 1.7 GHz main CPU clock speed.