LTE Modems Make Nvidia’s Tegra K1 Expensive for Smartphones, Could See Success in Tablets

June 17, 2014 - Written By Tom Dawson


There’s no denying that Nvidia know what they’re doing when it comes to performance processors. After all, their graphics cards have been providing PC gamers with some of the best graphics for years now. Nvidia no longer just focus on graphics cards though, and their mobile arm has grown from delivering chips in obscure devices like Microsoft’s Zune to delivering excellent graphics performance in tablets and even games consoles running Android. Still, this hasn’t helped Nvidia break into smartphones, as their Tegra 4i program faltered, resulting in very few partners, with the only notable one being LG for their G2 Mini. Recently, we heard that Nvidia was to stop focusing on the smartphone market and instead turn their attention to what they were good at in the mobile space; tablets.

Now though, there’s rumor that the graphics card giant could well be thinking about getting into the smartphone market with high-end, performance focused models. The main reason that Nvidia’s chips aren’t used in smartphones is due to their higher-cost. While Qualcomm offer a modem built into chips like the Snapdragon 801, Nvidia’s Tegra K1 – regardless of which version, the 32-bit or 64-bit dual-core version – requires an ICERA modem, which makes the overall cost for a Tegra K1 more expensive. Besides, Qualcomm has become a big name when it comes to 4G LTE, making Nvidia chips a hard sell to manufacturers and an even harder sell to networks.

While smartphones are still up in the air for Nvidia, tablets might be where we start to see more of the Tegra name, just as we did with the Tegra 3 and Tegra 4 chips. Nvidia’s Tegra K1 is at the heart of Chinese giant Xiaomi’s first tablet, the MiPad, and with rumors that Nvidia could find themselves at the heart of the new Kindle Fire, we shouldn’t be ruling Nvidia out on the mobile front just yet.