4 plus 1

Formerly known as a quad-core system with a fifth low power companion core, or vSMP, NVIDIA has just put out the word that its new Tegra 3 architecture will be known as "4-PLUS-1". (We were kind of partial to Ninja Core ourselves.)

It's the same four-core Cortex A9 system on chip that we talked about a while ago, it's still just as fast, and still goes easy on your battery. It just has a hip new name that's nice and easy to say while being descriptive about what's going on under the hood. We love hardware vendors who make things easier on us. NVIDIA, which is trademarking the 4-PLUS-1 moniker, says it needed a user-friendly name after getting some customer feedback. Makes sense, and 4-PLUS-1 will certainly look good on a box that holds the next hot tablet we all lust after.

The Tegra 3 chip uses the fifth core in a unique way -- it's active when not a lot of CPU power is needed, and handles things in the background like checking for new mail and watching video. This leaves the other four high-performance cores ready to kick in when needed, and uses much less juice from your battery while they are idle. It's unique, and it's great to see anyone doing things that give us a longer time between charges. One thing we're sure of, is that when all four of the high-speed cores are going, that sucker is fast. They're updated their white paper about the Tegra 3, and you can find it right here.

Also of interest, they also let us know that we'll be hearing the 4-PLUS-1 name quite a bit at Mobile World Congress next week. We've heard rumors of devices from HTC and others using the Tegra 3 platform, and we're sure that we'll see more starting Sunday in Barcelona. Phil and Alex will be spending the week there, so we'll keep you guys on top of everything 4-PLUS-1 related, as well as all the other news.

Source: NVIDIA


Reader comments

NVIDIA dubs its Tegra 3 architecture 4-PLUS-1, hints at a big MWC presence


While I do see a benefit of the 4+1 Tegra 3 cores, but it doesn't seem as dramatic as NVIDIA wants us to believe...

This is not new, nor is it unique. ARM announced something nearly identical way back in October in the form of their big.LITTLE architecture that utilizes an A15 multicore chip with an A7 companion chip. TI, Samsung, ST-Ericsson, Freescale, and Marvell also have processors lined up with similar features that are based on ARM's architecture.

Frankly, while NVIDIA's implementation is here first, all of the version's based around the A7 chip will be superior due to the much more advanced A15 main core. It should tell you something that some of the biggest names in chip design (including Samsung and a future Exynos) have chosen ARM's version.

Probably because nVidia has more design resources and was willing to use it to get to market faster...the others were probably happy w/ what they were going to get from ARM and their schedule.

Assuming Tegra 3 phones really do ship in March (I'm not holding my breath given last year's 6 month delay from announce to ship of most MWC phones), they'll probably have a 6 month market advantage for quad core phones which is pretty significant in terms of revenue and mind share...I doubt any Snapdragon quad phones will ship until September, just in time to get killed by the iphone 5 :-P

The public really won't care about quad core until Apple starts bragging about it with the next iPhone. That's reality.

Phones are reaching the point where internal specs really don't matter all that much.

Here's what I think the public will care about: slimness, screen quality, OS functionality (how cool the OS is...or rather looks), battery life. The rest is noise to them.

The S4 doesn't need four cores to keep up with Tegra3. (yes, its that good) Same goes for the A7 and TI's OMAP 5. (based around A15)

Frankly, even though it may have been a wise short-term business decision, its going to cost them in the long run. The Tegra 3 will have a shorter shelf life than the Tegra 2, all thanks to those A9 cores.

I seriously hope battery life can keep up. That's what's killing Android right now.

People say it's upgrades. It's not. The majority of the public doesn't know they aren't getting upgrades. They do know that their phones don't make it through a work day.

I have a G2X with the Tegra2 and with PhoenixBlood + Faux kernel OC'd to 1.2 Ghz I have NO problem going 16 hours on a charge. That's with an hour or so of phone calls, texting throughout the day and playing some BS games on the train and/or web browsing to kill the time for about 30 - 45 minutes. When at work I'm on WIFI or if I am someplace where WIFI is not available I just force the data to EDGE as opposed to having the 4G antenna cooking.

All well and good, but you (and I) are vastly in the minority for being willing to flash different roms, kernels and tinker with our phones. Most people, who simply buy a phone from a carrier and use it as-is won't get through a day.

Every phone I've had, bone stock, would barely make it through a phone with modest use. Every phone I've run a clean OS and a tweaked kernel on easily makes 2 days on a charge. So battery life is definitely an issue, and anything that can help it is important. Carriers aren't going to forgo loading all kinds of crap on phones so long as they're subsidizing the price, so for now it comes down to an efficient CPU.