Tegra 4 GPU Specs Disappoint, Nvidia in Defensive Mode
Nvidia caused a lot of waves with their Sunday announcement of Tegra 4 SoC, Project Shield mobile gaming console and GeForce GRID cloud gaming platform. However, for the second time in a row, some analysts and embed customers are not impressed. For that, we need to look into several answers we got from Nvidia.
However, after all is said and done, Tegra 4 might have an Achilee's heel in the making. While the company representatives often stated that Tegra 3 competitiveness was stifled by the lack of 4G LTE supporting hardware (HTC One X+ 4G LTE smartphone combines Tegra 3 and Intel/ex-Infineon baseband chip), Tegra 4 might be suffering from another issue: lack of API support. Back in 2010, when Nvidia disclosed its roadmap for the future, it was stated that the desktop architectures will move inside Tegra as well, and that future parts such as Wayne (T40, Tegra 4) and Logan ("Wolverine", T50, Tegra 5) will offer computational capabilities.
To put this answer in perspective, Nvidia - a company almost always known for innovation in the desktop and mobile computing space - does not consider that API's such as OpenCL and its own CUDA are important for ultra-efficient computing. This attitude already resulted in a substantial design win turn sour, as the company was thrown out of BMW Group, a year and a few quarters after it triumphantly pushed Intel out of BMW's structure. According to our contacts close to heart of the matter, OpenCL was the reason why Nvidia "is out".
Witnessing that the company does not believe in CUDA (currently), does not believe in OpenCL (currently) and furthermore, has an issue with believing in success of Windows RT / Windows 8 as it does not support DirectX higher than 9. This will probably end up being painfully exposed through next-generation cross-platform benchmarks from Futuremark (next-gen 3DMark is cross-platform: WinRT/8, Android, iOS) and Rightware (Basemark X), all coming out in the upcoming weeks.
Too bad for Nvidia, as Tegra 4 could have been a 1-2-3 punch for its competitors, tired of Qualcomm's inability to deliver functional Windows RT drivers (just ask HP and others how they feel about their Qualcomm-based RT tablets and the R&D money blown on getting that hardware/software to work).
From the looks of it, Tegra 4 looks to be a great design product for Google Android smartphones and tablets. Windows RT and automotive/embedded markets on the other hand... obviously the company will have to limit damage there.