Developed by Nvidia, Tegra is a system on a chip (SoC) series for mobile gadgets, such as smartphones and tablets. The Tegra is basically an ARM-based CPU which combines Nvidia’s own GeForce graphics processing unit (GPU) to form a single, unified package. It is designed with emphasis on low power consumption and high performance for media playback in mind.
Tegra only really began taking off in 2010, when Nvidia introduced the Tegra 2, the world’s first mobile dual-core processor, which in turn saw it being given a 3D facelift in the form of the Tegra 2 3D, supporting 3D displays.
Fast forward a year later to 2011, Nvidia unveiled its much hyped Tegra 3 processor, the world’s first quad-core chip designed to work on mobile devices. The company claims that the Tegra 3 offers three times the performance of its previous dual-core Tegra generation, featuring improved multitasking, a better web browsing experience, and smoother app performance. The new chip first made its appearance in the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime, making it the most powerful tablet on the market at launch.
Even if Nvidia’s competitors will soon catch up to the Tegra, the chipset’s primary advantage has always been its native support for mobile game development - currently, the Android market is populated with games which support only the use of Tegra SoCs. Due to Nvidia’s close relationship with developers in providing the necessary tools for such software, other ARM chips are left out of the loop, even though they may technically have the processing power to run them.
Tegra’s continuous efforts to attain PC-like processing speeds and visual quality on mobile devices mean that they are able to jump and are currently ahead of the pack in this regard. The downside to this is the segmentation that takes place, putting non-Tegra devices at a disadvantage.