Design cycle of 18 months to blame
Nvidia has a working prototype of Phoenix, its first reference phone design based on its first LTE chip. The chip codenamed Grey is now known as Tegra 4i. Nvidia not only has a working chip, it also has phone prototypes that it was showing around at MWC.
The bad thing for end users is that Grey, Nvidia Tegra 4i phones are not going to hit the market before late 2013, probably sometime in Q4 2013 at the earliest. You can blame the slow phone design cycle that usually takes 18 month. Tegra 4i will probably live through a good part of 2014. By 2014 Nvidia is expected to have its first high end chip with LTE codename Logan that can easily end up with Tegra 5 branding.
It turns out that Nvidia will get Grey Tegra 4i phones faster to market than the usual 18 months, the usual time it takes to design and build a smartphone. Then again Tegra 4i phones are still more than six months away. Tegra 4i is a big step for Nvidia as having LTE integrated on the chip saves some battery power, saves the design cost, saves a space on the phone motherboard and it becomes mandatory for many phone manufacturers.
Nvidia is making a lot of noise at the Mobile World Congress, especially touting the good performance of Tegra 4 against the competition but again there is a bitter aftertaste that things could have been much better for Nvidia had this chip been ready in late Q4 2012, as it was originally planned.
With such a roadmap Nvidia is on a good track to grow its Tegra business in the future, and let’s hope that there won’t be any additional unexpected delays down the road.