Difference Between NVIDIA Tegra3 and TI OMAP4460

NVIDIA Tegra3 vs TI OMAP4460
 

This article compares two recent Multi Processor System-on-Chips (MPSoCs); NVIDIA Tegra3 and TI OMAP4460 deployed in consumer electronics. In simple terms, MPSoC is a computer with multiple processors on a single integrated circuit (aka chip). Technically, MPSoC is an IC that integrates typical components on a computer (such as microprocessor, memory, input/output) and other systems that cater electronic and radio functionalities. Both NVIDIA Tegra3 and TI OMAP4460 were released to the market in the last quarter of 2011.

Typically, the major components of an MPSoC are its CPU (Central Processing Unit) and GPU (Graphics Processing Unit). The CPUs in NVIDIA Tegra3 and TI OMAP4460 are based on ARM’s (Advanced RICS – Reduced Instruction Set Computer – Machine, developed by ARM Holdings) v7 ISA (Instruction Set Architecture, the one that is used as the starting place of designing a processor) of 32bit data size.

NVIDIA Tegra3 (Series)

NVIDIA, originally a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) manufacturing company [claimed to have invented GPUs in the late nineties] have recently moved into the mobile computing market, where NVIDIA’s System on Chips (SoC) are deployed in phones, tablets, and other handheld devices. Tegra is a SoC series developed by NVIDIA targeting deployment in the mobile market. The first MPSoC in Tegra3 series was released in early November 2011 and upgraded versions were released in the first and second quarter of 2012. The Tegra3 series MPSoCs are deployed in many consumer devices ranging from ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime to Google Nexus 7.

NVIDIA claimed that Tegra3 is the first mobile super processor, for the first time putting together quad core ARM Cotex-A9 architecture. Although Tegra3 has four (and therefore quad) ARM Cotex-A9 cores as its main CPU, it has an auxiliary ARM Cotex-A9 core (named the companion core) which is identical in architecture to the others, but is etched on a low power fabric and is clocked at a very low frequency. In its original release, while the main cores can be clocked at 1.3GHz (when all four cores are active) to 1.4GHz (when only one of the four cores is active), the auxiliary core is clocked at 500MHz. The upgraded releases supported faster clock rates. The target of the auxiliary core is to run background processes when the device is in standby mode and, therefore, saving power. The GPU used in Tegra3 is NVIDIA’s GeForce which has 12 cores packed into it. Tegra3 has both L1 cache and L2 cache that is similar to that of Tergra2, and it allows packing of up to 2GB DDR2 RAM.

TI OMAP4460

OMAP4460 was released in the fourth quarter of 2011 and according to PDAdb.net it was first deployed in Archos’s ninth generation tablet PCs. It is the MPSoC of choice for the Samsung/Google’s Galaxy Nexus smart phone manufactured by Samsung for Google. The CPU used in OMAP4460 is ARM’s dual core Cotex A9 architecture and the GPU used was PowerVR’s SGX540. In OMAP4460, the CPU is clocked at 1.2GHz-1.5GHz, and the GPU is clocked at 384MHz (a relatively very high frequency compared to the clocking of the same GPU in other SoCs where SGX540 was deployed). The chip was packed with both L1 and L2 cache hierarchies in its dual core CPU and is packaged with a 1GB DDR2 low power RAM.

Comparison between NVIDIA Tegra3 and TI OMAP4460

 

Tegra 3 Series

TI OMAP 4460

Release Date

Q4, 2011

Q4, 2011

Type

MPSoC

MPSoC

First Device

Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime

Archos 80 G9

Other Devices

Google Nexus 7

Google Galaxy Nexus Phone

ISA

ARM v7 (32bit)

ARM v7 (32bit)

CPU

ARM Cortex-A9 (Quad Core)

ARM Cotex A9 (Dual Core)

CPU’s Clock Speed

Single Core – up to 1.4 GHz

Four Cores – up to 1.3 GHz

Companion Core – 500 MHz

1.2GHz-1.5GHz

GPU

NVIDIA GeForce (12 cores)

PowerVR SGX540

GPU’s Clock Speed

520MHz

384MHz

CPU/GPU Technology

TSMC’s 40nm

45nm

L1 Cache

32kB instruction, 32kB data

(for each CPU core)

32kB instruction, 32kB data

(per each CPU core)

L2 Cache

1MB

 (shared among all CPU cores)

1MB

 (shared among all CPU cores)

Memory

Up to 2GB DDR2

1GB

Summary

In summary, NVIDIA, in the name of Tegra 3 series, has come out with an MPSoC with high potentials. It obviously outperforms both in computing power and graphics performance. The idea of a companion core is very neat as it can be put to high use for mobile devices as such devices are in standby mode more often than not and they are expected to run background tasks. Some can argue that the expensive, low power fabric used in the companion core can burden the users.  However, within a year, with proper upgrades NVIDIA has enabled many consumer devices to use its Tegra3 MPSoCs and the number of devices adapting Tegra3 is growing as we speak.