Nvidia: Tegra 3 Quad-Core Chip Beats Apple’s A5 Hands Down

Tablets and superphones are about to get a lot superer. Nvidia has spilled all the details on its newest mobile processor, the Tegra 3, which will provide up to 5 times the performance of the previous Tegra 2 chip. Some benchmarks are showing a huge improvement over Apple’s A5 processor. And because Tegra 3 is smart enough to only use the number of cores needed at any given time, the CPU is more power efficient.

The first device announced with this new chip is the ASUS Transformer Prime, a sequel to the Tegra 2-powered Eee Pad Transformer. Read on for more details and all the early test results, plus a video showing off this CPU’s gameplay prowess.


Also known as Kal-El, the Tegra 3 chip is a quad-core processor that uses a Variable SMP architecture to activate the four cores (plus a fifth lower-power companion core) to deliver power as needed, but throttle down to extend battery life. For example, when playing games, all four cores would be active.

When performing simpler tasks, only one or two of the cores might be used, and when listening to music or video, only the companion core would be active. According to Nvidia’s claims, the Tegra 3 processor will offer performance comparable to an Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 CPU, but still provide up to 12 hours of video playback. 

In addition to Shadowgun, seen above, Tegra 3-optimized games will include Bladeslinger, DaVinci THD, Chidori, and Big Top THD, with at least 15 Tegra 3-optimized games under development. More than 40 Tegra Zone games will be available by the end of 2011. Consumers will see things such as more realistic water modeling, as well as greater detail. 

Other benefits of Tegra 3 will include the ability to output 3D content, including games and movies, to a 3D monitor of TV via HDMI 1.4. As you can see, the benchmarks show that the Tegra 3 chip outperforms Apple’s A5 chip in Javascript tests like Sunspider and a much wider margin in Google’s V8 benchmark suite.

Nvidia also claims that the Tegra 3 chip will offer faster Web page load times as well as when performing tasks, such as video transcoding. The CPU outclasses the A5 chip in photo stitching, as well as competing chips from Qualcomm, TI, and Samsung.

Of course, Apple is probably hard at work on an A6 chip for the iPad 3, but at least for now it looks like Tegra 3 might be the performance champ.

Check out the gaming action below to see what this quad-core processor can handle. We can’t wait to give them a spin on the Transformer Prime.