Did NVIDIA say it would stick to one new mobile processor design per year? If so, it's not worried about its own rules: meet the Tegra 4i. The 4-plus-1 chip formerly known as Project Grey is a Tegra 4 mostly in name, and goes for integration rather than raw power. It sheds the newer Cortex-A15 architecture of the Tegra 4 for a spruced-up 2.3GHz Cortex-A9 with the i500 LTE modem built directly into the chip die -- a move that cuts the surface area in half and simplifies the hardware, even as it supposedly outruns equivalent competition. The design is more than just an overclocked Tegra 3 with 4G inside, though. The 4i touts 60 graphics cores versus the 12 of its ancestor, and inherits the high dynamic range photography and video engine of the Tegra 4. NVIDIA is demonstrating the 4i's chops through the Phoenix (pictured above), a 5-inch, 1080p reference Android smartphone that builders can use as a starting point. There's no immediate customers mentioned for the CPU, although we suspect those are coming soon.
Speaking of that camera technology, NVIDIA has also given it a name. Chimera, as it's now called, isn't just about making HDR available for every photo and video. The mix of CPU and GPU processing can capture HDR panorama shots without requiring a single-direction sweep, letting a would-be Ansel Adams 'paint' the panorama out of order. The autofocusing engine is also smart enough to include subject tracking with an exposure lock. Both 8-megapixel Aptina and 13-megapixel Sony camera sensors can already support Chimera, which gives us a clue as to just what imaging we can expect with the first batch of Tegra 4 and 4i devices.