At CTIA in Las Vegas, chipmaker NVIDIA has taken the opportunity to showcase the LTE capabilities of its upcoming Tegra 4i SoC, its mobile processor designed for mainstream smartphones. Announced back in February, Tegra 4i includes an integrated NVIDIA i500 LTE modem — the new “soft modem” that can be reprogrammed over-the-air.
The CTIA demo we sat through saw Tegra 4i bumped from Cat 3 LTE (100Mbps) up to Cat 4 (150Mbps) with only a software update. In testing, the NVIDIA Phoenix reference phone was used in conjunction with an LTE testing unit designed to emulate a Cat 4 network. So we’re not dealing with real-world radio conditions here, but it does show the potential of NVIDIA’s new software-defined radios, as new hardware would usually be required for a jump between radio standards.
For what it’s worth, we also watched Phoenix dutifully connected to AT&T’s LTE network, which it was able to use to stream video and make voice calls, though the latter bumps down to 3G because no U.S. carrier has turned on Voice Over LTE yet.
There’s still no sign of any consumer devices running Tegra 4i – these aren’t expected until early 2014. And real-world Cat 4 LTE networks are essentially non-existent at this point. Nevertheless, NVIDIA is ready, as is its programmable LTE modem.