NVIDIA Tegra 2 vs. NVIDIA Tegra 3

What's the Difference?

NVIDIA Tegra 2 and NVIDIA Tegra 3 are both mobile system-on-a-chip (SoC) processors developed by NVIDIA. However, there are some key differences between the two. Tegra 2 was released in 2011 and was the first dual-core processor from NVIDIA, offering improved performance and power efficiency compared to its predecessors. On the other hand, Tegra 3, released in 2012, introduced quad-core processing, providing even greater performance and enhanced multitasking capabilities. Tegra 3 also featured a fifth "companion" core, known as the "Ninja Core," which was designed to handle less demanding tasks and conserve power. Overall, Tegra 3 offered a significant improvement in performance and power efficiency over Tegra 2, making it a more advanced and capable processor for mobile devices.


AttributeNVIDIA Tegra 2NVIDIA Tegra 3
ProcessorDual-core ARM Cortex-A9Quad-core ARM Cortex-A9
GraphicsULP GeForceULP GeForce
Manufacturing Process40nm40nm
Maximum Clock Speed1.2 GHz1.4 GHz
Memory SupportLPDDR2LPDDR3
Maximum Display Resolution1920x12002560x1600
Camera SupportUp to 12 MPUp to 21 MP
Video Playback1080p1080p
Wireless ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11n, Bluetooth 3.0Wi-Fi 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0

Further Detail


NVIDIA, a leading technology company, has been at the forefront of developing powerful mobile processors. Two of their notable offerings are the NVIDIA Tegra 2 and NVIDIA Tegra 3. These processors have played a significant role in shaping the mobile computing landscape. In this article, we will compare the attributes of these two processors, highlighting their differences and similarities.


The NVIDIA Tegra 2, released in 2011, was based on a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU architecture. It featured a clock speed of up to 1.2 GHz and was manufactured using a 40nm process. This architecture provided a significant boost in performance compared to its predecessors, enabling smooth multitasking and enhanced multimedia capabilities.

On the other hand, the NVIDIA Tegra 3, introduced in 2012, took a leap forward with a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU architecture. It also incorporated a fifth companion core, known as the "Ninja Core," which operated at lower power levels during less demanding tasks. This innovative design allowed for improved power efficiency and extended battery life.

With the Tegra 3, NVIDIA also introduced Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing (vSMP) technology, which dynamically allocated tasks to the most suitable cores, optimizing performance and power consumption. This architecture upgrade made the Tegra 3 a significant improvement over its predecessor.

Graphics Performance

Both the Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 processors boasted impressive graphics capabilities. The Tegra 2 featured an NVIDIA GeForce GPU with eight dedicated graphics cores, providing smooth and immersive gaming experiences. It supported OpenGL ES 2.0, allowing for advanced graphics rendering and effects.

The Tegra 3, however, took graphics performance to the next level. It introduced the NVIDIA GeForce ULP (Ultra Low Power) GPU with twelve dedicated graphics cores. This GPU delivered enhanced visual effects, improved shading, and increased overall performance. The Tegra 3 also supported OpenGL ES 2.0 and added support for OpenGL ES 3.0, enabling even more realistic and detailed graphics in games and applications.

With its superior graphics capabilities, the Tegra 3 became the go-to choice for gamers and multimedia enthusiasts, offering a more immersive and visually stunning experience compared to the Tegra 2.

Multimedia Capabilities

Both the Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 processors excelled in multimedia performance, enabling high-quality video playback and audio processing. The Tegra 2 supported Full HD 1080p video playback and offered hardware-accelerated video decoding for various formats, including H.264, VC-1, and MPEG-4.

The Tegra 3, building upon its predecessor's capabilities, further enhanced multimedia performance. It introduced support for 3D video playback, allowing users to enjoy immersive 3D content on compatible devices. Additionally, the Tegra 3 featured an improved audio engine, providing enhanced audio processing and support for advanced audio codecs.

With its expanded multimedia capabilities, the Tegra 3 became a popular choice for users who demanded high-quality video playback and audio performance on their mobile devices.

Power Efficiency

Power efficiency is a crucial aspect of mobile processors, as it directly impacts battery life. The Tegra 2, with its dual-core architecture, offered decent power efficiency for its time. However, the Tegra 3 took power efficiency to new heights.

Thanks to its quad-core architecture and the addition of the companion core, the Tegra 3 achieved remarkable power efficiency. The companion core, designed to handle less demanding tasks, allowed the main cores to remain idle, conserving power. Additionally, the vSMP technology intelligently distributed tasks across the cores, further optimizing power consumption.

With its power-efficient design, the Tegra 3 enabled longer battery life, making it an attractive choice for users who prioritized mobility and extended usage without frequent recharging.


In conclusion, the NVIDIA Tegra 2 and NVIDIA Tegra 3 processors have both made significant contributions to the mobile computing industry. While the Tegra 2 introduced a dual-core architecture and impressive graphics capabilities, the Tegra 3 took a leap forward with its quad-core architecture, enhanced graphics performance, expanded multimedia capabilities, and remarkable power efficiency.

Both processors have played a crucial role in enabling smooth multitasking, immersive gaming experiences, and high-quality multimedia playback. However, the Tegra 3's advancements make it the superior choice for users seeking top-notch performance, extended battery life, and visually stunning graphics.

As technology continues to evolve, NVIDIA's Tegra processors have paved the way for even more powerful and efficient mobile processors, further enhancing the capabilities of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

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