NVIDIA wants to make sure that consumers get the full skinny on their new Tegra 3 chip's architecture. Sometime last year we did an article sharing that the Tegra 3 is actually a 5 core chip, rather than just a quad-core chip. It has 4 primary cores for running intensive calculations, but also has a 5th "shadow-core" (which has also been called the "ninja-core" by NVIDIA). This 5th core is designed to handle easy to calculate and mundane tasks to free up battery life and improve over-all efficiency. Previously, their in-house name for this architecture was "Variable Symmetrical Multiprocessing", but that is rather a mouth-full to share as marketing speak. So, to make things easier, they came up with the simple alias, 4-PLUS-1.

That makes sense, and thanks for clarifying things, NVIDIA. Now our lives have been improved by this ground-breaking and earth-shattering news. (I couldn't resist a little sarcasm, but it's still interesting and appreciated news.) here is a quote from NVIDIA's press post:

We’ve described Tegra 3’s unique architecture in a number of ways since its launch back in November 2011 – as variable symmetric multiprocessing, as having a “companion core” or as wielding a “ninja core“.

Today, we’re officially calling it the 4-PLUS-1 quad-core architecture and trademarking the name.

The reason is that, the more popular this technology became, the more our customers wanted a name for it that’s unique and descriptive. A name they could put on a box or a store sign that immediately represents its value.
The Tegra 3 processor’s 4-PLUS-1
quad-core architecture, visualized

What this revolutionary architecture does is simple: It provides both exceptional processing power and great battery life. It does this by using four powerful CPU cores to handle demanding tasks, such as gaming, and a fifth low-power, battery-saver core to manage less strenuous tasks – like processing e-mail or operating in standby mode.

Don’t be surprised to see it turning up more and more in devices at next week’s Mobile World Congress and beyond.

And while Prince Rogers Nelson initially changed his stage name to Prince and then to TAFKAP (the Artist Formerly Known as Prince) when he took up a symbol combining elements of male and female symbology, 4-PLUS-1 is here to stay.

You can learn more about it in our whitepaper on the technology, which has just been updated.
If it can help improve battery life, then this is going to be a great product, regardless of what you call it!

Source: NVIDIA