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Nvidia’s Tegra K1 Set to Make a Big Splash

By Andrew Burgon /
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March 7, 2014


Project Fellowship Tegra K1

Nvidia’s Tegra K1 Turns Your Mobile Device into a Powerhouse

The new 192 GPU core Tegra K1 mobile processor is reputed to be so powerful that it can play games using the Unreal Engine 4 and in terms of sheer FLOPS blows away last generation consoles like the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3.

Tegra’s K1 comes in two flavors. The first is it’s 32-bit version which is a 4-Plus-1 (TM) quad-core ARM Cortex(TM) -A15 CPU. It harnesses ARM’s advanced CPU, Cortex A15, as well as a third-generation battery-saver core boosting it to record levels of performance and battery life. The second version leverages two of NVIDIA’s own 64-bit ARMv8 Denver CPUs.

The A15 version of the Tegra K1 features four high performance cores and a fifth Cortex A15 that is optimized for low power operation. This fifth optimized companion core takes over during times of very low CPU usage like when a tablet or smart phone is idle or the screen is turned off. The K1 will implement as many cores as necessary to do the job at hand.

It incorporates a newer revision of the Cortex A15 (r3p3) noted for it’s improved clock gating thereby increasing it’s power efficiency. The move to 28nm HPM (High Performance Mobile) have also helped allowing better performance at the same power consumption. The 28nm HPM is also responsible for the blazing¬†2.3GHz that can now be achieved. In comparison with the Tegra 4 the Tegra K1 is just over 20% faster.

In a turn of events that’s sure to raise eyebrows all Nvidia mobile GPUs will from now on have the same architectures as NVIDIA’s desktop parts. As Nvidia’s CEO Jen-Hsun said, Nvidia have successfully hurdled the enormous barriers that were before them by implanting “the heart of GeForce and the soul of Tesla into a mobile computing chip.” We can look forward to future Tegra K1 devices supporting next generation graphics capabilities, delivering highly-detailed visuals and breakthrough energy efficiency.

It will fully support the latest PC gaming technologies like Direct X11, OpenGL 4.4, the Unreal Engine 4 and tessellation. In addition to this it is the first mobile processor to support the parallel computing platform, NVIDIA CUDA (R). This will allow for advanced imaging among other things.

The ‘K’ in the K1 designation stands for Kepler. Nvidia claims that it is the world’s fastest and most energy-efficient GPU architecture.

Project Fellowship tegra_k1_vs_consoles

As we can see by the chart above the K1 has got the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 easily beat when it comes to FLOPS. It’s texture fill rate and memory bandwidth, however, are smaller and it only has four render mapping units compared to the Playstation’s 8. The K1 though is considerably more efficient and DX11 inherently has efficiency-boosting capabilities that the DX9 didn’t have.

The Tegra K1 has already been shipped to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and you will start to see them in devices in the first half of 2014.

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