NVIDIA is getting ready to launch its first Tegra processor based on the same Kepler architecture as its PC gaming graphics hardware. Up until now we’ve been calling that next-gen chip the Tegra 5, but NVIDIA says it’s such an evolutionary leap from earlier Tegra chips that it deserves as new name.

Enter the NVIDIA Tegra K1, a chip that the company calls a 192 core processor. Although we’re talking about a mix of CPU and GPU cores, that’s still far more processor cores than you’ll find in any other mobile chip.

NVIDIA Tegra K1

Does that matter? It might — NVIDIA says the Tegra K1 brings PC-level graphics to mobile devices, and Epic Games is bringing its Unreal Engine 4 game platform to the Tegra K1 chip.

The chip also supports NVIDIA’s CUDA parallel processing technology, which means the GPU cores can be leveraged to perform duties normally handled by a CPU core… assuming app developers write software that uses that capability.

NVIDIA says the chip is more powerful than the processors in the Playstation 3 or Xbox 360, and supports DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.4 capabilities. It also uses just 5W of power, compared with 100W for the chips in those last-gen game consoles.

There will be two versions of the Tegra K1 chip. The first will be based on a 32-bit ARM Cortex-A15 CPU, much like the Tegra 4 chips available today. The second is based on next-gen ARMv8 architecture. It’s a dual-core chip based on NVIDIA’s new Denver 64-bit CPU architecture.

k1_04

The 32 bit version runs at up to 2.3 GHz and is based on 3-way superscalar architecture , while the 64-bit model is a 7-way superscalar chip that supports clock speeds up to 2.5 GHz.

NVIDIA is also making a play for the in-vehicle computing space, with an automotive version of the K1 chip designed to help with assistive driving systems, doing things like helping to identify obstacles on the road, the distance between your vehicle and the ones ahead of it, and more.

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14 replies on “NVIDIA introduces Tegra K1 mobile chips with 192 graphics cores”

  1. That video is quite impressive – and only 5 Watts to boot? Amazing. Too bad the drivers will be locked up tight due to a broken US Patent System and greedy Trial Lawyers.

    1. When it comes to the GPU, NVIDIA is very good in providing updated
      drivers for their originally PC targetted GPU architecture. They’ve added ARM support for
      their GPU drivers last year. It’s probably because they’re releasing
      this new ARM SoC with a GPU that uses the same architecture as their PC GPUs. Also, they’ve started licensing out their GPU IP to ARM vendors.

      Of
      course, the drivers are closed but on the x86 side, NVIDIA has shown
      they are willing to keep the drivers up to date and support newer Linux
      kernels. I’ve still gotten some bug fixes and new Linux kernel support for my 8 year old NVIDIA GPU at the end of last year.

      There are other closed drivers though when it comes to ARM so I can’t say it’s all good. We’ll see.

  2. All this points to one thing, the current gen consoles ie the Xbox One and PS4 will have to be refreshed a lot sooner than 8 years as they were last time. With SOC improvements happening at this rate, a SOC based Android game console would be more powerful than a PS4 in < 5 years.

    1. more like in 2-3 years becse tablet/phone chips are getting almost 3-5 times more powerful each year

  3. Just to clarify for the reader, it’s 188 GPU/CUDA cores on a quad core chip. The reason NVIDIA didn’t go into detail about the quad core is that they have plenty of power as a quad core to match with their 188 gpu cores. While they are obsessed with the whole core marketing thing for GPU cores, they don’t really need to focus on their CPU cores. People get hung up on CPU cores and there is no need at this point. Bottom line, quad core is fine, octacore is excessive and we clearly aren’t ready for sexdecuple ARM cpu cores.

    1. that 192 is not including ARM cores. so the gpu cores is exactly 192; it is geforce gpu with 1 SMX. the cpu portion still the same as previous tegra cpu 4+1. but it is interesting that the denver based K1 does not have low companion core

      1. Denver based K1 is dual-core, so no companion core…perhaps when process tech goes to 20nm or 16FF, then 4+1 may come back.

    2. Well, in defense of ARM SoCs with more CPU cores, there are markets other than phones and tablets. There’s the whole micro server market that Intel and ARM vendors are fighting for which benefits from more cores. The embedded market also often uses ARM SoCs as well and many of their applications do benefit from more cores.

  4. I hear NVIDIA has added ARM to their universal proprietary GPU Linux drivers for their once x86 only targeted GPUs. At least with using the same GPU architecture as their PC GPUs, there may be a higher chance of long term GPU driver support. Although they’ll be proprietary drivers. This is the main reason I’m interested in this chip. I don’t really play games on the PC nor phone.

    Of course, there are other closed drivers that may not get updated to support new Linux kernels when it comes to anything ARM related. So long term driver and OS updates may still be a long ways away.

  5. So how much is all this capability going to cost?

    Now that the hardware is here, when will Android be
    updated so that it can take advantage of this power?
    We’ll need a parallel processing cluster supporting OS.

    Given that mobile devices have such limited screen real
    estate, I don’t know how many simultaneous onscreen
    windows make sense here. (Like the NSA’s actions,
    just because the technology allows you to do it doesn’t
    mean it should be done.)

    1. Even on desktops, GPGPU processing is mostly used for commercial and scientific purposes. I doubt such tasks will be done on Android. Maybe embedded ARM boards for non-consumer use running Linux are more likely to make use of GPGPU processing.

      I think the the 100+ GPU cores will mostly be used for games when it comes to Android. However, who knows, maybe some scientists out there will make some CUDA based software to do some of their processing on Android.

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