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NVIDIA wants to bring Kepler desktop GPUs to future "superphones"

Posted: , by Scott H.

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NVIDIA wants to bring Kepler desktop GPUs to future
For those of you who aren’t part of the desktop gaming crowd, NVIDIA also happens to make video cards for PCs. This week marks the release of the GeForce GTX 680, the first card based on a new architecture codenamed “Kepler”. Normally this wouldn’t really be smartphone news – for those of you that rock a high end gaming card in your home rigs, you know that those cards are significantly bigger than any phone (even the current phablet craze).

Yet in an internal email sent out by NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang specifically mentions mobile devices. The relevant portion of the email is reproduced here:

Today is just the beginning of Kepler.  Because of its super energy-efficient architecture, we will extend GPUs into datacenters, to super thin notebooks, to superphones.

Kepler is built on a 28nm die process – which is significantly smaller than the Tegra 3’s 40nm process. Shrinking the size of transistors leads to one of the few “more, better, faster” propositions in physics; the smaller the size the less energy that is lost to heat, and as a result chips are faster, cooler, and more power efficient.

Obviously those are all desirable traits in a smartphone GPU. So if NVIDIA is determined to bring Kepler to future chipsets (Tegra 4?) that can only be a good thing for consumers. Of course a mobile variant probably wouldn’t be clocked as high as the desktop gaming version of the chip, and some of the bus bandwidth may be more dependent on the rest of the mobile SoC (since you can’t slap a foot-long graphics card into a smartphone).

If this is the path that NVIDIA pursues we may see true desktop-quality graphics processing in our next-gen mobile devices. This may be especially important to tablets, if Android or Windows 8 OEMs hope to compete with the resolution and graphics performance found in the new iPad. It should be exciting to see how other mobile chipmakers respond.

source: Anandtech via The Verge

10 Comments
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posted on 23 Mar 2012, 12:01 3

1. MobileCaseReview (Posts: 239; Member since: 10 Feb 2012)


Wow, pretty beastly.

posted on 23 Mar 2012, 12:08 1

2. roscuthiii (Posts: 1720; Member since: 18 Jul 2010)


Me likey now please?

posted on 23 Mar 2012, 12:16 2

3. Exile SS (Posts: 40; Member since: 07 Oct 2010)


It seems obvious that they would put Kepler in phones. Tweak it a bit, give it a new name, put it in a phone, and start a revolution. Either way I'm stoked that Kepler finally came out. I've been following it for months.

posted on 23 Mar 2012, 14:06 3

4. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


Kepler wont be the exact chip in the phones, but a similar one is probably already planned for 2013/2014. It would have to be adjusted for low voltage and other things required to bring it to cell phones, but even if they manage to keep 1/5th of the power of that thing (1/3rd would make it as powerful as a GT-580, that would be massive) it will be quite impressive... well hell, more than quite impressive.

posted on 23 Mar 2012, 14:13

5. jove39 (Posts: 1207; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


Well...I doubt...Nvidia is gonna make that move...see power consumption is very important factor in mobile chips...with 28nm manufacturing and increasing cuda cores to some reasonable level...Nvidia would just manage to match SGX543MP2...wont be able to exceed!

posted on 23 Mar 2012, 16:23 2

6. Dr.Phil (Posts: 821; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)


And you know this because...? If they built a chipset like the Kepler it would easily beat the SGX543MP2. In fact, Qualcomm will be able to beat that with the Adreno 320 this year along with the Mali t-604 that Samsung should have on their Galaxy device. Both of those chipsets could actually beat out the MP4 as well. So, I don't think it would be hard for nVidia to beat out the MP2, or the MP4 for that matter, within the next year.

posted on 23 Mar 2012, 19:57

8. jove39 (Posts: 1207; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


Well...I am not saying its impossible for Nvidia to beat any gpu out there...they have regained crown with "GeForce GTX 680". If nvidia's target was to beat 543MP2...they could have easily done it with Tegra3...but they didn't...why?

posted on 23 Mar 2012, 20:55 1

9. Dr.Phil (Posts: 821; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)


Well I think we have to put things into perspective. PowerVR has been making SGX GPUs since 2005 and nVidia really entered the market this past year with Tegra 2 (though they did play an earlier role in developing some mobile chipsets but not much). So, I think that as nVidia as well as other manufacturers are starting to master putting smaller and more efficient chipsets into these devices, they will also start to learn how to make better performing chipsets as well. Don't get me wrong, PowerVR is a great company that has really pioneered the mobile GPU market and still does to this day, but the other companies are starting to learn and are going to really start to compete with PowerVR. It also does help that PowerVR was the first to use TBDR technology and I think still to this day are the only ones to use it (though I may be wrong). It is interesting to see that these companies are playing catch up to a GPU that was made in 2009 (the MP2) and 2010 (the MP4), but I think you will see in this next year with the Mali t-658 and Adreno 3xx series GPUs coming out that it will really heat up the competition. And I am confident that nVidia will release a GPU that will at least match the performance of an MP4. I think they were just mainly rushing to be the first quad-core mobile devices on the market and didn't really plan out their chipsets.

posted on 23 Mar 2012, 17:13 2

7. sgtdisturbed47 (Posts: 126; Member since: 02 Feb 2012)


nVidia back in 2006 called it very correctly by saying that cell phones would be the next great gaming machine. So far, they are. Games play beautifully on cell phones these days, and nVidia plays a huge part in that. Kepler deserves a smartphone port.

posted on 24 Mar 2012, 01:46

10. hung2900 (Posts: 714; Member since: 02 Mar 2012)


I was very disappointed with the GPU in Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 (Tegra 2 doesn't support NEON). Hope that Tegra 4 (with Kepler???) will be better.

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