Quad-core NVIDIA Kal-El chipset turns out penta-core, one more for the lazy jobs
We knew that NVIDIA's Kal-El project of building what might turn out the first commercially available mobile quad-core ARM chipset is a performance beast compared to the current dual-core crop. What will probably land as Tegra 3 has four ARM Cortex-A9 cores, at least that's what we thought until now, which made it oh so special compared to the two such processor cores in the current NVIDIA Tegra 2 that is found in the vast majority of Android tablets.
NVIDIA, however, just unveiled a fifth, hitherto stealth "companion" core, which is still based on ARM's Cortex-A9 architecture, but hums at 500MHz, instead of 1GHz. It's no fifth wheel, though, as the extra core is meant to be active with tasks that can be done in a low-power state, like standby, music playback, and even some video playback, thus saving a great deal on battery life. why not just throttle down one of the existing 1GHz cores is beyond us, and in the competency of NVIDIA engineers, but this is hardly a new design decision.
Marvell's Armada 628 ARM-based chipset has two cores that run at 1.5GHz, and a third one clocked at 624MHz for the mundane tasks, so this "companion core" design has probably proved more effective or easier to implement than dynamically underclocking one of the existing powerful cores.