NVIDIA Kal-El – what will the first quad-core chipset bring

NVIDIA Kal-El – what will the first quad-core chipset bring
There's been a lot of talk lately about what will probably turn out to be the very first quad-core chipset for phones and tablets – the NVIDIA Kal-El. And while we're still waiting for those first quad-core devices to hit the market, we thought it might not be a bad idea to take a quick look at what's known about the Kal-El right now. You know, just to put all the info in one place, so we can analyze it more easily.

Cool new features

First of all, “Kal-El” is most probably a project name, which, upon its release, will change to something in the lines of “Tegra 3” (or maybe Tegra 4?). The way it'll achieve a performance boost will naturally be by distributing the workload among a total of four cores, instead of just one or two. This shouldn't be confused with the GPU part of the chipset, which alone will consist of 12 cores.

So, what else will the Kal-El bring for the user, besides the expected improvement in system performance? The increased power and enhanced technology of the SoC (System on a Chip) will actually be the key to unlocking a number of graphical and computational features, which have been previously impossible to achieve. Well, some of them could be possible, but not without a tremendous drop in the framerate, which would have rendered them useless.

The so-called “Extreme HD” video playback of video of up to 2560x1600-pixel resolution is one of those new features. Obviously, once those “Retina Display”-grade tablets start to hit the scene, the ability to play such high-resolution video would be quite beneficial. Until we have those displays however, there won't be much use in this.

The sweeter part, as expected, will be found with games and other entertainment software, which will really take advantage of all the processing power of those four cores. For example, in addition to more detailed objects, developers will be able to implement dynamic lighting in their 3D games, making them look even better, livelier, and much more realistic. NVIDIA showed a great example of this with its tech-demo, called Glowball.

Games that rely heavily on physics will also take great advantage from the capabilities of Kal-El, as the chipset will be powerful enough to calculate complex collisions of 3D models. Angry Birds 3D, anyone?


Of course, the inevitable question is – will there be enough software for users to enjoy, when Kal-El-powered phones and tablets finally arrive? How much of an ecosystem there is to accompany the advent of quad-core chipsets? Basically, we can't be certain right now, but things look to be developing pretty slowly, with only a couple of titles announced so far to be quad-core-optimized. However, we hope that when those devices start appearing on the shelves, devs will be quick to react and build a decent ecosystem.

But let's check out for a second what those next-gen titles look like! First is ShadowGun (demo video below), which looks like it won't excel with a very interesting and diverse gameplay, but it does promise some visuals that are clearly unseen on a mobile device so far. The other one is the very popular and addictive Sprinkle, available right now for iOS and Android. And while most of you would note that the game actually runs perfectly fine already, on dual- and even single-core devices, it is said that the upcoming version, which will carry support and optimizations for quad-core gadgets, will feature new goodies such as shadows, advanced lighting and reflections (probably for the water). So, it won't surprise us at all if developers manage to release new offerings that will implement significant visual refinements fairly quickly.

Okay, so it seems there is a lot to look forward to, when it comes to Kal-El, and quad-core chipsets as a whole, as they will provide developers with even more power to express their ideas. Most probably, the additional horsepower will be most useful for game development, as this is the area of software that has the highest demand for resources. We hope that phone manufacturers will also make good use of quad-core chipsets like the Kal-El, which will hopefully allow them to enhance their custom interfaces, both in terms of visuals and functionality. Finally, with all of that boost in performance, we can only expect our devices to become even faster and more productive, because this will proliferate usage of multitasking and overall heavier, presumably more capable apps.

Are we there yet?

At this point, probably everyone is wondering when will Kal-El start to make rounds. Right now, the first Kal-El-powered tablets are expected to roll out in October, while the first quad-core phones are scheduled to appear in early 2012; so while we aren't that far away from experiencing the quad-core goodness, we aren't quite there either, at least when it comes to phones, but we surely can't wait.

Are you looking forward to the time, when you'll finally have one of those quad-core gadgets in your hands? What do you plan to use its excessive power for? Gaming, productivity, or both? Feel free to share your thoughts below!



1. dacastrator unregistered

I wonder if I should wait for the Kal-El tablets this year or just get the Sony S Tablet..

2. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

if its really october.. which is only a few weeks away, id say wait and see. if you bought the tablet today and the kal-el powered tablets are just so above and beyond, would you kick yourself for not waiting? if you say yes, then wait.

5. cyborg009

Posts: 119; Member since: Sep 17, 2011

don't wait.. waiting is an infinite loop around here !!

7. jemolian unregistered

Since it's quite close to the release just wait...

3. HTCiscool

Posts: 449; Member since: Jul 16, 2011

with all of this happening, Alienware and gaming pc manufacturers are gonna have some serious competition. it also depends what the four cores are clocked at. Awaiting AMD's move.

17. lolnotreally unregistered

i really dont think they will have a serious competition. who the hell wants to play a high end shooting game on ur phone or tablet i sure dont thats what the computer is for .. your never going to have better graphics then your high end computer there is just no way.. who would want to play BF3 on a tablet NOT I !!!!!! i think we are long ways from that

18. HTCiscool

Posts: 449; Member since: Jul 16, 2011

Ok maybe not gaming PCs but I think this definitely marks the death of the console.

19. superguy

Posts: 465; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

I don't know about that. Xperia Play hasn't been doing so well, and that was designed to be a gaming phone.

20. yeayea unregistered

that wont happen for a while also.. you can play on a big screen tv 50' compare to a 10 inch tablet or 4.5 cell phone lol... too small :D!!

21. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

No on that one too. Give me a game controller all day, every day. Touch screen controls suck for something like football. Plus I agree with yeayea about the screen size. What tablets might give a run for their money is LAN parties. And thats a big might cuz you still talking about a tablet vs. a PC.

4. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Asus Eee Pad Transformer 2 will be the first quad-core Kal-El powered tablet. Asus you got your very first customer right here. I will pre-buy when I get the very first opportunity! I just can't wait, & you don't even need to ask, of course I will root the beast. lol

6. AKY45 unregistered

I wonder if I should bay the Kal-El tablets or wait qualcome-s 2,5 ghz chips and more

12. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

if u want it now, get kal el. if your not in the market for it for 6 months or so, then wait and see what everyone else brings to the table.

8. Firestarter2 unregistered

Until the Tegra phone support more video formats out of the box I will never get one.

9. AngusNG12345

Posts: 37; Member since: Jul 19, 2011

'Kal-El'... Superman?

10. alecgale

Posts: 55; Member since: Jun 29, 2011

did you just realize that or something

14. PimpStrong

Posts: 310; Member since: Jul 25, 2011


11. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

next they will notice that the next chips after kal-el are wayne and grey(son). AKA batman and robin's real last names. :)

23. p0rkguy

Posts: 685; Member since: Nov 23, 2010

Robin is actually Grayson. I'm thinking it's Jean Grey.

30. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

screw bad spelling :) it could be jean grey, but i kinda figured it would go better with wayne. more of my goofy hopefulness than anything probably.. lol

15. Totoro unregistered

Well, that's more probable than "ate feces" which it literally means in Russian...

13. superguy

Posts: 465; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

So, is this chip also not going to work with LTE?

16. XiphiasGladius

Posts: 813; Member since: Aug 21, 2011

Now I cant wait what will happen next year, mobile games surely will affect the sales of console games if this chips will be optimized. . .

22. cb2045 unregistered

This is unbelieveable. The mobile gaming is the same caliber as some early xbox 360 games. I can't even imagine what graphics/processors the next consoles will HAVE to incorporate to keep up with the mobile tech.

24. dashak unregistered

I doubt any major video game developers start cross-developing their console games for mobile. Strongly doubt. I personally would like to see some good independent developers putting out mobile/tablet exclusive games with the scale and quality of some bigger name console games. Of course, with that comes cost (charging 10-20 bucks for the full game), and whatsmore, I'd think that would drive a lot of people to just download the apk itself. There are some preventative measures in place for those attempting piracy as it is (on some games), but if bigger titles start getting developed I would think more people would be trying to find ways around those types of roadblocks. Also necessary before mobile/tablet gaming takes off is the standardization of a USB port on all tablets that can handle some type of game-pad (or bluetooth gamepad friendliness, if no USB). I rather enjoy playing games on my Transformer (kinda killed mobile phone gaming for me after a while). The only thing I want is more games, more exclusive games, and more games on a large scale (be it the game world or the level of customization - games like the Zenonia series come to mind).

25. XiphiasGladius

Posts: 813; Member since: Aug 21, 2011

Agree, more games more diversions from the hassle of everyday life. . .

27. dipereira0123

Posts: 17; Member since: Jul 26, 2011

maaan, seriously, if u need a quad-core on a phone something is wrong with ur system... (ok i will forget about the tablets) A quad core device MUST RUN a decent OS, android is far away from something like windows7 (8), MACOS X and the very linux distributions in almost every thing well however...

28. belovedson

Posts: 1061; Member since: Nov 30, 2010

won't be getting it awaiting the 24core gpu lol

29. Mobile-X-Pert

Posts: 565; Member since: Dec 20, 2010

I don't think so, consoles are a whole generation ahead of the tablets and phones. It's not just about graphics, you have to consider the Storage capacity, Blue Ray disks can store 100 GB already and that's just for one game, a 64 GB or 128 GB tablet won't be enough for a couple of demanding games, not to mention that the new consoles will have far superior graphics compared to the tablets and phones and of course the AI will be superior on consoles as well.

31. jackhammeR

Posts: 1548; Member since: Oct 17, 2011

Don't be so happy. Phone is just a little device. With no extra cooling system or large battery, quad, penta or whatever cores will do nothing. Laptops or pc's are not threated.

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