Nvidia Tegra K1 Reference Tablet hands-on

Nvidia Tegra K1 Reference Tablet hands-on
One of the biggest announcements of CES 2014 was not a single device, but a chip - the Nvidia Tegra K1. A huge step up in mobile graphics, the Tegra K1 is the first chip with a desktop-class Kepler GPU with 192 CUDA cores (not to be mistaken with CPU cores). The K1 will come in two stages - first, a quad-core Cortex A15 configuration is set on arriving in the first half of the year, and then, a dual-core custom Nvidia 64-bit Denver core setup should start shipping in the second half of 2014.

How much of an improvement does it really make to mobile graphics, though? Nvidia brought a brand new Tegra K1 Reference Tablet to show how well its platform performs.

Tegra K1 Reference Tablet Specs

The Nvidia Tegra K1 Reference Tablet is a compact seven incher that looks a lot like the Tegra Note 7 reference design Nvidia demonstrated earlier, in 2013. It’s indeed based on the Note 7 chassis on the outside, but under the hood it’s much improved. The reference design tablet is a hint for device manufacturers about which way they can go when making their own products, but it does not dictate design choices, so actual devices with the K1 can and probably will look different.

In terms of hardware, though, the spec sheet of the reference tablet could well be copied by device makers that choose to use the Tegra K1. We’re talking about a high-res 7-inch 1920 x 1200-pixel display (the Nexus 7 2013 features the same resolution), and under the hood - the Tegra K1 chip with 4GB of RAM in the reference tablet. That’s definitely a high-end configuration, one that geeks would fall in love with.

Kepler graphics

We already mentioned that the first wave of Tegra K1 tablets will feature a quad-core Cortex A15 chip. We have also already seen quad-core A15 on devices like the Nexus 10, and we know the peaks and limits of ARM's cores, so it’s not really CPU boosts that we’re looking forward to with the first wave of K1 tablets. Instead, it’s all about the Kepler graphics.

The Kepler GPU uses a desktop-class Nvidia design with a huge number of 192 CUDA cores allowing quick rendering of highly parallel instructions. Let us once again say that it would not be correct to call the K1 a “192-core chip” since these are small GPU cores and not CPU cores. Still, it’s a hugely impressive design for graphics. Nvidia showed a slide saying Kepler in the K1 is actually the point where its roadmap for desktop and mobile converges, hence it’s completely justified to speak about this as a 'desktop-class' GPU.

Another slide Nvidia showed puts this performance in context. The Tegra K1 outperforms the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 at 20 times lower power budget - 5 watts for the K1 against nearly 100 watts for the consoles. At that 5 watt load, the K1 managed to score 365 peak GFLOPS, nearly double the PlayStation 3 score.

We need to go no further than the ‘Ira’ facial render demo showing how the Tegra K1 can display a very realistic human head with all its tiny details and human-like expressions. Current technology is simply not capable of delivering such level of detail. We’re yet to see how Nvidia manages heating, but we have all reasons to believe that this time around it has a winner with its new chip. Take a look at our Tegra K1 Reference Tablet hands-on video and images right below to see for yourselves.



1. xperiaDROID

Posts: 5629; Member since: Mar 08, 2013

I want Tegra K1 on the Xperia Tablet Z2.

4. rihel_95

Posts: 305; Member since: Mar 21, 2012

Too late for that!

15. omar300

Posts: 210; Member since: Jun 24, 2012

this gpu is really useless if no one makes a good use of its performance. all the game developers only use graphic level that suits majority of devices in market. unless nvidia teams up with some developers to make better version of game for k1 processoer devices... until this only only goes far as average device may be will lag little less.

16. Pancoon

Posts: 42; Member since: Jul 05, 2013

I completely agree with that, but Nvidia has already been working on it. Check out TegraZone. It has 17 pages of Tegra optimized games.

5. itsdeepak4u2000

Posts: 3718; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

You'll not get it. I think Z2 will come with QC's Snapdragon 805 most probably. Though I hope that any of the big OEM brings this.

6. Felix_Gatto

Posts: 942; Member since: Jul 03, 2013

I think Sony will never use tegra SoC for their tablets, since the latest tablet from Sony(Xperia Tablet Z) is powered by SnapDragon. I bet it would be Snapdragon 805 on Xperia Tablet Z2.

2. Smokin

Posts: 120; Member since: Oct 10, 2013

Beast. By the way i love the new look for PA. If actually HTC use Tegra K1 in their devices, i might swing from GS V. But for now GS5 is my next phone unless Sony Sirius kicks in with some great specs.

8. Felix_Gatto

Posts: 942; Member since: Jul 03, 2013

I'm not sure that Tegra K1 is suitable for smartphones. Can you imagine that quad core A15 clocked at 2.5GHZ(but still manufactured at 28nm) with a crazy 192 CUDA cores running at small device like smartphone, it will blazing fast and blazing hot at your hand. This monster should be sealed on a tablet.

17. Pancoon

Posts: 42; Member since: Jul 05, 2013

Great statement. Tablets are in need of a great SoC that aren't hammy downs from smartphones.

18. grahaman27

Posts: 364; Member since: Apr 05, 2013

The a15 version is clocked at 2.3ghz... Just like sd800. So yes I can.

3. shahulvm

Posts: 124; Member since: Apr 01, 2012

i think something similar came out last year..i mean the advertisement

7. ajac09

Posts: 1482; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

So sick of Nvida making big shows showing off amazing chip sets and delivers them... right before they announce another one. I guess they are more concerned with the graphic card market vs the mobile to bad. Id love to see the K1 in not just tablets and phones but maybe even someone build a an amazing console around it similar to the ps4 and xbox one of course not another android game platform.

9. shuaibhere

Posts: 1986; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

That guy who did hands-on is from india...

10. Felix_Gatto

Posts: 942; Member since: Jul 03, 2013

So.. who cares about that?

19. grahaman27

Posts: 364; Member since: Apr 05, 2013

I do. I love Indian accents

13. fireblade

Posts: 717; Member since: Dec 27, 2013

So what? Should I care? The guys who design this tablet is from US. And the guys who manufacture this tablet is from China.

11. crazymonkey05

Posts: 189; Member since: Nov 20, 2012

Is this tablet running android if so its also running x64 bit CPU cuz look its got 4gb of ram

14. sarge77

Posts: 202; Member since: Mar 14, 2013

It's actually 40bits the 64bit chip will come out in the 2h of the year with a dual core clocked at 2.5ghz as we'll but more power per core using the similar to apples cyclone tech the focus is on the gpu handling alot hopefully they can pull this off would love to see the 1st phone or tablet using this. Why doesn't tegra partner with steam so as we'll bring us gaming with all those titles.

12. jove39

Posts: 2148; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

Nvidia has done amazing job...hope google makes Nexus 7/10 (2014) with Nvidia K1 (denver).

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