Nvidia Tegra K1 unveiled with 192-core Kepler GPU, release date set for H1 2014

Nvidia Tegra K1 unveiled with 192-core Kepler GPU, release date set for H1 2014
Nvidia has officially unveiled its new Tegra K1 mobile chip coming with an impressive 192-core Kepler GPU. The Nvidia Tegra K1 will first come in a combination of that new Kepler graphics chip and a quad-core Cortex A15 (plus one shadow A15 core) in the first half of 2014.

The one hugely impressive number that you cannot miss is, clearly, the 192 cores of the GPU. Someone with little technical background could be impressed when suddenly hearing about a “192-core Tegra K1.” After all, 192 cores are a lot more than four or eight in current quad-core and octa-core chips, aren't they? So, why so many cores suddenly? First and foremost, because of marketing. It’s important to clarify that Nvidia is not talking about CPU cores here. In reality, the Tegra K1 will first arrive with a quad-core CPU, so, essentially, it’s a quad-core chip. Any comparisons between its 192-core GPU with current quad-core CPU chips would simply be out of context, so do not be fooled by the number alone.

Nvidia, however, is in the unique position to be developing a Compute Unified Device Architecture (CUDA) where a lot of the traditional CPU load can be transferred over to the GPU. The Tegra K1 is exactly that, and the 192 cores of the Kepler graphics chip are actually CUDA cores that do some of the lifting that traditionally a CPU would do.

Most interestingly, the Tegra K1 gets rid of the ULP GeForce graphics chip it used earlier and replaces it with a desktop class GeForce Kepler graphics. Nvidia showed a presentation slide making it clear that this means convergence on the graphics front and we can expect its future mobile roadmap to match the desktop one.

We should once again stress that this first iteration of the Tegra K1 will ship with a quad-core Cortex A15 processor. This is a pure 32-bit ARMv7 instruction set, but Nvidia has actually widened the memory width to 40 bits to avoid the 4GB trap. With a 40-bit memory addressability, devices featuring the first-gen Tegra K1 would have a higher limit for the maximum amount of RAM - 8GB instead of just 4GB.

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Technically, the Tegra K1 comes after the dual-core Tegra 2, and quad-core Tegra 3 and 4. Nonetheless, "it's almost inappropriate to call it Tegra 5, because it's simply not linear," CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. "It's the most successful architecture we've created."

Intesrestingly, Nvidia mentioned that the Tegra K1 actually delivers more horsepower than even consoles like the PlayStation 3 at a much lower power consumption of just around 5 watts. We don't know under what load exactly, but this sounds just like a power target for tablets, so expect to see this new chip in tablets rather than smartphones. After multiple delays of the Tegra 3 and 4 chips, we really hope Huang and crew have it all figured out now, and we’ll get to see more OEMs embracing the new chip. After all, the new Kepler is one thing that should really up the ante in mobile gaming, a field where the Tegra K1 really shines.

source: Nvidia

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