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