Nvidia enters mobile GPU race with 192-core Tegra K1 chip

By Peter Gothard
06 Jan 2014 View Comments
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Nvidia has revealed a new mobile processor, the Tegra K1, that features 192 graphics processing cores, and is based on the Kepler technology the firm uses in its top-end PC components.

Unveiled at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the 64-bit chip seems to be positioned to help Nvidia directly combat Qualcomm, Samsung and Intel in the mobile space - Nvidia's Tegra processors having fallen out of favour over recent years. Google's 2013 edition of its Nexus 7, for example, switched from using Nvidia's Tegra 3 to employing the latest Intel Atom.

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Nvidia is pulling no punches. Its presentation highlighted the raw power of the 2.3GHz processor, which can support up to 8GB of RAM, by comparing it directly to Sony and Microsoft's passing generation of home videogames consoles.

The firm also claims a CPU horsepower for the K1 of around four times that of the IBM CPU in the PlayStation 3, and a power usage that is just five per cent of that of the PS3 and Xbox 360 processors. In doing so Nvidia appeared to make a strong case for its chip.

Nvidia was quick to point out the possibilities for the technology beyond pretty graphics, conjuring up the example of the processor's possible application for self-drive systems in cars, with Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang describing the chip's presence in a vehicle as like having a "supercomputer" in the car.

The chip will be released in two different versions - a quad-core Cortex A15 CPU version, designed by ARM, and a more powerful iteration based on Nvidia's upcoming Denver CPU. This dual-core processor will be based on a custom build of ARM's existing V8 architecture.


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