Electronics and Semiconductors

Tegra Mobile Processor Offers 192-Core Graphics, No LTE

13 January 2014

Nvidia Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.) has launched its Tegra K1 application processor for mobile equipment with a pitch that it will offer superior games playing. The chip will come in 32- and 64-bit versions, Nvidia said.

The chip, manufactured in a 28nm CMOS, includes a 192-core implementation of Nvidia's Kepler graphics architecture as a well as the four-plus-one ARM CPU architecture that Nvidia has previously deployed in its Tegra 4 processor. However there is no mention of any on-chip communications modem. This leaves the Tegra 4i as the only Nvidia processor with integrated LTE core and communications support.

The Tegra 4i is expected to become available in 1Q14 while the Tegra K1 is expected to follow in 2Q14.

Whereas Tegra 4i involved some compromises on the CPU and GPU fronts to make room for the Icera software-defined modem, the Tegra K1 is about gaming performance and the potential for GPU compute in applications such as computer vision, augmented reality and speech recognition. Nvidia claimed the Kepler GPU at the heart of Tegra K1 is 1.5 times more efficient than other mobile GPUs. Nvidia also stresses support for its own CUDA parallel programming platform as well as for gaming software engines such as Epic Games' Unreal Engine 4. ?Tegra K1 provides full support for the latest PC-class gaming technologies – including DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.4 and tessellation.

The Tegra K1 is offered in two pin-compatible versions. The first version uses five 32-bit Cortex-A15 cores. Four are optimized for performance while the fifth is optimized for power consumption and is there to run in wake-up and battery-saving modes. The processor has a maximum clock frequency of 2.3-GHz and connects to up to 8-Gbytes of memory (40-bit addressing) via DDR3L and LPDDR3 interfaces. For displays the processor supports 3840 by 2160 resolution in local LCDs and 4K high definition resolution pictures over HDMI.

The second version uses an ARM-compatible 64-bit dual-core CPU codenamed Denver. The 32-bit version is expected in devices in the first half of 2014, while the 64-bit version is expected in devices in the second half of the year.

"Over the past two decades, Nvidia invented the GPU and has developed more graphics technologies than any other company," said Jen-Hsun Huang, co-founder and CEO of Nvidia, in a statement. "With Tegra K1, we’re bringing that heritage to mobile. It bridges the gap for developers, who can now build next-gen games and apps that will run on any device."

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Audi AG (Ingolstadt, Germany) announced that it would deploy Tegra K1 mobile processors within future autonomous-driving initiatives, capitalizing on the computer vision and GPU compute capabilies.

"Now, with the possibility of Nvidia K1, with 192 cores running, you have the power that 10 years ago was in the world's largest supercomputer," said Ricky Hudi, Audi's chief electrical and electronic engineer, in a statement posted by Nvidia on its website.

Audi's partnership with Nvidia dates back to 2004 and the automobile maker uses Tegra processors for infotainment, rear-seat entertainment and navigation systems.

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