After lagging behind ARM chips in the mobile market for some time now, Nvidia steps up to the plate with it’s new Tegra K1. The main feature of the chip is it’s amazing 192 GPU cores. While Nvidia has been trying to gain a significant share of the mobile chip market, so far it hasn’t had great success. With this new design, the company hopes to make inroads to tablets, smartphones, cars, and pretty much anywhere else it can. The graphics capabilities of the chip are compared to gaming consoles, XBox 360 and Playstation 3, in the chart below. Possibly it would have been better to compare the K1 to the latest versions of the XBox and Playstation, but then it wouldn’t likely have looked as impressive
Even though it’s compared to older systems, doing it’s processing while only using 5 watts is quite an achievement. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang went on to say that the chip is three times faster than the A7 which powers Apple’s iPad. While that sounds good, the A7 is already been out a while, and there are no devices running the K1 yet. So by the time it actually shows up in devices available for consumers to purchase, who knows where the iPad will be, in comparison.
The K1 will be available in two designs. The first, a quad core A15 soc, will have 32-bit architecture. The second will utilize Nvidia’s long-awaited Denver technology, with a dual core, 64-bit design. Both chips have some of their specifications in the chart below.
So, will these chips finally give Nvidia the foothold it needs in mobile computing? Depends. First, the chips need to get out to consumers. Can’t gain market share if you don’t have a product to sell. Second, real-world performance. Nvidia has made various claims about it’s previous Tegra chips. While they were decent performers, there was nothing really outstanding about them, to set the chips apart from the competition. Nvidia needs the K1 to be much, much better than any other options available for consumers. If it turns out as good as the company claims, it can be a big hit. If performance isn’t quite up to expectations in real devices, then Nvidia will be further behind in the mobile market than it already is.