Video Decode

One of the stones we've thrown at NVIDIA is the lack of high profile H.264 decode support. Tegra 2 can decode main profile H.264 at up to 20Mbps, but throw any high profile 1080p content at the chip and it can't do it. This is a problem because a lot of video content out there today is high profile, high bitrate 1080p H.264. Today, even on Tegra 2, you'll have to transcode a lot of your 1080p video content to get it to play on the phone.

With Kal-El, that could change.

NVIDIA's video decoder gets an upgrade in Kal-El to support H.264 at 40Mbps sustained (60Mbps peak) at a resolution of 2560 x 1440. This meets the bandwidth requirements for full Blu-ray disc playback. NVIDIA didn't just make the claim however, it showed us a 50Mbps 1440p H.264 stream decoded and output to two screens simultaneously: a 2560 x 1600 30" desktop PC monitor and a 1366 x 768 tablet display.

Did I mention that this is 12-day-old A0 silicon?

Kal-El also supports stereoscopic 3D video playback, although it's unclear to me what the SoC's capabilities are for 3D capture.

I asked NVIDIA if other parts of the SoC have changed, particularly the ISP as we've seen in both the Optimus 2X and Atrix 4G articles that camera quality is pretty poor on the initial Tegra 2 phones. NVIDIA stated that both ISP performance and quality will go up in Kal-El although we don't know any more than that. NVIDIA did insist that its own development Tegra 2 platforms have good still capture quality, so what we've seen from LG and Motorola may just be limited to those implementations.


The Architecture Final Words
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  • B3an - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - link

    Android 2.3 finally, FINALLY has GPU acceleration. So the Samsung Galaxy S2 will have it for instance.

    I totally agree with you though, Google should have had GPU acceleration a long time ago, most people i know who have iPhones complain about the choppiness of Android when scrolling/animating.
    Windows Phone 7 actually has the smoothest OS of them all though, it's so well polished. MS done it literally perfectly on the first release. Android takes many versions to fix this, and it's still not as good, but atleast GPU acceleration is there now.
  • Lucian Armasu - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - link

    Only Honeycomb has full hardware acceleration. Android 2.3 has better garbage collection that has improved the speed of the UI a bit.
  • AbRASiON - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - link

    Someone listen to this guy!
    I love my Android phone but god damnit even a half decent one is a little laggy and sluggish at points.
    The iphone sucks in a lot of silly ways but it's always a smooth and consistent feel, even if it fakes it - they are clever about it.
  • BlueScreenJunky - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - link

    Well according to the sales figures that doesn't prevent Android phones from selling well so I don't see a problem from Google and the manufacturers' point of view.

    And from my point of view that's absolutely no problem at all : Since I like my phone to be responsive and I dont need 50 widgets I only have one home screen (So I can't swipe through anything) and I disabled every single animation using spareparts...
    So there's nothing left to accelerate really and now when I use a phone with the animations enabled I'm like "Why do I have to look at the page sliding or zooming in before I can actually begin to read ? It's just a waste of time !"
  • Aloonatic - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    I guess you just eat protein and vitamin pills etc? What's the point in making tasty food and chewing it? It's just a waste of time.

    I guess it's good that you are happy to live in a bland little world, but most people aren't and whether you realise that it's an issue or not, but one of the reasons why many people love LOVE (LOVE!!!!!) their Apple devices, and why they still have a strong presence in the market in spite of their price premium is because they have realised that the swoop, expanding, sliding animations make using their devices a far more fun experience, rather than just being a dull utilitarian device.

    You might be happy with what you have, but I think you're in a teeny, tiny minority when the entire market (ie not just techies) is taken into account and that's where the money is to be made. Expect Android and WinMo to try to emulate Apple as much as possible, because if they don't, they will always struggle to lure people, their wallets and their personal data that they might want to mine, away from Apple.
  • softdrinkviking - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - link

    If extra cores make browsing buttery-smooth, I'm all for it.
    They shouldn't be drawing extra power from your phone unless they are getting some tangible use anyway. (that is assuming some level of power-gating)

    I like GPU acceleration too, but there is no reason to ditch a wider architecture because it's effects are not immediately discernible by people browsing phones in the verizon store.
  • tviceman - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    The similarities with Nvidia's first products are strikingly similar to it's venture into the mobile space. Insofar as being a success,

    Tegra1 = NV1 (not successful at all)
    Tegra2 looks like it has become the RIVA 128 - huge turn around and very competitive.
    Tegra3 (Kal-El) could end up being the RIVA TNT/ TNT2 and the transition to 28nm (probably Wayne) could propel Nvidia to being the #1 mobile CPU manufacturer ---- much like what GeForce did for Nvidia.
  • djgandy - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - link

    Well they haven't sold anything yet. It's business as usual at Nvidia, delivering lots of hype and marketing.

    Considering they struggle to keep their desktop parts running cool and with low power, maybe people should focus on the key aspect of a mobile chip, battery life, rather than salivating over cherry picked CPU benchmarks and potential GPU performance which is already out there in pocket melting form.
  • bplewis24 - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - link

    They already have an article discussing Tegra2's battery life performance.

  • tim851 - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    What does Nicolas Cage's son have to do with all of this?

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