NVIDIA's Project Kal-El: Quad-Core A9s Coming to Smartphones/Tablets This Yearby Anand Lal Shimpi on February 15, 2011 9:05 PM EST
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.
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Khato - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - linkThe only portion of the design that could be considered 'new' is the 1.5x GPU, but given NVIDIA's expertise in that area it's not too surprising that they'd have no issues executing that. The actual core changes consist of using another pre-made component, the MPE, per core and then doubling the number of cores... In other words, I'd be shocked if they got back first silicon and it -didn't- work flawlessly. That's kinda the point of licensing a design that's already fully tested and simply needs to be 'plugged in'.
As for the performance metrics demonstrated... The 'gaming' is most likely due to the improved graphics, which is unquestionable NVIDIA's strength. The "Coremark 1.0" results meanwhile are yet more amusing. If that Kal-el score is indicative of final frequency performance, then I'd expect it to still be running at 1GHz because Coremark is an unrealistic benchmark that scales linearly with number of cores. It's also basically just an integer benchmark (more information is available on their site.) aka, that benchmark implies zero per-core performance increase for Kal-el over Tegra 2.
supergoodness - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - linkBeing a HUGE Superman fan I have newfound love for NVIDIA since all these processors are codenamed superheroes.
Kal-El – Superman
Wayne – Batman
Logan – Wolverine
Stark – Ironman
I guess I am easily entertained :)
ssiu - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - linkThat is going to cause serious "Osborne effect" to all the Tegra2 tablets that are almost available now; if one can get something "5x better" in 6 months.
sarge78 - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - linkLooking forward to your analysis!
rs2 - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - linkSo nVidia is claiming better performance than a Core 2 Duo, with power consumption that is suitable for a smartphone? I find that a little hard to believe. Both Intel and AMD are still at least a couple of iterations away from that mark with their current low-power offerings, so nVidia's claims seem a bit suspect, if you ask me.
dagamer34 - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - linkThe Core 2 Duo nVidia is comparing it's chip to is about 5 years old and was originally built on the 65nm process. Tegra 3 will be a 40nm process. Going from 65nm->40nm gives you about 2.56x number of transistors to work with. Also, the T7200 wasn't exactly the fastest that Intel had to offer at the time, but the Tegra 3 is bleeding edge.
Bonesdad - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - linkcan they put Tony Stark above Bruce Wayne??? And Logan....really...
T2k - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - linkSeriously: other than shills like Anand etc does anyone else do this kinda of slave pieces like this?
I mean full of BS PR, nothing concrete, only marketing shit for NV?
fr500 - Thursday, February 17, 2011 - linkWe need a Zotac motherboard/nettop with this and a custom Android interface, use office live or whatever and you have a more than enough system for daily usage, multimedia and even casual gaming (and not so casual with gameloft ripoffs)
tkafafi - Thursday, February 17, 2011 - linkI was planning on getting a tablet this year; but waiting to see the ipad 2 specs.
Seeing how fast the soc chips are evolving is making me wonder whether I'd be better off waiting for next year. I guess that is always the case in gadget world :)
from the looks of it 2012 tablet features could include :
* quad core arm processors
* High resolution screens (ipad3 is rummored to be 4x this years model).
* LTE ? Xoom is already commited to LTE upgrade.
Hmmmm .... decisions decisions ....