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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  • heinzr - Thursday, February 17, 2011 - link

    How can Nvidia claim that Kal-El offers 5x Tegra performance without getting challenged? The Coremark result is better by less than 2x.
  • tecknurd - Thursday, February 17, 2011 - link

    Where is the power consumption numbers? All reviewers that I read still did not post those numbers and I was hoping to see power consumption numbers here, but did not find any. Saying that the Kal-El will have a same power consumption as Tegra 2 does not mean anything to me because I do not know how much power a Tegra 2 realistically consumes. I know how much the BeagleBoard consumes which is around 3 to 5 watts. I expect the PandaBoard to consume about double. If they are going to state the power consumption, I will just predict the power consumption of the Kal-El be around 15 watts. Is this wrong or am I right?
  • Wilco1 - Friday, February 18, 2011 - link

    At 40nm, a dual core 2GHz Cortex-A9 uses 2W. So 4 1.5GHz Cortex-A9 cores will use ~2.5-3W. So with the GPU, a total of ~4-5W seems reasonable.

    While that seems a lot, consider that the lowest power Atom needs 2W per core at 1.5GHz, and that you'll need 4 of those plus a fast GPU to get similar performance.
  • ioannis - Friday, February 18, 2011 - link

    surely Parker should have a place in that chart, don't you think? Or is he more of an AMD/ATI colour-themed hero?
  • IamEzio - Friday, February 18, 2011 - link

    the NGP has quad core Cortex A9 ..
  • dagamer34 - Saturday, February 19, 2011 - link

    Engadget's video around 3:45 has the rep clearly stating that Kal-El will support high-profile H.264. It'll also handle a Blu-ray rip (and I don't really know of any commonly used video that higher quality than that right now).


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