Nvidia showcases quad-core Tegra 3 silicon

Written by Paul Goodhead

February 16, 2011 | 14:20

Tags: #atom #kal-el #low-power #mobile-computing #netbook #quad-core #silicon #tablets #tegra #tegra-3

Companies: #amd #arm #nvidia

Nvidia suprised a few people last night by announcing the imminent arrival of its new quad-core mobile Tegra chip, based on the Kal-El core design.

The chip was detailed on an Nvidia roadmap just last month, but speculation has remained rife about whether the graphics giant could actually deliver what looked like an ambitious plan.

Clearly, though, Nvidia had already made a lot of progress with the design when the roadmap was released, as the company claims it's already sending silicon to prospective partners for testing.

Partners are likely to be impressed too, as Engadget claims to have seen a live demo of a device based on the chip scaling down a 2,560 x 1,440 video stream to the device's 1,366 x 768 native resolution, while simultaneously outputting the same stream at 2,560 x 1,600 on a 30in monitor. This is an impressive feat for such a dinky chip, and could herald the arrival of some seriously well-specified handheld devices.

The four processing cores are likely to be based around a beefed-up version of the ARM Cortex A9 architecture present in Nvidia’s current Tegra 2 chip, which is capable of running at up to 1.5GHz. This represents a 50 per cent increase in clock speed over the 1GHz frequency of current Tegra chips.

The GPU section of the chip has also been boosted, with a full dozen GPU ‘cores’ now present, rather than the eight in the previous design. It's hardly likely to pose a threat to the discrete graphics card sat in your desktop PC, but it should be more than capable for gaming on a small tablet or mobile device.

Would you be interested in a quad-core Tegra 3-equipped tablet? Can you see any other possible applications for such a small and powerful chip? Let us know in the forums.

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