Monday, February 28, 2011

Tegra 3 coming soon -- a 1.5GHz quad-core mobile SOC

How aggressive can NVIDIA get? That's the question puzzling our brainboxes right now as we gaze upon the complete version of the slide that let us know about a potential Tegra 2 3D chip over the weekend. It's not every day you hear of a 1.5GHz quad-core mobile SOC, but our discovery of corroborating evidence for the T25 module sitting alongside it makes us more willing to credit the possibility of a Blu-ray-crunching, 13,800 MIPS-capable, multicore Cortex-A9 Tegra 3. Moreover, the roadmap of production samples in Q4 of 2010 fits perfectly with NVIDIA's claim that Tegra 3 was "almost done" in September of that year. The ULP designation on this listing stands for Ultra Low Power in NVIDIA parlance, which would indicate an aggressively tuned power management system -- the only way we can envision a quad-core anything operating within a tablet. Fall 2011 is when we should know for sure.

The latest iteration of the system-on-a-chip (SoC) is known internally at Nvidia as Kal-El. Samples of Tegra 3 are also thought to be shipping out already.

To demonstrate that Tegra 3 is a real product ready to go, demos were shown of the new chip running in a prototype Android tablet. The first demo sees a 2560 x 1440 stream decoded and played in real-time on the tablet and can be seen in the video above. A second demo aimed to show off the new 12-core GPU capabilities with 650 enemies running around in Great Battles Medieval without the hardware breaking a sweat. That same demo is seen stuttering on an equivalent Tegra 2 tablet.

If you thought Tegra 2 was great, expect double the processing performance from Tegra 3 and triple the GPU performance. Nvidia also did a couple of its own benchmarks away from the MWC show floor demonstrating just how fast Kal-El is both in terms of processor performanc and web browsing using all four cores. That extra performance does not come at the cost of battery life according the Nvidia. The company states a typical Tegra 3 tablet will still be able to manage 12 hours of HD video playback.

If you want Tegra 3 in a tablet then you only need wait until August when Nvidia state consumer products will ship. Smartphones won’t get it until the end of the year.

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