NVIDIA Kal-El will be the first quad-core SoC based on ARM for smartphones and tablets, which besides better performance will be more efficient than Tegra 2, says NVIDIA. This was doable by distributing the work between CPU and GPU better in NVIDIA’s in-house circuit.

Tegra 3, also known as Kal-El, is expected to be the next big thing on the mobile market, and as far as we know it will be the only 40nm quad-core ARM, which gives NVIDIA an advantage of at least six months over the competition. Besides twice as many cores Kal-El will bring second generation GeForce ULP GPU with 12 cores that will bring up to five times better performance than Tegra 2.

””Kal-El is going to be world’s first quad-core [ARM] processor [for ultra-portable devices]. It has so much higher performance than Tegra 2 and at so much lower power! Very few people have internalizes that Kal-El is lower power in every use case compared to Tegra 2. So this is, it is really a great breakthrough based on the technology we call variable SMP, variable symmetric multiprocessing, that makes it possible for us to achieve much higher performance where performance is needed and much lower power in almost everything that you do,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive officer of Nvidia, during the company’s most recent conference call with financial analysts.

Specification Kal-El (Tegra 3) Tegra 2
Node 40nm 40nm
Die size
80mm2 49mm2
CPU Quad-core Cortex-A9 vid 1.5 GHz Quad-core Cortex-A9 vid 1.0 GHz
L2 cache 1MB shared 1MB shared
GPU GeForce ULP Gen 2 with 12 cores GeForce ULP with 8 cores

NVIDIA currenlty has 53 design wins with Tegra 2, but even though Kal-El is coming in, this number is expected to go up as more smartphones based on Tegra 2 are coming. It would not reveal how many design wins it has with Kal-El, but says that NVIDIA’s Tegra market has better momentum than ever before. Considering the slow start Tegra 2 got before Google decided to use it as the reference for Android 3.0 ”Honeycomb” it is hard to believe that Kal-El will get the same reception when it arrives.

The successor to ASUS Transformer is expected to be first with NVIDIA Kal-El

Kal-El is slated to appear in products next month, possibly sometime in October. Fudzilla reports once again that ASUS Transformer 2 will be the first tablet to use Kal-El. Those of you who doesn’t know ASUS Transformer, it is a tablet with a docking station that offers keyboard and integrated battery for twice the battery time. ASUS Transformer today sports NVIDIA Tegra 2, just like most other Android 3.x tablets.

What it implies with variable-SMP is in principle what AMD is trying to achieve with its x86 Fusion project. Kal-El can split the workload between CPU and GPU more efficiently than the previous model says NVIDIA, which makes it possible to lower power consumption radically, while also boosting performance.

Source: XbitLabs

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