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  (Source: NVIDIA)

  (Source: NVIDIA)
Tablets using Kal-El will launch in August of 2011

The rate of advancement in system-on-chip (SoC) designs for smartphones and tablets is advancing at a rapid rate. It was too long ago that we were marveling at single-core designs approaching 1GHz core clocks, but we are now seeing single- and dual-core processors surpassing the 1GHz mark and the announcement of quad-core processors.

NVIDIA is the latest to throw its hat in the ring with the announcement of its Kal-El tablet processor (whether this chip will be officially called Tegra 3 has not yet been determined). NVIDIA is making some big claims with this quad-core processor (Kal-El also features a 12-core GPU):   

  • It will have 5x the performance of the current Tegra 2 SoC
  • It will have lower power consumption than Tegra 2 despite the increase in performance
  • It has the ability to output video at up to 2560x1600

A Coremark 1.0 benchmark result of Kal-El in action shows it absolutely obliterating its Tegra 2 predecessor (11,354 for Kal-El versus 5,840 for the Tegra 2). In fact, it was even faster than an Intel T7200 Core 2 Duo processor (2GHz, 4MB cache) that managed to pull in a score of 10,136.

Of course this is just a single benchmark so we shouldn't get too excited yet; but these early numbers look very promising. Also keep in mind that clock speeds have not been finalized, so we don't know exactly what kind of performance we'll be seeing in production silicon.

NVIDIA is currently sampling Kal-El, and is prepared to have the chip in production tablets by the third quarter of 2011. In comparison, Qualcomm's recently announced quad-core APQ8064 won't even sample until early 2012. 

It's interesting to note that Kal-El isn't the only "superhero" SoC that will be coming from NVIDIA -- the codenames for it follow-up designs include Wayne (2012), Logan (2013), and Stark (2014). Wayne will arrive one year after Kal-El, Logan will arrive a year after that, etc. By 2014, Stark is expected to offer 75 times the performance of Tegra 2.



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RE: wow...
By StevoLincolnite on 2/16/2011 7:50:08 AM , Rating: 2
The Core 2 Duo is only running at 2ghz with 4mb of cache with a 667mhz FSB, it's hardly what I would call a speed demon.

Plus it was a mobile chip, if we were to compare it to a desktop chip, the Core 2 Duo T7200 would be pretty much classed as a low-end chip from 2006-2007, x86 has leaped significantly since then.

So SOC's like Tegra are still at least 3-5 years behind x86 and that's just in the CPU department, they can never match a full Desktop GPU that throws out 200+ watts.


RE: wow...
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 2/16/2011 7:51:02 AM , Rating: 4
I don't really see how desktop performance is relevant to a discussion about mobile products, but it is still nice to see ARM making some huge gains on the performance front.


RE: wow...
By StevoLincolnite on 2/16/2011 8:22:07 AM , Rating: 2
It's not relevant, but it's always nice to compare theoretical performance regardless of platform sometimes. :P


RE: wow...
By dgingeri on 2/16/2011 7:59:16 AM , Rating: 3
That thing will still clobber a xeon in a 1U server for performance per watt. I'd love to have a couple of these for my domain controllers.


RE: wow...
By corduroygt on 2/16/2011 11:03:49 AM , Rating: 2
Considering the first desktop C2D chips launched at the end of 2006 at 1.86 GHz, your timeline is off.


RE: wow...
By bpharri2 on 2/16/2011 12:24:33 PM , Rating: 2
Timeline is correct:

- C2D desktop chip: July 2006
- C2D mobile (T7200): August 2006

The original poster stated that the mobile chip could be considered "low end" for 2006-2007 when compared to the desktop chips Intel was releasing. If he had said the desktop chip was low end for 2006-2007 or that the mobile chip by itself was low end, then I'd agree with you.

As it was, the C2D desktop chips Intel released before, during, and after the T7200 launch were faster as they had more cache and faster FSB.

At least, that's the way I interpreted his statement.


RE: wow...
By mindless1 on 2/18/2011 10:58:36 AM , Rating: 2
You can't really claim "low end" compared to a desktop chip, that would be like saying a car is "low end" compared to a truck if the goal is not hauling stuff but rather the power envelope for mobile use.

Regardless, the comparison is meaningless, it's just a brief look at where mobile CPUs have been and where they are going. To try and paint it black and white instead of just some marketing trivia would miss the point that it's just PR like anything else.


RE: wow...
By lifewatcher on 2/16/2011 5:28:14 PM , Rating: 2
If we go the way your logic works, we could stack up as many mobile chips, as it takes to match the power consumption of the desktop chip. Then we can once again compare the performance. I'm sure that the combined output of a box filled with power-sipping mobile chips will outright kill anything not only from 5 years ago, but also currently available. All it needs is an optimized platform to handle the gazillion chips.


RE: wow...
By mindless1 on 2/18/2011 8:57:12 AM , Rating: 2
You seem to be a little confused about processors. In LATE 2007 the semi-low end was something like a Pentium dual core E2180 while the low end was still a P4 class Celeron. In 2008 a T7200 was still faster than what was sold in the average OEM system, by average I mean by sales numbers.


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