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):
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.