Once known as Logan, now known as K1
NVIDIA has bet big on Tegra. Since the introduction of the SoC's first iteration, that much was clear. With the industry push to mobile computing and the decreased importance of the classic PC design, developing and gaining traction with a mobile processor was not only an expansion of the company’s portfolio but a critical shift in the mindset of a graphics giant.
The problem thus far is that while NVIDIA continues to enjoy success in the markets of workstation and consumer discrete graphics, the Tegra line of silicon-on-chip processors has faltered. Design wins have been tough to come by. Other companies with feet already firmly planted on this side of the hardware fence continue to innovate and seal deals with customers. Qualcomm is the dominant player for mobile processors with Samsung, MediaTek, and others all fighting for the same customers NVIDIA needs. While press conferences and releases have been all smiles and sunshine since day one, the truth is that Tegra hasn’t grown at the rate NVIDIA had hoped.
Solid products based on NVIDIA Tegra processors have been released. The first Google Nexus 7 used the Tegra 3 processor, and was considered the best Android tablet on the market by most, until it was succeeded by the 2013 iteration of the Nexus 7 this year. Tegra 4 slipped backwards, though – the NVIDIA SHIELD mobile gaming device was the answer for a company eager to show the market they built compelling and relevant hardware. It has only partially succeeded in that task.
With today’s announcement of the Tegra K1, previously known as Logan or Tegra 5, NVIDIA hopes to once again spark a fire under partners and developers, showing them that NVIDIA’s dominance in the graphics fields of the PC has clear benefits to the mobile segment as well. During a meeting with NVIDIA about Tegra K1, Dan Vivoli, Senior VP of marketing and a 16 year employee, equated the release of the K1 to the original GeForce GPU. That is a lofty ambition and puts of a lot pressure on the entire Tegra team, not to mention the K1 product itself, to live up to.
Tegra K1 Overview
What we previously knew as Logan or Tegra 5 (and actually it was called Tegra 5 until just a couple of days ago), is now being released as the Tegra K1. The ‘K’ designation indicated the graphics architecture that powers the SoC, in this case Kepler. Also, it’s the first one. So, K1.
The processor of the Tegra K1 look very familiar and include four ARM Cortex-A15 “r3” cores and 2MB of L2 cache with a fifth A15 core used for lower power situations. This 4+1 design is the same that was introduced with the Tegra 4 processor last year and allows NVIDIA to implement a style of “big.LITTLE” design that is unique. Some slight modifications to the cores are included with Tegra K1 that improve performance and efficiency, but not by much – the main CPU is very similar to the Tegra 4.
NVIDIA also unveiled late last night that another version of the Tegra K1 that replaces the quad A15 cores with two of the company's custom designs Denver CPU cores. Project Denver, announced in early 2011, is NVIDIA's attempt at building its own core design based on the ARMv8 64-bit ISA. This puts this iteration of Tegra K1 on the same level as Apple's A7 and Qualcomm's Krait processors. When these are finally available in the wild it will be incredibly intriguing to see how well NVIDIA's architects did in the first true CPU design from the GPU giant.
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December 31, 2013 - 12:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
2013 has been an incredible year and when looking at The Inquirer's look back on the releases of this year it is hard to believe that all of these releases took place in 12 short months. Haswell and Richland were the only two traditional CPU architecture updates for high powered desktop applications which stymied the enthusiasm of some gamers but the real star of 2013 was low powered silicon. ARM has always held strong in this market and celebrated several major releases such as 28nm dual core Cortex A15s and Qualcomm's raising of the bar on mobile graphics with the dual-core and quad-core Snapdragon 400 chips but they lost market share to three newcomers to the low powered market. NVIDIA's quad-core Tegra 4 SoC arrived with decent performance and graphics improvements compared to their previous generation and allowed the release of the Shield which has helped them become more than a GPU company that is also dipping its toes into the HPC market. AMD announced the G series of SoCs for industrial applications with a TDP in the neighbourhood of 6W as well as Temash which will power next generation tablets and hybrid mobile devices but it was really Intel that shone brightest at the low end. Bay Trail has completely reversed the perception of Atom from a product that is not really good at anything to an impressive low powered chip that provides impressive performance for small mobile devices and might find its self a role in the server room as well. That only scratches the top layer of silicon, click over for more of the year in review.
"While Intel and AMD battled out their ongoing war, Nvidia took the stage to announce its latest Tegra 4 system on a chip (SoC), a quad-core chip with a significant graphics boost. The firm did its best to play down the fact that its Tegra 4 has the same CPU core count as its previous-generation Tegra 3, and instead it focused on GPU performance, an area where the Tegra 3 was starting to look dated against newer chips from rivals such as Samsung."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Goodbye, consoles @ The Tech Report
- Intel Releases A Boatload Of Haswell Documentation @ Phoronix
- Apple’s Newest Mac Pro Costs Less than DIY PC Build… Thanks to AMD @ Techgage
- Open-Source AMD Radeon Graphics Had A Wonderful 2013 @ Phoronix
- BlackBerry CEO John Chen: Y'know what, we'll go back to enterprise stuff @ The Register
- Joke no more: Comedy virty currency Dogecoin gets real in big Xmas heist @ The Register
- Rollei S-50 Wi-Fi Nitro Circus Live Limited Edition Action Camera @ NikKTech
- How To Fix Whatsapp Chat History Corruption @ Tech ARP
- KitGuru Annual Hardware Awards 2013
- Pittasoft BlackVue DR550GW-2CH Car Dashcam @ NikKTech
December 15, 2013 - 01:27 AM | Scott Michaud
Amazon, Facebook, and Google are three members of a fairly exclusive club. These three companies order custom server processors from Intel (and other companies). Jason Waxman of Intel was quoted by Wired, "Sometimes OEMs and end customers ask us to put a feature into the silicon and it sort of depends upon how big a deal it is and whether it has to be invisible or proprietary to a customer. We're always happy to, if we can find a way to get it into the silicon".
Now, it would seem, that Google is interested in developing their own server processors based on architecture licensed from ARM. This could be a big deal for Intel as Bloomberg believes Google accounts for a whole 4.3% of the chip giant's revenue.
Of course this probably does not mean Google will spring up a fabrication lab somewhere. That would just be nutty. It is still unclear whether they will cut in ARM design houses, such as AMD or Qualcomm, or whether they will take ARM's design and run straight to TSMC, GlobalFoundries, or IBM with it.
I am sure there would be many takers for some sizable fraction of 4.3% of Intel's revenue.
December 13, 2013 - 10:55 PM | Scott Michaud
The ARMv8 architecture extends the hardware platform to 64-bit. This increase is mostly useful to address massive amounts of memory but can also have other benefits for performance. I think many of us remember the excitement prior to x86-64 and the subsequent let-down when we realized that, for most applications, typical vector extensions kept up in performance especially considering the compatibility issues of the day. It needed to happen but it was a hard sell until... it was just ubiquitous.
AMD has not kept it secret that they are developing 64-bit ARM processors for data centers but, until this week, further details were scarce. Under the codename, "Seattle", these processors will be available in four and eight cores. The Opteron branding will expand beyond x86 to include these new processors. The pitch to enterprises is simple: want both ARM and x86? Why bother with two vendors!
Seattle will also support up to 128GB of ECC memory and 10 Gigabit Ethernet for dense, but power efficient, compute clusters. It will be manufactured on the 28nm process.
The majority of AMD's blog post proclaimed its commitment to software support and it is definitely true that they hold a very high status in both the Linux and Apache Foundations. ARMv8 is supported in Linux starting with kernel 3.7.
Seattle is expected to launch in the second half of 2014.
December 13, 2013 - 10:08 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Geomerics may not be a name that springs immediately to mind when you think of gaming but they are the ones behind the lighting effects in the last two Battlefield games as well as Medal of Honour. Today we hear that ARM has just bought that company lock, stock and barrel which could mean very good things for gaming on mobile devices using ARM processors. The company should be able to optimize high end tricks like global illumination and reflections for ARM processors to give the next generation of games impressive visuals without too much of a hit on performance. As The Inquirer points out, the most popular mobile game remains Angry Birds; maybe the next update will feature god rays.
"ARM bought Geomerics, which specialises in lighting for the games development industry, for an undisclosed sum with a view to adding further to its mobile development capabilities."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Valve releases its Steam operating system (sort of) @ The Inquirer
- Wikipedia's Lamest Edit Wars @ Slashdo
- TSMC moves 16nm FinFET to risk production @ DigiTimes
- Ghosts of Christmas Past: Ten tech treats from yesteryear @ The Register
- A Look at Mac Hypervisors: Parallels Desktop 9 & VMware Fusion 6 @ Techgage
- SCREEECH! Dell spins in public cloud U-turn – now it'll resell Google, Azure @ The Register
- Win a LSI Nytro™ MegaRAID® 8120-4i PCIe 3.0 800GB Card @ SSD Review
December 3, 2013 - 10:58 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Both the 8" and 10" models of the Lenovo Yoga tablet have a 1280x800 IPS display and run on a 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A7 processor, sport 1GB of DDR2 and have 16GB of onboard storage. The only difference apart from the size of the tablet is the battery 9000mAh on the larger model as compared to 6000mAh on the 8". Benchmark Reviews liked the rather unique look of the tablet though they would have preferred a newer version of Android and a higher resolution screen to be available. Check out the OS and included apps in their full review.
"The Android-based tablet market is exploding, with new entries almost every day. We’re even seeing what once were dedicated e-readers, like the Nook and Kindle, re-marketed as general purpose tablets. Lenovo’s been in this market for a while, and thus it’s no surprise to see them introduce another entry, the Lenovo Yoga tablet computers."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Amazon Kindle Paperwhite E-reader @ Benchmark Reviews
- Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 @ The Inquirer
- Advent Vega Tegra Note 7 @ The Inquirer
- Google Nexus 5: The TechSpot Review
- iPad Air vs iPad 4 head to head @ The Inquirer
- MSI Primo 81 (Snow White) 8" Tablet @ Kitguru
- Apple iPad Air: The TechSpot Review
- The HTC One Max Tech Report @ TechARP
- Motorola Moto G @ The Inquirer
- Patriot Fuel+ 9000mAh Mobile Rechargeable Battery @ eTeknix
November 27, 2013 - 09:50 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Chips are hot this year, an increase in sales volume of 27% in Q1, 24% in Q2 and similar growth is expected over the coming year. Unfortunately for AMD and Intel most of these chips are in mobile devices, a market which neither company has leveraged successfully as of yet; PC chip sales have declined steadily over the previous quarters. The only good news is for AMD who managed to take a slightly larger share of this shrinking market. Both companies are going to have to become much more focussed on the ultra low voltage mobile market if they want to remain profitable, which means less development on high end desktop processors. Grab more market stats over at The Inquirer.
"PROCESSOR CHIP SALES will increase by almost quarter this year thanks to the growing demand for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, analyst outfit IHS has predicted."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Open-Source NVIDIA Driver Works On Some GeForce 700 GPUs, Fails On Others @ Phoronix
- Windows CE On A Raspberry Pi @ Hack a Day
- CIOs, IT chiefs: ARRGH! What do you MEAN, HR just bought 400 iPads and didn't tell us @ The Register
- Netgear R6250 Dual Band Gigabit Smart WiFi Router @ eTeknix
- Rosewill RPLC-200PKIT Powerline Adapter Kit @ Benchmark Reviews
Subject: General Tech | October 31, 2013 - 12:48 PM | Ken Addison
PC Perspective Podcast #275 - 10/31/2013
Join us this week as we discuss the AMD Radeon R9 290X, ARMTechCon 2013, NVIDIA Pricedrops and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano
October 29, 2013 - 09:24 AM | Ryan Shrout
In February of this year Intel and Altera announced that they would be partnering to build Altera FPGAs using the upcoming Intel 14nm tri-gate process technology. The deal was important for the industry as it marked one of the first times Intel has shared its process technology with another processor company. Seen as the company's most valuable asset, the decision to outsource work in the Intel fabrication facilities could have drastic ramifications for Intel's computing divisions and the industry as a whole. This seems to back up the speculation that Intel is having a hard time keeping their Fabs at anywhere near 100% utilization with only in-house designs.
Today though, news is coming out that Altera is going to be included ARM-based processing cores, specifically those based on the ARMv8 64-bit architecture. Starting in 2014 Altera's high-end Stratix 10 FPGA that uses four ARM Cortex-A53 cores will be produced by Intel fabs.
The deal may give Intel pause about its outsourcing strategy. To date the chip giant has experimented with offering its leading-edge fab processes as foundry services to a handful of chip designers, Altera being one of its largest planned customers to date.
Altera believes that by combing the ARMv8 A53 cores and Intel's 14nm tri-gate transistors they will be able to provide FPGA performance that is "two times the core performance" of current high-end 28nm options.
While this news might upset some people internally at Intel's architecture divisions, the news couldn't be better for ARM. Intel is universally recognized as being the process technology leader, generally a full process node ahead of the competition from TSMC and GlobalFoundries. I already learned yesterday that many of ARM's partners are skipping the 20nm technology from non-Intel foundries and instead are looking towards the 14/16nm FinFET transitions coming in late 2014.
ARM has been working with essentially every major foundry in the business EXCEPT Intel and many viewed Intel's chances of taking over the mobile/tablet/phone space as dependent on its process technology advantage. But if Intel continues to open up its facilities to the highest bidders, even if those customers are building ARM-based designs, then it could drastically improve the outlook for ARM's many partners.
UPDATE (7:57pm): After further talks with various parties there are a few clarifications that I wanted to make sure were added to our story. First, Altera's FPGAs are primarly focused on the markets of communication, industrial, military, etc. They are not really used as application processors and thus are not going to directly compete with Intel's processors in the phone/tablet space. It remains to be seen if Intel will open its foundries to a directly competing product but for now this announcement regarding the upcoming Stratix 10 FPGA on Intel's 14nm tri-gate is an interesting progression.
ARM is Serious About Graphics
Ask most computer users from 10 years ago who ARM is, and very few would give the correct answer. Some well informed people might mention “Intel” and “StrongARM” or “XScale”, but ARM remained a shadowy presence until we saw the rise of the Smartphone. Since then, ARM has built up their brand, much to the chagrin of companies like Intel and AMD. Partners such as Samsung, Apple, Qualcomm, MediaTek, Rockchip, and NVIDIA have all worked with ARM to produce chips based on the ARMv7 architecture, with Apple being the first to release the first ARMv8 (64 bit) SOCs. The multitude of ARM architectures are likely the most shipped chips in the world, going from very basic processors to the very latest Apple A7 SOC.
The ARMv7 and ARMv8 architectures are very power efficient, yet provide enough performance to handle the vast majority of tasks utilized on smartphones and tablets (as well as a handful of laptops). With the growth of visual computing, ARM also dedicated itself towards designing competent graphics portions of their chips. The Mali architecture is aimed at being an affordable option for those without access to their own graphics design groups (NVIDIA, Qualcomm), but competitive with others that are willing to license their IP out (Imagination Technologies).
ARM was in fact one of the first to license out the very latest graphics technology to partners in the form of the Mali-T600 series of products. These modules were among the first to support OpenGL ES 3.0 (compatible with 2.0 and 1.1) and DirectX 11. The T600 architecture is very comparable to Imagination Technologies’ Series 6 and the Qualcomm Adreno 300 series of products. Currently NVIDIA does not have a unified mobile architecture in production that supports OpenGL ES 3.0/DX11, but they are adapting the Kepler architecture to mobile and will be licensing it to interested parties. Qualcomm does not license out Adreno after buying that group from AMD (Adreno is an anagram of Radeon).