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Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9 Android Tablet Review - Utilizing NVIDIA Tegra K1 SoC

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Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Xiaomi

The First with the Tegra K1 Processor

Back in May a Chinese company announced what was then the first and only product based on NVIDIA’s Tegra K1 SoC, the Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9. Since then we have had a couple of other products hit our news wire including Google’s own Project Tango development tablet. But the Xiaomi is the first to actually be released, selling through 50,000 units in four minutes according to some reports. I happened to find one on Aliexpress.com, a Chinese sell-through website, and after a few short days the DHL deliveryman dropped the Tegra K1 powered machine off at my door.

If you are like me, the Xiaomi name was a new one. A privately owned company from Beijing and has become one of China’s largest electronics companies, jumping into the smartphone market in 2011. The Mi Pad marks the company’s first attempt at a tablet device, and the partnership with NVIDIA to be an early seller of the Tegra K1 seems to be making waves.

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The Tegra K1 Processor

The Tegra K1 SoC was first revealed at CES in January of 2014, and with it came a heavy burden of expectation from NVIDIA directly, as well as from investors and the media. The first SoC from the Tegra family to have a GPU built from the ground up by NVIDIA engineers, the Tegra K1 gets its name from the Kepler family of GPUs. It also happens to get the base of its architecture there as well.

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.

The focus on the Tegra K1 will be on the GPU, now powered by NVIDIA’s Kepler architecture.  The K1 features 192 CUDA cores with a very similar design to a single SMX on today’s GeForce GTX 700-series graphics cards.  This includes OpenGL ES3.0 support but much more importantly, OpenGL 4.4 and DirectX 11 integration.  The ambition of bringing modern, quality PC gaming to mobile devices is going to be closer than you ever thought possible with this product and the demos I have seen running on reference designs are enough to leave your jaw on the floor.

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By far the most impressive part of Tegra K1 is the implementation of a full Kepler SMX onto a chip that will be running well under 2 watts.  While it has been the plan from NVIDIA to merge the primary GPU architectures between mobile and discrete, this choice did not come without some risk.  When the company was building the first Tegra part it basically had to make a hedge on where the world of mobile technology would be in 2015.  NVIDIA might have continued to evolve and change the initial GPU IP that was used in Tegra 1, adding feature support and increasing the required die area to improve overall GPU performance, but instead they opted to position a “merge point” with Kepler in 2014.  The team at NVIDIA saw that they were within reach of the discontinuity point we are seeing today with Tegra K1, but in truth they had to suffer through the first iterations of Tegra GPU designs that they knew were inferior to the design coming with Kepler.

You can read much more on the technical detail of the Tegra K1 SoC by heading over to our launch article that goes into the updated CPU design, as well as giving you all the gore behind the Kepler integration.

By far the most interesting aspect of the Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9 tablet is the decsion to integrate the Tegra K1 processor. Performance and battery life comparisons with other 7 to 8-in tablets will likely not impact how it sells in China, but the results may mean the world to NVIDIA as they implore other vendors to integrate the SoC.

Continue reading our review of the Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9 tablet powered by Tegra K1!!

July 20, 2014 | 01:43 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

http://videocardz.com/51059/nvidia-extends-shield-family-shield-tablet-w...

Better than Xiaomi MiPAD and their crappy Android skin, stock Android, fully updated by Nvidia through OTA updates to the latest Android versions.

July 20, 2014 | 05:51 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The tablet design looks like a rip-off of HTC One

July 20, 2014 | 09:24 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

That would be....because it is being made by HTC.

July 22, 2014 | 01:02 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Goes to show that HTC was smart enough not to make one but rather build it for them. Didn't want its name on a disaster.

LOL.

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July 20, 2014 | 06:35 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Let's hold on and see if they have more success with this one. Historically, they have been too far on the higher performance / low battery life side of the power tradeoff to really get many phone and tablet makers to use their chips. I have never really heard of Xonami - they need design wins from Lenovo or HTC would be more impressive.

July 20, 2014 | 06:39 PM - Posted by JohnGR

"I think I can get away with telling you that other tablets using this SoC will be available pretty soon domestically, so you should probably wait for something you can pick up on Amazon or Newegg."

Everyone who read tech sites know by now than Nvidia's own Tablet comes at 22 of this month and it will be available in US in the 29th and in Europe from August 14. If they didn't, well, Google is a few clicks away :D

July 20, 2014 | 10:43 PM - Posted by Angry

There's also this wonderful thing called an NDA...

July 21, 2014 | 04:10 AM - Posted by JohnGR

Yes I know. But I am not under NDA and I am sure that people who read PCPerspective will appreciate the info. And not only them.

August 1, 2014 | 01:34 AM - Posted by john8990 (not verified)

Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKv3hyeSzkc

July 20, 2014 | 10:26 PM - Posted by AMDBumLover (not verified)

what about max power draw?

July 21, 2014 | 01:02 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Same problem we see with all of nvidia's soc offerings. High power consumption vs the competition.

The review also is using last-gen competitor's soc based products against nvidia's newest.

Unfortunately not much will change in the mobile space with nvidia relegated to being a very small player gasping for any share.

July 21, 2014 | 02:02 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You're so wrong.

Xiaomi already sold out their entire first batch of MiPads with Tegra K1 and is on track to sell millions of them.

The next-gen Google Nexus tablet will use Tegra K1, that alone makes it very high volume product. Niche my ass.

But I guess haters gonna hate successful companies like Nvidia.

July 21, 2014 | 03:46 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The -rumor- of the next Nexus using Tegra was just that, a rumor. Has since been debunked.

Try not to make up fallacy predictions on sales of an unknown tablet maker from China as well, please.

nvidia is a very tiny player in the mobile space and that is not going to change. kudos to them on making a good soc, the reality is that is not enough for them to see any real success, as has been the case since tegra's first launch.

nvidia is a very small fish in a pond filled with sharks like Qualcomm and Samsung.

I assume you are either an nvidia stockholder or simple fanboy, perhaps a mix of both.

July 21, 2014 | 05:07 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Go back to AlwaysInnaccurate, Charlie.

Nvidia will sell millions and millions of super power efficient Tegra K1 SoCs and there's nothing you can do about it.

July 21, 2014 | 09:39 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

If they can get these tablets running Steam OS they can sell, but Nvidia's CEO loves the control and closed ecosystem, and that will blow up in his face! The K1 may not be as power efficient as the other tablets, but that may be more a factor of the GPU, and less a factor of the CPU. Graphics wise the K1 is probably the best, but the PowerVR wizard, with hardware ray tracing, has yet to make it to market on any SOCs, and I hope it can get some design wins. Apple is going to release the A8, in a few months, but Apple needs to get a pro tablet, that can run the Full OSX, and the graphics programs that run on OSX, otherwise the market on the highest end will continue to be with M$, and Intel, overpriced even more so that Apple. These devices have to be available for more than just gaming, the K1 especially, would make a fine low cost graphics tablet, if it came with a full Linux distro.

July 21, 2014 | 04:24 AM - Posted by JohnGR

Yes they sold the first 50000 to Chinese resellers, who expect to make a good profit on eBay from those. Xiaomi didn't sold out to individual customers like you(I guess) and me.

July 21, 2014 | 04:21 AM - Posted by JohnGR

Nvidia is moving away from smartphones and maybe later tablets. I huge gpu advantage, is no advantage at all, on a tiny screen.

Nvidia is moving with Tegra to Chromebooks, notebooks, AIOs, convertibles and eventually they will come to desktop, with a full ARM based platform, where you would be able to add one or more hi end Nvidia cards and have the perfect Steam machine.

They are tiny in the smartphone arena, but they are going to become a big threat to Intel and Microsoft in the future. The funny part here is that Intel will desperately need a strong AMD alive and kicking in the GPU market, or Nvidia will grab all the gaming PC market for themselves, with the help of Steam OS.

July 21, 2014 | 01:44 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

How about some throttling tests? Going by your power consumption testing this chip must be really hot and unable to perform 100% for longer than 5 minutes.

This chip isn't suitable for a tablet and much less for a phone.

July 21, 2014 | 03:26 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Are there some Charlie's disciples hanging around here posting dribble infused rants and comments?

I've just seen a glimpse of what this SoC can do and is remarkable, should've removed any doubts. It's a shame that still people don't believe what's in front of their eyes.

July 21, 2014 | 04:44 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

We all seen what's this. A power hungry chip with overkill GPU performance. Phones are out of the question because of the power consumption and the lack of connectivity. If Tegra 4 wasn't good enough for phones this is even worse.

Nvidia just can't read the mobile market at all with software so far behind. Having the power consumption in check with somewhat less GPU power would have made a way better SoC.

Anandtech does throttling testing in their reviews so we will find out tomorrow.

July 21, 2014 | 04:00 AM - Posted by Ed (not verified)

Xiaomi actually has a great track record of updates. They were into software before hardware.

I just got a Xioami Mi3 phone, and the price/performance can not be beat. Their android implementation is also pretty slick, and I've actually flashed it into an older android phone after playing around with the Mi3.

The only question in my mind is after sales support. Their online software support is pretty good though.

July 21, 2014 | 09:22 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Call me when they get a full Linux distro running on this tablet, With Android it is just a toy! Get Steam OS running on it! Nvidia if you want this to be a real factor in the tablet market, do not go all in with Android, get some tablets running full Linux and graphics programs, and widen the market for the K1, I hope they get the Denver K1 version into tablets, and some real OS distros running on them.

July 21, 2014 | 03:31 PM - Posted by ZoA (not verified)

If there is one thing K1 proves is that TDP/power consumption is still the single most important factor deciding if mobile chip succeeds or fails in the market. Powerful graphic sound nice on paper, but at the end of day all it gets you is heavier and hotter pad/phone with shorter battery life.

Lets be serious, pads are only for causal gamers, and they typically don't give half a steaming turd about graphic performance of their games. Candy crush and gazillion tower deference clones don't need good graphic or compute, so K1 advantage is completely wasted on them. But on another side those casual gamers will not appreciate shorter battery life or warmer pad, nor are they likely to appreciate higher $ tag that comes with nvida chips.

Also why do OM still make pads without GPS? Who would buy pad without GPS? $300+ for 8''pad without GPS, they must be insane.

August 3, 2014 | 09:49 AM - Posted by atintop (not verified)

The next step for Xiaomi? To certify its products to Europe and start sending weekly containers of products to implement directly from us through a local distribution company, the brand choice and many dealers are waiting it.

____________________________________
iphone 5s prix

August 5, 2014 | 02:12 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Had the Nvidia K1 shield Tab. Really nice but man did it ever suck down the battery. Paid $300 for 16.. bought the Mi pad just a tad over $300 for 64gb. Little bigger screen battery life is so much better. It has a little bigger battery.

Yes the Nvidia Shield tab has allot going for it but for ME..I could not get around the battery life. Playing games.. be lucky to get 2-3 hours. Yes that bad. Gets REALLY HOT! Worse then the Tegra 4. Mi Pad gets just as hot. But I really like it better.

August 9, 2014 | 05:55 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Xiaomi has just launched its upcoming Mi Pad 3 which is actually having a tremendous features. Wanna know its pricing. visit here - http://goo.gl/mo4JvG

August 12, 2014 | 05:29 AM - Posted by Rizwan Ellahi (not verified)

Had the Nvidia K1 shield Tab. Really nice but man did it ever suck down the battery. Paid $300 for 16.. bought the Mi pad just a tad over $300 for 64gb. Little bigger screen battery life is so much better. It has a little bigger battery.

Yes the Nvidia Shield tab has allot going for it but for ME..I could not get around the battery life. Playing games.. be lucky to get 2-3 hours. Yes that bad. Gets REALLY HOT! Worse then the Tegra 4. Mi Pad gets just as hot. But I really like it better.

How to Root the and install Custom Recovery on the Xiaomi Mi3

August 14, 2014 | 08:47 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

As a mipad owner for me personally the main trick is the 4:3 retina screen. I don't play games anyway on the tablet, mainly use it for internet, mail, pdf/ebook reading. And for that the screen is awesome.

And about the K1, sure... it's prolly overkill in the gpu department (it at least is for me) but it's still one hell of a chip if you don't use it at 100% all the time and I sure don't.

It has the power when needed for me can chill pretty muchthe rest of the time. As a result I have never felt it as hot or anything.

As far as support goes, still quite a bit of work on the software department but very usable already and they release a weekly developer rom update so that's pretty awesome as well.

August 23, 2014 | 11:41 AM - Posted by Basavaraj (not verified)

Let I know price

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