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.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2014 - 04:24 AM | Ken Addison
Tagged: video, transporter sync, transporter, tegra k1, tegra, Samsung, podcast, nvidia, g-sync, 840 evo, 840
CES 2014 Podcast Day 1 - 01/05/14
It's time for podcast fun at CES! Join us as we talk about the first day of the show including a lot of announcements from Lenovo, the NVIDIA Tegra K1, G-Sync and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Ken Addison
Program length: 44:31
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Processors, Mobile | January 5, 2014 - 11:43 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: tegra k1, tegra, SoC, nvidia, kepler, CES 2014, CES
Update: Check out our more in-depth analysis of the Tegra K1 processor from NVIDIA.
Today during its CES 2014 press conference, NVIDIA announced the Tegra K1 SoC as the successor to the Tegra 4 processor. This new ARM-based part includes 192 Kepler-based CUDA cores, sharing the same GPU architecture as the current GeForce GTX 700-series discrete graphics cards.
NVIDIA also announced the Epic has Unreal Engine 4 up and running on the Tegra K1, bringing an entirely new class of games to mobile Android devices. We got to see some demonstrations from NVIDIA running on the K1 and I must admit the visuals were stunning. Frame rates did get a bit choppy during the subway demo of UE4 but it's still early.
As an added surprise, NVIDIA is announcing a version of Tegra K1 that ships with the same quad-core A15 (4+1) design as the Tegra 4 BUT ALSO have a version that uses two NVIDIA Denver CPU cores!! Denver is NVIDIA's custom CPU design based on the ARMv8 architecture, adding 64-bit support to another ARM partner's portfolio.
Tegra K1 is offered in two pin-to-pin compatible versions - a 32-bit quad-core (4-Plus-1 ARM Cortex-A15 CPU) and a custom, NVIDIA-designed 64-bit dual Super Core CPU. This CPU (codenamed “Project Denver”) delivers very high single-thread and multi-thread performance. Both versions deliver stunning graphics and visual computing capabilities powered by the 192-core NVIDIA Kepler GPU.
NVIDIA has only had Denver back for a few days from the fab but there able to showcase it running Android. It's been a long time since the initial announcement of this project and its great to finally see a result.
Tegra K1 with quad-core A15 processor
We'll have an in-depth story on the Tegra K1 on Monday morning, 6am PST right here on PC Perspective so check back then!!
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
NVIDIA Tegra Note Program
Clearly, NVIDIA’s Tegra line has not been as successful as the company had hoped and expected. The move for the discrete GPU giant into the highly competitive world of the tablet and phone SoCs has been slower than expected, and littered with roadblocks that were either unexpected or that NVIDIA thought would be much easier to overcome.
The truth is that this was always a long play for the company; success was never going to be overnight and anyone that thought that was likely or possible was deluded. Part of it has to do with the development cycle of the ARM ecosystem. NVIDIA is used to a rather quick development, production, marketing and sales pattern thanks to its time in high performance GPUs, but the SoC world is quite different. By the time a device based on a Tegra chip is found in the retail channel it had to go through an OEM development cycle, NVIDIA SoC development cycle and even an ARM Cortex CPU development cycle. The result is an extended time frame from initial product announcement to retail availability.
Partly due to this, and partly due to limited design wins in the mobile markets, NVIDIA has started to develop internal-designed end-user devices that utilize its Tegra SoC processors. This has the benefit of being much faster to market – while most SoC vendors develop reference platforms during the normal course of business, NVIDIA is essentially going to perfect and productize them.
Subject: Mobile | September 18, 2013 - 12:04 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: tegra note, tegra 4, tegra, tablet, pny, nvidia, evga
Over the past couple of months there have been several leaks about a potential NVIDIA-branded tablet based on the Tegra 4 SoC. Most speculated that NVIDIA had decided to enter into the hardware market directly with a "Tegra Tab" in a similar vein to the release of NVIDIA SHIELD. As it turns out though NVIDIA has created a platform for which other companies can rebrand and resell an Android tablet.
According to NVIDIA, the Tegra Note platform will enable partners to bring 7-in tablets to market packed with the feature set NVIDIA has been promising since the launch of the Tegra 4 SoC. Those include stylus support, high quality audio, HDR camera capabilities and 100% native Android operating systems.
Maybe more interesting are the partners that NVIDIA is teaming with for this launch. While companies like ASUS have already done the development work to prepare various size tablets based on Tegra chips in the past, NVIDIA is going to introduce a couple of its graphics cards partners to the mobility ecosystem: EVGA and PNY in North America.
While we have questions about the capability for either of these companies to truly support a tabletin today's market but the truth is likely that NVIDIA is handling most if not all of the logistics on this project. What is not in question is the potential for high value: these tablets will start with a suggested retail price of $199.
We already know most of the technical details about the Tegra 4 SoC including the 4+1 Cortex A15 CPU cores and the 72-core GPU. NVIDIA claims they will get 10 hours of video playback with this platform but I would like to get data on the weight and battery size before calling that a win. The display resolution is a bit lower than other competing high-end options in the market today but the sub-$200 price point does mean there had to be some corners cut.
UPDATE: I asked NVIDIA for more information on the size, weight and battery capacity and got a quick answer. The battery capacity is 4100 mAh and the entire device weighs 320g. Compared to the Google Nexus 7, the current strongest 7-in tablet in my opinion, that is a 4% larger battery (vs 3950 mAh) and 10% heavier device (vs 290g). The Tegra Note reference is also a bit thicker at 9.6mm compared to the 8.65mm of the Nexus 7.
There are more details on the official NVIDIA blog post making the announcement this morning including direct OTA Android updates so check that out if you think you might be interested in one of these tablets in the coming months!
It has come to my attention that you are planning on producing and selling a device to be called “NVIDIA SHIELD.” It should be noted that even though it shares the same name, this device has no matching attributes of the super-hero comic-based security agency. Please adjust.
When SHIELD was previewed to the world at CES in January of this year, there were a hundred questions about the device. What would it cost? Would the build quality stand up to expectations? Would the Android operating system hold up as a dedicated gaming platform? After months of waiting a SHIELD unit finally arrived in our offices in early July, giving us plenty of time (I thought) to really get a feel for the device and its strengths and weakness. As it turned out though, it still seemed like an inadequate amount of time to really gauge this product. But I am going to take a stab at it, feature by feature.
NVIDIA SHIELD aims to be a mobile gaming platform based on Android with a flip out touch-screen interface, high quality console design integrated controller, and added features like PC game streaming and Miracast support.
Initial Unboxing and Overview of Product Video
At the heart of NVIDIA SHIELD is the brand new Tegra 4 SoC, NVIDIA’s latest entry into the world of mobile processors. Tegra 4 is a quad-core, ARM Cortex-A15 based SoC that includes a 5th A15 core built on lower power optimized process technology to run background and idle tasks using less power. This is very similar to what NVIDIA did with Tegra 3’s 4+1 technology, and how ARM is tackling the problem with big.LITTLE philosophy.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | July 24, 2013 - 05:15 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Siggraph, kepler, mobile, tegra, nvidia, unreal engine 4
SIGGRAPH 2013 is wrapping up in the next couple of days but, now that NVIDIA removed the veil surrounding Mobile Kepler, people are chatting about what is to follow Tegra 4. Tim Sweeney, founder of Epic Games, contributed to NVIDIA Blogs the number of ways that certain attendees can experience Unreal Engine 4 at the show. As it turns out, NVIDIA engineers have displayed the engine both on Mobile Kepler as well as behind closed doors on desktop PCs.
Not from SIGGRAPH, this is a leak from, I believe, GTC late last March.
Also, this is Battlefield 3, not Unreal Engine 4.
Tim, obviously taking the developer standpoint, is very excited about OpenGL 4.3 support within the mobile GPU. In all, he did not say too much of note. They are targeting Unreal Engine 4 at a broad range of platforms: mobile, desktop, console, and, while absent from this editorial, web standards. Each of these platforms are settling on the same set of features, albeit with huge gaps in performance, allowing developers to focus on a scale of performance instead of a flowchart of capabilities.
Unfortunately for us, there have yet to be leaks from the trade show. We will keep you up-to-date if we find any, however.
A necessary gesture
NVIDIA views the gaming landscape as a constantly shifting medium that starts with the PC. But the company also sees mobile gaming, cloud gaming and even console gaming as part of the overall ecosystem. But that is all tied together by an investment in content – the game developers and game publishers that make the games that we play on PCs, tablets, phones and consoles.
The slide above shows NVIDIA targeting for each segment – expect for consoles obviously. NVIDIA GRID will address the cloud gaming infrastructure, GeForce and the GeForce Experience will continue with the PC systems and NVIDIA SHIELD and the Tegra SoC will get the focus for the mobile and tablet spaces. I find it interesting that NVIDIA has specifically called out Steam under the PC – maybe a hint of the future for the upcoming Steam Box?
The primary point of focus for today’s press meeting was to talk about the commitment that NVIDIA has to the gaming world and to developers. AMD has been talking up their 4-point attack on gaming that starts really with the dominance in the console markets. But NVIDIA has been the leader in the PC world for many years and doesn’t see that changing.
With several global testing facilities, the most impressive of which exists in Russia, NVIDIA tests more games, more hardware and more settings combinations than you can possibly imagine. They tune drivers and find optimal playing settings for more than 100 games that are now wrapped up into the GeForce Experience software. They write tools for developers to find software bottlenecks and test for game streaming latency (with the upcoming SHIELD). They invest more in those areas than any other hardware vendor.
This is a list of technologies that NVIDIA claims they invented or developed – an impressive list that includes things like programmable shaders, GPU compute, Boost technology and more.
Many of these turned out to be very important in the development and advancement of gaming – not for PCs but for ALL gaming.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 14, 2013 - 09:06 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: tegra 4, tegra, shield, project shield, nvidia
Solid information about the NVIDIA Shield (no longer called Project Shield) is finally becoming available with a blog post written up today on NVIDIA's website. The company will begin accepting pre-orders from users that have previously signed up for the Shield mailing list while the rest of you will have to wait until May 20th to plop down your money.
The cost? $349. Newegg, Gamestop, Micro Center and Canada Computer will carry it.
If you want to sign up for official June release schedule of the Tegra 4 powered mobile Android gaming device, you'll have to head over to shield.nvidia.com.
NVIDIA does point out in the blog that the PC game streaming feature that I truly believe is the one thing that makes Shield a compelling gaming device, will be launching as BETA feature.
And GeForce game streaming, launching as a beta feature, will give SHIELD the power to access your NVIDIA GeForce GTX GPU-powered computer from the comfort of your couch. We’re working on streaming your favorite PC games to SHIELD, including great titles from Steam.
High level features of the device, for those of you that are unaware, include:
- Tegra 4 – The world’s fastest mobile processor delivers rich graphics and unbeatable performance thanks to 72 GPU cores, four CPU cores and 2GB of RAM
- Console-grade controller – Precise control thanks to dual analog joysticks, a full-sized D-Pad, left and right analog triggers, full-sized bumpers and A/B/X/Y buttons
- Multi-touch display – 5-inch, 720p retinal multi-touch display for high-fidelity visuals
- Integrated speakers – Custom, bass reflex, tuned port audio system – we think this is SHIELD’s sleeper feature
- Wi-Fi – 802.11n 2X2 MIMO game-speed Wi-Fi for seamless game streaming
- Pure Android – Latest Android Jelly Bean operating system from Google, for access to Android games and apps
- There’s more – We put into SHIELD everything we would want in a premium mobile gaming device: 16 GB memory, GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, a mini-HDMI output, micro-USB 2.0, a microSD storage slot, a 3.5-mm stereo headphone jack. See the full spec sheet, here.
We took a look at the NVIDIA Shield device at CES this year and posted a video of our experiences, so check it out below.
NVIDIA has also posted a separate blog that talks about some of the upcoming Android games that will highlight the power of the Tegra 4 mobile processor including Broken Age and Costume Quest from Double Fine, Chuck's Challenge from Niffler and more.
I think many people at NVIDIA as well as in the media are very curious to see what the reaction of Shield will actully be upon its release. I am very excited to test it out in real-world, long term usage models but I definitely have doubts about the market's desire for another mobile gaming platform.
Leave me your thoughts in the comments below!!
Subject: Mobile | May 10, 2013 - 03:28 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: tegra 4, tegra, shield, project shield, nvidia
After the initial announcement at CES in January, NVIDIA has been trying hard to keep excitement and interest about Project Shield going. The upcoming Tegra 4-powered mobile Android-based gaming machine will be launched sometime in the summer; both Computex and E3 would make perfect timing.
NVIDIA passed us a photo of the mold for the casing of Project Shield and though you don't really get any awesome new information out of it, I thought I would share.
The photo you see below shows the production mold that's used to craft the ergonomic casing that houses Project SHIELD's high-powered components: Tegra 4, 5-inch 720p HD retinal touchscreen, Stereo Bass Reflex Speakers, WiFi, accelerometer, gyro, a massive battery, and more.
To create the casing, we inject a polycarbonate material into the RHCM (Rapid Heat Cycle Molding) tool at 10,800 PSI and 300 degrees Celsius. We use a polycarbonate mixture comprised of 90% Sabic 500ECR-739 PC and 10% glass. This material and injection molding process ensures a sturdy yet lightweight casing that will deliver hours of gaming with no fatigue.
In case you are behind on what Project Shield is, you should check out the hands-on video we made during our time with the device last January.
What do you think...are you excited about the launch of this device? Do any of its features really make you want to buy it once available?