Google Nexus 9 Powered by NVIDIA Tegra K1, Denver 64-bit SoC

Subject: Mobile | October 15, 2014 - 01:10 PM |
Tagged: tegra k1, tegra, nvidia, nexus 9, Nexus, google, Denver

Along with the announcement of the Google Nexus 6 phone, Google is also announcing a new tablet, the Nexus 9. Sporting an 8.9-in IPS screen with a 2048x1536 resolution (4:3 standing strong!), a 6700 mAh battery as well as the new Android Lollipop operating system, perhaps the most interesting specification is that it is built around NVIDIA's Tegra K1 SoC. Specifically, the 64-bit version based on the dual-core custom built Denver design, marking that architectures first release in shipping product.

UPDATE: has the Google Nexus 9 up for pre-order in both 16GB and 32GB capacities!

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Tegra K1 using 64-bit Denver cores are unique in that it marks the first time NVIDIA has not used off-the-shelf cores from ARM in it's SoC designs. We also know, based on Tim's news post on PC Perspective in August, that the architecture is using a 7-way superscalar design and actually runs a custom instruction set that gets translated to ARMv8 in real-time. 

A software layer and 128MB cache enhance the Dynamic Code Optimization technology by allowing the processor to examine and optimize the ARM code, convert it to the custom instruction set, and further cache the converted microcode of frequently used applications in a cache (which can be bypassed for infrequently processed code). Using the wider execution engine and Dynamic Code Optimization (which is transparent to ARM developers and does not require updated applications), NVIDIA touts the dual Denver core Tegra K1 as being at least as powerful as the quad and octo-core packing competition.

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It is great news for NVIDIA that Google is using this version of the Tegra K1 (can we please just get a different name for this version of the chip) as it indicates Google's commitment to the architecture in Android going forward, opening doors for the parts integration with even more devices with other hardware vendors moving forward. 

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More than likely built by HTC, the Nexus 9 will ship in three different colors (black, white and beige) and has a lot of callbacks to the Nexus 7, one of if not THE most popular Android tablet on the market. The tablet has front-facing speakers which should make it good for headphone-free media consumption when necessary. You'll be able put the Nexus 9 into a working mode easily with a new magnetically attached keyboard dock, similar to the iPad accessories widely available.

The Nexus 9 weighs in at 425g (the iPad Air weighs 478g), will have 16GB and 32GB capacity options, going up for preorder on 10/17 and shipping by 11/03. Google will sell both a 32GB Wi-Fi and 32GB LTE model with the LTE version (as well as the Sand color) shipping "later this year." Pricing is set at $399 for the 16GB model, $479 for the 32GB model and $599 for the 32GB+LTE version. That is quite a price hike for LTE capability and the $80 gap between the 16GB and 32GB options is annoying as well.

 Screen  8.9" IPS LCD TFT 4:3 aspect ratio QXGA (2048x1536) 
 Size  153.68 mm x 228.25 mm x 7.95 mm  
 Weight  WiFi: 14.99 ounces (425g) LTE: 15.38 ounces (436g) 
 Camera  Rear Camera: 8MP, f/2.4, 29.2mm focal length (35mm equiv), Auto-focus, LED flash Front Camera: 1.6MP, f/2.4, 26.1mm focal length (35mm equiv), Fixed-focus, no flash 
 Audio  Front-facing stereo speakers, complete with HTC’s BoomSound™ technology
 Memory  16, 32 GB eMMC 4.51 storage (actual formatted capacity will be less)  
 CPU  NVIDIA Tegra K1 - 64 bit; Dual Denver CPUs @ 2.3 GHz 
 GPU  Kepler 192-core GPU 
 Wireless  Broadcom 802.11ac 2x2 (MIMO)


 Network  Quad-band GSM, CDMA, Penta-band HSPA, 4G LTE
 Power**  6700 mAh Wifi Browsing: Up to 9.5 hours LTE Browsing: Up to 8.5 hours Video Playback: Up to 9.5 hours Wifi Standby: Up to 30 days LTE Standby: Up to 30 days
 Sensors  GNSS support for GPS, GLONASS, and Beidou Bosch gyroscope and accelerometer AKM magnetometer & hall effect sensor Capella ambient light sensor
 Ports & Connectors  Single micro-USB 2.0 for USB data/charging 3.5mm audio jack Dual front-facing speakers Dual microphones, top/bottom 
 OS  Android 5.0 Lollipop
Source: Google Nexus

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October 15, 2014 | 01:59 PM - Posted by Robogeoff (not verified)

For those of us who don't pay much attention to SoCs, what kind of performance can we expect from a Tegra K1 with that screen and battery size?

October 15, 2014 | 04:31 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

it's the most powerful soc currently available ,by far

October 15, 2014 | 04:52 PM - Posted by arbiter

CPU wise it was on par with pretty much any of the fastest ARM cpu's out there, even Apple's. GPU side is where it kills anything that goes against it cause they used Gpu shader cores from kepler series of video cards to back it. Down side means its thermals are what could be a little to high for a phone so really has to be in some bigger like a tablet, and power draw is a little higher as well. Tablet will have the battery to take care of it.

here was a review of a tablet with a k1,

October 15, 2014 | 05:00 PM - Posted by Wendigo (not verified)

This isn't the 64 bits version of the K1, it's the 32 bits version with a Quad Core of A15.

Its cpu performance (32 bits) doesn't represent the performance of the 64 bits K1.

October 15, 2014 | 05:11 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

NVIDIA Tegra K1 - 64 bit; Dual Denver CPUs @ 2.3 GHz

As stated in the article, and in many review sites, this is the full 64-bit Nvidia SoC.

October 15, 2014 | 06:47 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yes props to PcPer for listing the specs, many of the other websites only mention the K1 name, and neglect to mention the proper K1 variant, even the Register(shame on you). Nvidia should have named the Denver variant the K1-A, in order to disambiguate the custom Denver dual core version from the 4 core version with the 32 bit ARM reference cores! the Hot Chips symposium presentation lists the Denver K1 core as having the ability to process 7+ IPC, as well as some other unique features in Nvidia's implementation of its custom microarchitecture that that executes the ARMv8 ISA. The Denver variant will not benchmark the same, but dew to the so called Tech press, important technical details were left out! The GPU is the same across both variants, but the cores on the Denver SKU should give the GPU, and games something extra. At least there should be enough Denver core benchmarking happening to make up for the lack of proper technical reporting skills! Anand Lal Shimpi, your reviews will be missed. From now on any CPU/PC Tech Website that does not offer coverage of the Hot Chips symposium, is a tech site in name only!!!

October 15, 2014 | 05:42 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

No one knows yet, which is why everyone is excitrd to find out. How well this CPU does may possibly decide the fate of Tegra line.

October 15, 2014 | 01:59 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

"2048x1536 resolution"

Apple is going to sue them. lol.

October 16, 2014 | 01:53 AM - Posted by Mark Harry (not verified)

Obviously, it has rounded corners too. I'm going to buy one, not because I need it, but because I buy things from people I like and I don't like crApple.

October 17, 2014 | 06:59 PM - Posted by Kyon CoraeL (not verified)

I wouldn't buy anything from a company called crapple either... Apple on the other hand... oh wait... I see what you did. :D

October 15, 2014 | 02:02 PM - Posted by Shambles (not verified)

Phone: Insanely expensive
Tablet: No storage, no expansion.

Well google, out of two products I could have possibly have been excited for I find myself feeling quite apathetic.

October 15, 2014 | 02:32 PM - Posted by Suraj Deuja (not verified)

This time around the nexus devices don't seem to be budget friendly at all.
Looking at iPhones, we can expect for iPad with $100 to go from 16GB to 64GB whereas $80 from 16GB to 32GB for nexus 9 seems quite steep. Also, for cellular apple charges $130 and nexus charging $120.This seems to me as change in paradigm for Google in a bad way.
I highly doubt this time around nexus devices will be such a great hit, also iPad mini with retina when compared to nexus 9 might actually look to be a budget friendly option.
64GB iPad mini with retina - $629 (estimated)
32Gb Nexus 9 - $599

October 15, 2014 | 03:49 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Thanks Google for fucking up what could have been a great device your exclusive updates don't justify such a ridicules price tage with such limited space.

Ill wait for the shield tablet with denver

October 15, 2014 | 04:39 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

How well does the PowerVR gx6650 benchmark, it appears to have the same resources as the K1, in the graphics department, but maybe Apple will go with the PowerVR Wizard, and bring Hardware Ray Tracing on the GPU into the forefront. The Ray Tracing on a GPU has me very interested in what GPU may be on the A8X. Apple definitely needs a more powerful GPU to remain competitive in the tablet market. Google is not helping itself with that price structure, and Apple could go with the Wizard and bring Ray Tracing, and better graphics into the tablet form factor, and a graphics Tablet that can do ray tracing for graphic arts, and gaming, on a tablet would be very popular, ray tracing takes a lot of CPU power on systems, and having that moved to the GPU and done more efficiently and quickly on dedicated GPU hardware, may start a trend in the GPU industry.

October 16, 2014 | 02:40 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

No MicroSD card slot. Disgusting and ridiculous.

They're still expecting us to use cloud storage instead. Wake up Google, cloud storage means I have to use bandwidth to get at my data and it's of no use when I'm off the grid. e.g. on a plane or something.

I think tablets also need to start thinking about having multiple micro USB slots too, to further increase connectivity options.

October 16, 2014 | 08:01 AM - Posted by Justin150 (not verified)

Totally agree. I assume that the micro-usb slot can be used for storage but that means (a) cannot have storage and changing at same time and (b) you end up having a micro-USB stick sticking out of the tablet

October 16, 2014 | 02:58 AM - Posted by JohnGR

(can we please just get a different name for this version of the chip)

How about "64bit K1"

October 16, 2014 | 09:26 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

LOL iOS/Android

Just bought a WinBook TW100 from Microcenter. Atom Z3735D, full Windows 8.1, 1280x800 IPS, $159. Why would anyone pay more to do less?

October 16, 2014 | 10:53 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Because Atom sucks.

October 16, 2014 | 12:53 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Atom sucks, and whatever Intel renames/rebrands Atom as will also suck, and whatever GPU that Intel designs will suck, and whatever GPU that Intel designs, that is stripped down and put in the ATOM/rebranded ATOM, will suck even more. Intel's designed top end mobile graphics sucks, as it is viewed in the rearview mirror of Nvidia's or AMD's much better graphics products, or Imagination's SOC GPU products. Intel's CPU cores do not suck on the desktop/laptop, but CISC x86 is not the product that will power most of the tablet/phone world, it will be RISC based, and not be dependent on any M$ legacy code. WINTEL you are the new dinosaur, and the market you paid no heed to, for so many years, has passed you buy. Hell even in the server room the licensed RISC based Power8s will be coming to take you on, by the very IBM designed RISC processor, now released to the global market in a licensed IP arrangement, similar to the ARM holdings Licensed IP business model, that formed the mobile SOC/CPU market. Licensed power8s, and ARM based server SKUs, running the workloads that they are best suited for.

Why would any tablet/phone OEM want to give Intel all of their profits, and become a de facto division of Intel, when there are licensable SOC designs, and third party chip fabs, and engineering services contracting out their services to design, for the OEM's exclusive use, custom designed SOC parts for the OEM's mobile devices, engineered to the OEM's exact specifications, and priced according to almost, with razor thin margins, exactly how much the part cost to fabricate, and be quickly engineered at a low cost, without any exorbitant middleman markup on the SOC parts. That's parts at reasonable cost, made from licensable reference designs, with licensable on die components that are engineered to be compatible, and quickly engineered into working SOC products for phones and tablets. There is licensable GPUs, CPUs, Radios, interconnect fabrics, from many different makers, and third party SOC engineering firms offering their services across the entire mobile market, to build SOCs from the licensed parts. What OEM needs Intel's anchor around their neck, and paws on their wallets, same goes for M$. The Smart OEMs, may be taking advantage of Intel's contra revenue to get back some of that money Intel drained over the years, but you can be damned sure that the OEMs have ARM based SKUs, and the ARM based SKUs will have better graphics, and use less power, even without a process node advantage. Does the mobile market need the x86 legacy code, and x86 CISC power draining, when there is already a software/hardware ecosystem that does not require legacy code, or the x86 to run it, or the M$ OS.

October 21, 2014 | 02:24 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

CISC instruction set these days is implemented through micro operations that are in line with RISC methodology, so you can keep that cisc vs risc argument in the eighties where it belongs

October 16, 2014 | 02:28 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Does it? It seems more than capable of running X86-64 software while doing everything else that ARM devices can do at the same or better power efficiency. You have a weird definition of "sucks".

October 16, 2014 | 11:37 AM - Posted by BBMan (not verified)

Somehow I think someone has an opportunity to sell a lot of product and make a lot of $ if they can put a more open ended, flexible(as in upgradeable) and non-MS/Google/Apple version of this on the market at a competitive price ....

hint hint hint .....

October 16, 2014 | 12:32 PM - Posted by Dmanatunga (not verified)

"...actually runs a custom instruction set that gets translated to ARMv8 in real-time."

I believe the processor dynamically translates to their custom instruction from ARMv8, not to ARMv8.

October 16, 2014 | 01:26 PM - Posted by Tim Verry

Correct. DCO translates ARMv8 instructions to the chips internal custom ISA. The converted operations can be further cached for future use such that the conversion step can be skipped in the future for frequently used applications.

January 8, 2015 | 10:23 AM - Posted by mark hendric (not verified)

we can expect for iPad with $100 to go from 16GB to 64GB whereas $80 from 16GB to 32GB for nexus 9 seems quite steep. Also, for cellular apple charges $130 and nexus charging $120.This seems to me as change in paradigm for Google in a bad way.
I highly doubt this time around google nexus devices will be such a great hit, also iPad mini with retina when compared to nexus 9 might actually look to be a budget friendly option.

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