Nvidia says Kal-El chip will have five cores

September 22, 2011 by Nancy Owano report

(PhysOrg.com) -- Nvidia says its upcoming Kal-El chip (Tegra 3) will have five cores, not four. The news appeared this week when the Santa Clara company announced a white paper describing the architecture of this system-on-a-chip for mobile computing.

There had already been considerable interest in what was assumed would turn out to be a quad-core processor,

However, the news of a fifth this week generated a flood of online headlines in the tech and business media seeing Nvidia's five-core approach as a right step in addressing the performance/ demands of .

The processor, code-named Kal-El, treats the newly announced fifth core as a "companion" core to the other four. The fifth operates at low power when the mobile device is doing something that does not require a lot of power, like reading or music and . At those times, Kal-El completely powers down the four performance-tuned cores and instead uses this companion core.

For higher performance tasks, Kal-El disables the companion core. and browsing Flash-based web pages might take several of the four cores, while four cores are operating for power-intensive tasks like gaming and media processing.

Multiple cores are seen as the right construct for ; outside , the company’s nimble approach is being referred to as chip gymnastics; inside Nvidia, the technical term used is Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing (SMP) technology. With today's marketplace demands for high-performance smartphones and tablets, Nvidia believes its five-core approach in Kal-El will achieve energy efficiency, delivering powerful performance while improving battery life.

The company has in the past been best known for its graphics chips for PCs. The focus appears to have shifted. Using chip designs from U.K.-based ARM Holdings, the company has expanded into chips for smartphones and tablets.

All five CPU cores are ARM Cortex A9 CPU based.

Earlier this month, Nvidia president and chief executive officer Jen-Hsun Huang said that a vast majority of the company's revenue will be generated by its mobile processor business and not its longstanding graphics card division. No specific dates have been announced, but expectations outside Nvidia are for the first Kal-El (Tegra 3)-based products to appear later this year. Tablets carrying Kal-El are anticipated first, following by smartphones in 2012.

Explore further: NASA awards Next Generation Land Mobile Radio contract

More information: Nvidia blog: blogs.nvidia.com/2011/09/quad-core-kal-el%E2%80%99s-stealth-fifth-core-lets-it-save-on-energy/

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10 comments

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hard2grep
5 / 5 (2) Sep 22, 2011
great... DRM just became a bigger hardware problem. I see my future self with pliers in hand looking for golden pins. OK, maybe just a pencil, clear coat paint and a small program.hey, AMD delivered on bringing us back to the good old days of over-clocking...
Vendicar_Decarian
1.4 / 5 (9) Sep 22, 2011
You can't have a free society unless information and thoughts can be owned.
jamesrm
5 / 5 (1) Sep 22, 2011
A lot of innovation happens when you take intel out of the equation?
El_Nose
not rated yet Sep 22, 2011
@hard2grep --- hunh???

SoC doesn't really seems to be intel's business the Atom processor is formidable and close to SoC but they are just getting into this arena -- i think it will become a bigger and bigger player in years to come.
Silverhill
5 / 5 (3) Sep 22, 2011
I wonder if this means that DC Comics never trademarked the "Kal-El" name...
abhishekbt
not rated yet Sep 23, 2011
outside Nvidia, the companys nimble approach is being referred to as chip gymnastics; inside Nvidia, the technical term used is Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing (SMP) technology.


I was in fits reading this!!!
Ricochet
1 / 5 (1) Sep 23, 2011
Why stop @ 5? They have room for a 6th one! GO FOR 6!
CHollman82
1 / 5 (1) Oct 07, 2011
Why stop @ 5? They have room for a 6th one! GO FOR 6!


I'd give you a 1 if I was certain that you were serious in your determination of how much room they have to fit a sixth core...
Ricochet
1 / 5 (1) Oct 07, 2011
I'd give you a 1 if I was certain that you were serious in your determination of how much room they have to fit a sixth core...

I gave you a 1 because you can't recognize humor when you see it.
Callippo
not rated yet Oct 07, 2011
You can't have a free society unless information and thoughts can be owned.
You cannot share information freely, until its collection or acquisition would cost money. TANSTAAFL...

http://en.wikiped...ee_lunch

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