Nvidia Announces 64-Bit Tegra K1 Chip With 192 GPU Cores

Nvidia Announces 64-Bit Tegra K1 Chip With 192 GPU Cores

LAS VEGAS–Nvidia beat Qualcomm to 64 bits – barely.

With all the other mobile manufacturers scrambling to catch up to Apple’s A7 chip as a 64-bit, ARM-based platform, there was a challenge laid down here at CES 2014: would Nvidia, Samsung, or Qualcomm show off the first 64-bit demo? Well, Nvidia had its press conference first, so we got the 2.5GHz Nvidia Tegra K1, a wicked mobile chip with 192 Kepler graphics cores and a dual-core ”Project Denver” processor.

Qualcomm announced its 64-bit Snapdragon 410 earlier, but Nvidia showed the first demo.

K1 with Denver is important not just because it’s 64 bit. Nvidia’s previous chips have used off-the-shelf ARM cores, with custom graphics hardware. But Denver, which Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said the company has been working on for five years, is a completely custom core, like Apple’s A7 and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon.

CES 2014 BugThe Tegra K1 advantage, for now, seems to be in gaming. Huang spent most of his keynote going over gaming demos, showing how the Tegra K1 platform will be the first mobile chipset to support the Unreal Engine 4 game engine and DX11 graphics. Tegra K1 can render human faces, lighting, and explosions far better than even a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, he said, and it has triple the graphics benchmark performance of Apple’s A7 chip.

”What you’re going to have is the visual richness of next-generation capability and the horsepower of a game console right in your palms,” Huang said. ”We happen to believe that Android is going to be the most important platform for game consoles in the future.”

Tegra K1 will also come in a quad-core ARM-A15 version, which may come out sooner than the Denver version. The company did not announce any phone or tablet wins for the chip. Nvidia’s previous chip, the Tegra 4, appears in tablets such as the EVGA Tegra Note 7, Toshiba Excite Write, and HP Slatebook X2, but not in any U.S. mobile phones.

The K1 also comes in an automotive version, the Tegra K1 VCM. There, K1’s 192 GPU cores will perform advanced driver assistance functions via computer vision, eventually making cars semi-autonomous.

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”This is going to bring magic to the car industry. Your car is going to do things that most people won’t be able to understand,” Huang said. The K1’s programmable driver assistance system will be extensible in software, enabling a car to ’learn’ over time.