Nvidia unveils quad-core Tegra 3 mobile processor -- will be in devices by August

Summary:The mobile chip wars are starting to sound a lot like the desktop chip wars -- it's all about who has the most gigahertz and the highest number of cores. Nvidia is hoping to trump everyone with its Tegra 3 processor, which it debuted at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) and promised to show up in mobile devices by August.

The mobile chip wars are starting to sound a lot like the desktop chip wars -- it's all about who has the most gigahertz and the highest number of cores. Nvidia is hoping to trump everyone with its Tegra 3 processor, which it debuted at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) and promised to show up in mobile devices by August.

Tegra 3, geekily code-named Kal-El, is a quad-core chip that will hit the market before Qualcomm's forthcoming quad-core Snapdragon. If its MWC demo is anything like its real-world performance, it's going to make for some exciting tablets for the holiday shopping season. On the Coremark 1.0 benchmark, Kal-El scored more than twice as high as the dual-core Tegra 2, and even topped the Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 laptop CPU. Granted that's an older processor, but impressive nonetheless. Tegra was also shown browsing the Web nearly instantly with each of its four cores (see video below).

According to Engadget, Nvidia also showed Kal-El running a 2,560x1,440 video stream simultaneously on a tablet and a 30-inch monitor, and demoed it playing Great Battles Medieval at 720p. That performance comes courtesy of a new 12-core GPU that's part of the Tegra 3 system-on-a-chip.

Nvidia says the new processor can provide up to 12 hours of HD video playback before needing recharging. That better be accurate, because it seems like Kal-El is begging for a lot of video streaming and game playing. But all that power won't seem so great if it can't come close to the iPad in battery life.

Topics: Processors, Hardware, Mobility

About

Sean Portnoy started his tech writing career at ZDNet nearly a decade ago. He then spent several years as an editor at Computer Shopper magazine, most recently serving as online executive editor. He received a B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. from the University of Southern California.

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