Tegra K1 will be a tough sell for Nvidia

Tegra K1 will be a tough sell for Nvidia

Summary: Nvidia has been talking up Tegra solutions for years now, but their impact on the real-worked has been limited. If the Tegra K1 is going to be different, Nvidia needs to do more than just come up with the silicon.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Hardware
5

Nvidia has outlined a new 192 core "super chip" called the Tegra K1 which is designed to bridge the gap between mobile computing and supercomputing. But Nvidia has a lot way to go before it can convince hardware makers that it has what it takes.

Nvidia Tegra K1
(Source: James Martin, CNET)

Nvidia plans to offer the Tegra K1 in two flavors – a quad-core A15 part based on the ARM architecture good up to 2.3GHz, and a 64-bit dual-core part based on the Denver architecture good up to 2.5GHz. Both will feature 192 Cuda cores and are based on the Kepler architecture.

The CES announcement for the Tegra K1 by Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang made it sound good, but then everything announced at CES sounds good. There's a huge gulf between an announcement at CES and real-world success, and if Nvidia is to make the Tegra K1 work, it has a lot of work to do.

First, the parts actually need to be released, and fast. The current schedule has the 32-bit version of the Tegra K1 appearing in devices before mid-2014, and the 64-bit version by the end of the year. Given that Apple already has 64-bit processors inside hardware, and Qualcomm isn't that far behind, this is a long time, and it gives Nvidia's competitors plenty of time to gain more ground.

And this assumes that Nvidia doesn't fall behind schedule.

Another issue will be power efficiency. While the Tegra K1 might stack up well compared to the AMD silicon inside the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 (5W versus 100W), it's how the architecture stacks up against mobile silicon in the real world that matters.

Then there's the matter of how easily hardware makers can integrate the chip into designs. Qualcomm in particular has worked hard to produce reference designs that hardware makers can drop into their hardware, and has even come up with simple solutions to integrate cellular and LTE into devices.

Then there's price. The mobile market is especially cut throat, and even a few cents can sway a hardware maker.

Nvidia has been talking up Tegra solutions for years now, but their impact on the real-worked has been limited, as hardware makers have been turning to Qualcomm for silicon. If the Tegra K1 is going to be different, Nvidia needs to do more than just come up with the silicon. It needs to put in place the groundwork to make the Tegra K1 compelling to hardware makers.

Topic: Hardware

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

5 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Spell check might be working,

    but the grammar check is flawed, Adrian, hehe...
    "Nvidia has been talking up Tegra solutions for years now, but their impact on the real-worked has been limited, as hardware makers have been turning to Qualcomm for silicon."
    What is "real-worked"? Perhaps "real world"?
    wizard57m-cnet
  • Will it hash?

    That is all that matters ;) Just ask AMD\ATI. If it can hash they will fly off the shelves. Try find a AMD 7990 right now, or even a 290x. Crypto currency is in its infancy and isn't going away any time soon.
    tidwelljohn
  • Not much impact?!

    Perhaps you missed the part where the older Nexus 7, the most popular Android tablet and top of many lists (including your own) had a Tegra 3 inside. Or maybe the less popular but well received ASUS TF700 (also a Tegra 3). The T3 continues to get design wins in the low to mid-range tablet space (Nabi, Kobo Arc). The T4 hasn't done quite as well since Qualcomm's Snapdragon resurgence, but there are a couple of respectable tablets running it in the wild.

    Nvidia's impact may have been quieter than Qualcomm's, but it's hardly to be dismissed.
    vic@...
  • I dont see it going anywhere...

    No matter the TDP it has to come to market... Why would you want to run quad A15s when everything is already on Kraits? Krait is faster in some situations and the newest ones are faster in all situations.... Also 192 Cuda cores is nothing..... Qualcomm Adreno is based on AMD Radeon tech and Radeons are kicking the crap out of Nvidia chips atm... Nvidia is using more power and more cores than ever to try to keep up with AMD's efficiency with GCN, etc. Qualcomm has been dominating the market with great designs, competitive pricing and innovative products that just keep moving forward.
    Jimster480
    • -

      qualcomm are not the only company optimising their SoC. the A15 used in tegra K1 is the more recent revision from ARM. also AMD are not kicking nvidia. you said that nvidia are less efficient then GCN? the fact is it is AMD that are putting more core and more power to keep up with nvidia (290X). the talk about nvidia is not efficient is long over since nvidia come up with kepler.
      renz4