Nvidia outlines Tegra K1, 192-core chip to put supercomputing everywhere

Nvidia's master plan is to take its supercomputing knowhow and meld it with mobile platforms as they converge in various markets.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang on Sunday outlined the Tegra K1, a 192 core "super chip" that aims to bridge the gap between mobile computing and supercomputing. The plan for Nvidia is to create an architecture that will play along with Android to disrupt industries ranging from gaming to automobiles and cloud computing.

Speaking at CES 2014 in Las Vegas, Huang said the Tegra K1 will meld supercomputing momentum---Nvidia has gained a lot of traction in supercomputing---and cloud game development on Android. 

Also see CNET's live blog of Nvidia press conference from CES

The gist of the Tegra K1 goes like this:

  • 192 Cuda cores that are parallel and programmable. 
  • It's based on Nvidia's Kepler architecture. 
  • A single architecture designed for computing on phones to supercomputers. 
  • Epic Games will bring its Unreal Engine 4 to Tegra K1 for game development. 
  • Platforms such as new game consoles such as the Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 are essentially PCs.
  • The Tegra K1 will also be in two versions. One is quad core A15 based on ARM. Another version will be available on Nvidia's Denver CPUs. Tegra K1 with Denver has been out a few days and Huang showed a demo. "When you've worked on a chip for 5 years and it has come back and it's not a brick you're so happy," said Huang. 
  • No word on availability, but Huang said that the outline of K1 wasn't a "PowerPoint launch."
  • Nvidia talked 64-bit computing years ago, but now has to play catch-up to Apple's A7 and Qualcomm. 
Credit for all photos: James Martin, CNET.


While gaming got a lot of play from Nvidia, the company also has wider ambitions with the Tegra K1. Tegra K1 is going to be Nvidia's entry into a bevy of new markets. Huang hinted that Nvidia plans to tag along with Android in any market the OS enters. Huang also outlined how Nvidia will be making a big push into automakers beyond just the design process. 

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"It's simply a matter of time before Android starts to disrupt new markets," said Huang, who noted that Android will play a key role in 4K televisions, video game consoles and cars. "We happen to believe the car will be your most important mobile computer," said Huang.

If you add up Tegra K1 with other efforts, Nvidia sees itself as the enabler to bring photo realism and graphics heft to a bevy of industries. 

However, Huang outlined Nvidia's cloud efforts and how it is tackling issues like latency and synchronization in gaming. The technologies could also be used to synchronize streaming of applications in the enterprise.


Huang noted you can get PC games on your television via its game console Shield and a technology called GameStream, which streams games wirelessly. However, there have been latency issues that Nvidia has been looking to fix. Tests in the field by CNET have noted that Shield game streams can lag.

Nvidia did a demo showing a game stream connected to a server in France. "The GRID virtualized GPU server gamestreaming across the ocean in 30 milliseconds back the Shield device," said Huang.

Huang also outlined G-Sync, a technology that is designed to limit latency and lag in visual computing. G-Sync can deliver game frame rates as fast or as slow as needed because it synchronizes with the source of the application. G-Sync will be available in the second quarter from Nvidia.

G-Sync accomplishes its feat by adding more buffers for latency, updating a frame as soon as the GPU is ready and delivering frames at a variable rate.

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