NVIDIA’s latest mobile chip can really only be called a behemoth. In a world that is just starting to see dual-core tablets and smartphones get announced, but most still a couple of months away from actually being in stores, NVIDIA decided to crash every other chip maker’s party and unveil Project Kal-El.
Boldly branded, Kal-El is NVIDIA’s mobile chipset for 2011, just like Tegra 2 was its offering for 2010 (and was first shown a year ago at Mobile World Congress 2010). And, thankfully, it looks like Kal-El will make it onto actual shipping devices a lot sooner than its predecessor. While we’re still waiting for most Tegra 2 devices to become generally available, the first Kal-El powered tablets will ship in August. Of 2011, no less. That’s what NVIDIA announced in their press release, and that’s what one of its reps confirmed to me. Smartphones powered by Kal-El will hit the shops just in time for the holiday season, before this year ends.
If there will be no delays, that means that most of today’s Android-powered dual-core tablets, such as the recently-unveiled Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 will be all but rendered obsolete in just half a year.
NVIDIA’s booth at Mobile World Congress has two things related to Kal-El on display, and I was there to photograph them and get a quick video. First off, there’s this reference tablet design, having an actual live Kal-El chip inside:
Needless to say, this will never be sold, it’s just a reference design. And it was running Great Battles, a game by War Drum Studios. Kal-El allowed the tablet to render 650 individual soldiers on the same screen.
Next up, NVIDIA was running a pre-recorded video of opening 50 web pages in rapid succession. While watching the video, you could see how much load each CPU core gets. But perhaps even more interesting than the almost invisible effect that opening that many web pages has on the CPU is the fact that all four processing cores are used by Kal-El even to render Web pages.
Since the tablet was running NVIDIA software specifically designed for these demos, it’s still unclear if, say, when loading Android on a tablet that is powered by Kal-El all four cores will be used as well. In other words, it remains to be seen whether the simultaneous use of all cores was using a middle software layer that NVIDIA will ship with the chip and manufacturers will be able to use with Android, or whether Android itself will need to be optimized to use the whole processing power of Kal-El.
But, with tablets already shipping in August, it won’t take long before we find out.
Here’s a quick demo video of what NVIDIA is showing at Mobile World Congress 2011:
And the full gallery of live pics:
If you liked the post, you might find these interesting too:
- Quad-core 2.3 GHz Nvidia Tegra 4i with built-in LTE unveiled alongside Phoenix smartphone reference design
- Amazon is working on two Android tablets, dual-core “Coyote” and quad-core “Hollywood”
- Quad-Core Chips Coming to Mobile Phones This Year, Courtesy of NVIDIA
- Nvidia Tegra 4 gets unveiled with 4 Cortex-A15 CPU cores, 72 GPU cores, LTE support
- Nvidia Tegra 2 3D and quad-core Tegra 3 chips rumored for later this year