Meet Kal-El, Nvidia's Quad-Core Mobile Processor

Tuesday during Mobile World Congress 2011, Nvidia revealed Project Kal-El, the company's next-generation Tegra system-on-a-chip (SoC) featuring a four-core processor and an additional 12-core GeForce GPU.

"Just as the world has rallied around the concept of dual core, the world is about to see that quad core raises the bar, delivers a lot more performance, and fits into all mobile platforms," Nvidia's senior vice president of the mobile business unit Phil Carmack said at the event.

As demonstrated at the show, the chip is capable of running 1440p video content on a 2560 x 1600 panel. It also has enough horsepower to generate a Retina display-like 300 DPI image on a 10-inch tablet. That said, Kal-El's overall power consumption won't be greater than Tegra 2-- meaning it won't require the sun's yellow rays to power mobile devices.

To demonstrate Kal-El's super strength, Nvidia used Coremark 1.0 as a benchmark to compare the new chip against Tegra 2 and a 2 GHz dual-core Core 2 Duo T7200 processor. Kal-El scored significantly higher than the current Tegra 2 chip, achieving 11,352 and 5,840 respectively. The upcoming chip even surpassed the Core 2 Duo T7200 processor which ranked second on the list at 10,136.

Nvidia also revealed its Tegra roadmap for the next three years during the presentation, backing up the company's previous vow to release a new Tegra chip every year. The roadmap also revealed that someone at the GPU giant is really into comic books.

According to the roadmap, Nvidia is expected to launch Wayne in 2012. This will be followed by Logan in 2013 and Stark in 2014. Wayne will perform 10 times faster than the current Tegra 2 chip whereas Stark is slated to perform even greater at 100 times that of the Tegra 2 in three years.

Additionally, if you didn't get the super hero reference, the four Tegra processors are named after Superman (Kal-El), Batman (Bruce Wayne), Wolverine (James Howlett aka Logan) and Iron Man (Tony Stark).

"You might well ask, What on earth can be done with nearly 75x improvement in performance over Tegra 2 that Stark will provide in 2014?" said Nvidia's Michael Rayfield in a company blog. "Our customers and partners have already indicated that they’re confident they can use everything we give them."

Samples of Nvidia's Kal-El Tegra chip are already out in the field. The final Kal-El processor should start appearing in tablets in August followed by smartphones this holiday season.

Kal-El Web-Browsing Benchmark

Coremark Performance on Kal-El

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  • jprahman
    Wasn't there a story here on Toms's about a year back about a report from an industry analyst group predicting that quad-core processors would be seen in smart phones by 2013 and dual core would arrive later this year? Here we are in 2011 and we already have dual core smart phone processors being released and quad cores late this year and early next year. Just think about how these processors stack up against the high power CPUs we were putting in our gaming rigs just 5 years ago. It's pretty amazing the rate at which technology advances.
    2
  • breathesrain
    Maybe this is a stupid question, but whatever happened to true quadcore laptop processors? As far as I know there are no official 4-core mobile processors for laptops, yet Nvidia has already done a lot of work on this quad-core phone processor.
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  • tsnorquist
    I wonder why they are jumping back and forth from DC to Marvel in the naming scheme?
    -1