Consumer Electronics Show 2014 will officially begin tomorrow, but a lot of pre-CES announcements have already begun. Nvidia in its pre-CES press conference announced a biggie – its next generation mobile Tegra chip – the Tegra K1.

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang announced the Tegra K1, the next-gen Tegra chipset for mobile devices (Image Courtesy: Nvidia)

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang announced the Tegra K1, the next-gen Tegra chipset for mobile devices

The Tegra K1 is based on the Kepler GPU architecture, the same one which is seen in NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX cards. The Tegra K1 will sport a single SMX unit which corresponds to 192 CUDA cores. All the cores are fully programmable and can operate parallely.

The road map of the Tegra family (Image Courtesy: Nvidia)

The road map of the Tegra family

While announcing the Tegra K1, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang indicated that just doubling the processor cores seems pointless. “I guess we could do eight cores. But that seems pretty pedestrian, that seems pretty obvious. It’s called K1 because it’s based on Kepler architecture, our most successful GPU architecture. This architecture, because it’s so energy effieinct and programmable, enables us to extend GPU to the cloud with GRID and to the cloud with Tesla. One architecture spans computing from a few watts to megawatts. We’re really, really excited that with Tegra we’ve bridged the gap. We’ve brought the heart of GeForce and soul of Tesla to mobile computing. It’s almost inappropriate to call it (the Tegra K1) Tegra 5. It’s simply not linear,” he said.

Tegra K1 comes in two variants - a dual-core and a quad-core one (Image Courtesy: The Verge)

Tegra K1 comes in two variants – a dual-core and a quad-core one (Image Courtesy: The Verge)

The Tegra K1 comes in two versions: a quad-core A15 and another version based on the dual-core NVIDIA Denver CPU which was announced a few days back. It is a fully custom CPU based on the ARM V8 64-bit instruction set. According to NVIDIA, the K1 is designed to be very high performance on both single and multi-threaded tasks. The Denver dual-core K1 with be clocked at 2.5GHz whereas the quad-core denver variant with the A15 with be clocked at 2.34GHz.

With the Tegra K1, NVIDIA seems to be combining its desktop graphics architecture with its mobile processor family. Huang said that the main reasoning behind this move was to make the life of game developers easy. Multiplicity of  platforms is a constant bother for game devs, so with NVIDIA offering a consistent development platform – same architecture for mobile and desktop platform – Huang opines that NVIDIA has offered a unique solution.

Unreal Engine 4 will be brought to Tegra K1. Tim Sweeney of Epic Games, the company behind Unreal Engine said that we could now take any game running on the desktop or high end consoles and run it on Tegra K1-sporting devices.

Tegra K1 being compared to PS3 and the Xbox 360

Tegra K1 being compared to PS3 and the Xbox 360

Tegra K1 was compared with the PS3 and the Xbox 360 showing that it has more horsepower than both and this is achieved at a fraction of the power consumption. Huang claimed it gives a performance that is thrice that of the Apple’s 64-bit A7 processor.

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