NVIDIA Rips the Lid Off Tegra K1, Demos 64-bit Mobile Processor Running Android

by Brian Caulfield

Okay. We admit it. We couldn’t wait for the show to start.

In the first big news ahead of this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang introduced Tegra K1. It will come in two stripes – 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

The fifth-generation of NVIDIA’s Tegra line of mobile processors, it’s the first mobile SoC to support next-gen graphics capabilities. It does so by unleashing 192 of the Kepler graphics cores in our high-end GeForce graphics cards, and our Tesla supercomputer accelerators.

Heart of GeForce, Soul of Tesla

“It’s simply inappropriate to call it Tegra 5, it’s simply not linear,” Jen-Hsun told a crowd of journalists, industry analysts, and enthusiasts crammed into a ballroom at The Strip’s Cosmopolitan Hotel. “We’ve brought the heart of GeForce and the soul of Tesla to mobile computing.”

We’ve been dropping hints about it for a while now. Jen-Hsun confessed that NVIDIA was behind the mysterious crop circle that appeared earlier this month in a barley field near Salinas, California. Mistaken by more than a few for a message from an alien civilization, the circle was meant to be a playful hint at the K1’s 192 Kepler cores.

“When I learned about it, I learned it on CNN,” Jen-Hsun said. “People thought aliens had done it.”

Running Unreal Engine 4 on Mobile

One highlight from the event: Jen-Hsun showed Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4 running on a Tegra K1 mobile processor. It’s a breakthrough that promises to bring the kinds of applications originally built for designers, gamers and supercomputers to a broad range of devices, erasing the lines between desktop and mobile devices.

Jen-Hsun also took the audience by surprise in showing off the 64-bit version of Tegra K1 running Android – the world’s first demo of a 64-bit mobile chip running Android.

The 32-bit version, powered by a quad-core 4-Plus-1 ARM Cortex A15 CPU, will hit the streets in devices during the first half of this year. The 64-bit version, powered by a customized dual-core CPU based on the ARMv8 architecture, will arrive in devices during the second half of the year.

A Supercomputer You Can Park In Your Garage

To drive that point home, Jen-Hsun unveiled a new platform that will put the power of Tegra K1 on the road.

The Tegra K1 Visual Computing Module will let automotive designers easily slip the kind of power once only found in supercomputers into cars and trucks.

“What you see and experience when you’re driving matters so much,” he said. “We believe parallel computing will revolutionize how a car is built, how it looks, how it drives.”

Jen-Hsun showed how designers can use the K1 VCM to craft lifelike dashboard controls out of little more than pixels.

Dubbed “Project Mercury,” the demonstration offers just a taste of the capabilities – ranging from next-gen infotainment systems to wild new kinds of heads-up displays – that can be unleashed by putting visual computing into cars.

Keeping Gamers In Sync

Jen-Hsun also announced the availability of NVIDIA’s new G-SYNC technology in monitors from Acer, AOC, ASUS, BEnQ, Philps, and ViewSonic.

Unveiled earlier this year, G-SYNC eliminates the artifacts such as stutters and tearing that can jolt you out of the zone when playing PC games by synchronizing the monitor refresh rate so that it matches the speed at which the GPU renders images.

A demo of “StarCraft II,” – running with and without G-SYNC – which has to be seen in person to be appreciated, was startling.

Want to get an in-person look? Stop by our booth at CES Tuesday through Friday.