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Nvidia debuts its next generation mobile processor, the Tegra K1

Mark Hachman | Jan. 7, 2014
Many expected Nvidia to launch a next-generation Tegra 5 platform at the Consumer Electronics Show. Instead, Nvidia arguably went quite a bit farther.

Nvidia developed G-Sync, a technology that updates monitor's display when the GPU is ready, without lag or tearing. It will require special G-Sync equipped monitors and Nvidia graphics cards, and will be available in the second quarter from "just about every monitor maker that targets gamers," Huang sad. 

"The Android operating system is undoubtedly the single most disruptive force in computing in the last hundred years," Huang said. "When we think about building Tegra, our mobile processor, we think about what we can do to take Tegra into markets we can serve." 

"There are some new industries that Tegra will advance to, including 4K televisions, a market that Huang said that was a question of "if, not when." It's only a question of time before Android disrupts the game console industry, Huang added—although he had to do so, with all three consoles dominated by AMD hardware.

Meet the Tegra K1

Most were expecting Nvidia to announce the Tesla 5, a next-generation core to the Nvidia Tegra 4 mobile chip. Instead, Huang announced the Tegra K1, the world's first 192-core processor, with 192 Kepler cores inside it.

"It's also most inappropriate to call it the Tegra K5, because it's simply not linear," Huang said, referring to the rate of improvement within the chip.

"We've brought Tesla to the same levels as supercomputing," Huang said. "We've brought the heart of GeForce and the soul of Tesla to mobile computing." 

The K1 so impressed one developer, Epic Games, that it said it would bring its next-generation Unreal engine to the K1 platform. "The Unreal Engine is essentially the OS of gaming," Huang said.

Huang positioned the Tegra K1 as significantly more powerful than either than Xbox 360 or the PlayStation 3. Though at seven years old, with their successors already on the market, that is not a terribly meaningful comparison.

Huang promised that next-generation engines like the Unreal engine would feature photorealism—a promise that game developers and GPU vendors have repeated for years now. But every chip takes a step further toward that goal, and Nvidia showed off a demo from the USC Institute for Creative Technologies running on the Nvidia K1 that showed off an amazingly lifelike animated human head. Other demos showed off high-dynamic range lighting and features like volumetric fog.

Huang also showed off Uneal Engine 4 running on the K1 archiecture, which looked, naturally, like the most realistic to date. One of the presenters demonstrating the technology noted that Epic has a technology that automatically adjusts for what it called adaptive pupil technology, which attempts to paint the scene in the way which a  human eye would see them. Even tiny paticles have their own physics effects, Huang said.


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