NVIDIA reveals world’s first quad-core mobile processor

9 Nov 2011

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime

NVIDIA has revealed the Tegra 3 processor, the world’s first quad core chip for mobile devices. It will power the world’s first quad-core tablet, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime.

Known previously by the code name “Project Kal-El,” the NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor provides up to three times the graphics performance of Tegra 2, and up to 61pc lower power consumption.

This translates into 12 hours of battery life for HD video playback.

The Tegra 3 processor implements a new, patent-pending technology known as Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing (vSMP). vSMP includes a fifth CPU “companion,” specifically designed for work requiring little power.

The four main cores are specifically designed for work requiring high performance, and generally consume less power than dual-core processors.

The fifth core

During tasks that require less power consumption – like listening to music, playing back video or updating background data – the Tegra 3 processor completely shuts down its four performance-tuned cores and, instead, uses its companion core.

For high-performance tasks – like web browsing, multitasking and gaming – the Tegra 3 processor disables the companion.

“NVIDIA’s fifth core is ingenious,” said Nathan Brookwood, research fellow at Insight 64.

“Tegra 3’s vSMP technology extends the battery life of next-generation mobile devices by using less power when they’re handling undemanding tasks and then ratcheting up performance when it’s really needed.”

The Tegra 3 quad-core CPUs are complemented by a new 12-core NVIDIA GeForce GPU, which delivers more realism with dynamic lighting, physical effects and high-resolution environments, plus support for 3D stereo, giving developers the means to bring the next generation of mobile games to life.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years