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Nvidia Unveils Tegra X1
Old 01-05-2015
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Default Nvidia Unveils Tegra X1

Nvidia Unveils Tegra X1 "Superchip" at CES 2015

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang holds out the Tegra X1, which he claims is the world's first mobile "superchip."

by Nick Statt - January 4, 2015 8:32 PM PST

Onstage at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang shows off the company's latest computation leap in power.

LAS VEGAS -- Nvidia wants to bring the heart of its PC graphics card business to mobile -- and it thinks it has a chip that can pump out the quality of an Xbox One on your smartphone.

Onstage Sunday evening at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang announced a new addition to its Tegra chip family, the Tegra X1. The processor utilizes its most advanced PC architecture for graphics processing units, called Maxwell, that packs in a 256-core GPU on top of a 8-core central processing unit that, together, pumps out one whole teraflop of computational power.

What do all those numbers mean? According to Huang, the result is a tiny workhorse for smartphones that is both powerful and energy efficient enough to bring console and PC-grade graphics to handheld devices. The X1 follows Nvidia's process of transitioning PC-grade tech to mobile, which it did last year by bringing Kepler, the generation before Maxwell, to mobile devices like the Nvidia Shield gaming handheld with the Tegra K1 chip.

"This little tiny thing here is a mobile super chip," Huang said, adding that the X1 was twice as powerful as last year's K1. "We're able to run any application that relies on the architecture of Maxwell," he added. That includes any game powered by top-end PCs and home console.

Nvidia's Tegra X1 can achieve a teraflop of computation power, doubling last year's K1 chip.

To showcase this, Nvidia simulated a smartphone demo that rendered in real time the short video "Elemental" built using Unreal Engine 4. Epic, the maker of Unreal, is a leading supplier of game-building tools for the industry's most intensive and photo realistic titles -- the games Nvidia thinks will soon be commonplace on smartphones and tablets if they incorporate its Tegra chip.

Nvidia now dominates the PC graphics card business with its line of GeForce GPUs, having driven competitor AMD out of desktop computers and toward supplying the game consoles of Microsoft and Sony with components. The grip on PCs has proved lucrative; gamers shell out far more frequently for PC parts than console owners, who buy a system and keep it for years.

Now, Nvidia wants to move to mobile and is hoping hardcore gamers can take them there. Qualcomm is the lead supplier of mobile chips, and Nvidia has an uphill battle to try to supplant the Snapdragon line that runs most of the world's Android devices.

Yet that race is a ways down the line, the company says. At the moment, the Tegra X1 and its one teraflop of computational power is too much for current mobile devices. So Nvidia is getting the chip out into the wild -- by having it power next-generation automotive hardware and software.

The company closed out its press conference with a substantial amount of time spent talking up its new Drive PX and Drive CX products. Drive PX will provide autopilot and self-driving software by utilizing new Tegra X1's together to provide reliable computer vision for automobiles, helping with AI-assisted parking and self-driving functions of next-generation cars. Drive CX is Nvidia's new hardware and software platform for bringing its graphics and simulation chops to cars' center consoles for navigation, driver monitoring and other screen functions.



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