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Nvidia Tegra K1

NVIDIA K1

The NVIDIA Tegra K1 (Tegra 5) is an ARM-based SoC (System on a Chip) made largely for high-end Android tablets and smartphones. Its main features include an integrated five ARM Cortex A15 cores (4+1), a Kepler-based graphics card with 192 CUDA cores, a dual-channel 64-bit memory controller (up to 4 GB), video codecs for encoding and decoding up to 4k content and dual ISP. It is built at TSMC under a 28nm HPM process for improved peak performance (in contrast to the 28nm HPL process of Tegra 4 which is optimized for low leakage).

Later in 2014, Nvidia will introduce a second version of Tegra K1 with two "Denver" cores at up to 2.5 GHz. Similar to Apples "Cyclone", Denver is alredy 64-bit capable (ARMv8) and has been developed by Nvidia itself. Especially the per-core performance should be significantly above the Cortex-A15 model.

SeriesNVIDIA Tegra
CodenameLogan (Cortex-A15 "r3" + Kepler-GPU)
Clock Rate2300 MHz
Level 1 Cache256 KB
Level 2 Cache2048 KB
Number of Cores / Threads4 / 4
Manufacturing Technology28 nm
Features2x 32 Bit Dual-Channel Memory Controller (DDR3L, LPDDR2/3, max. 2.133 MHz), Kepler-GPU, Dual ISP, 4K Encoder + Decoder, USB 3.0
GPUNVIDIA Tegra K1 Kepler GPU ( - 950 MHz)
64 Bitno 64 Bit support
Announcement Date01/06/2014
Product Link (external)NVIDIA Tegra K1

Processor

As with the Tegra 4, NVIDIA uses four ARM Cortex A15 cores as the main processing power for the Tegra K1. In addition to this, a further lower-clocked "companion core" is used to save power. Compared to the Tegra 4, Tegra K1 uses a newer revision of the A15 architecture (r3) and clocks the main cores up to 2.3 GHz - much higher than the 1.8 GHz or 1.9 GHz Tegra 4. Furthermore, NVIDIA claims up to 40% more performance at the same power compared to the previous generation. The companion core can run up to 1 GHz independently from the 4 main cores, but is typically clocked at 500 MHz for lower consumption. It is used only for power-saving purposes and not for additional performance.

Graphics

The integrated graphics card has received the most significant upgrade in the Tegra K1 chipset. Nvidia has finally made the move to a unified shader architecture. It integrates a full-featured Kepler-based graphics card that includes a single SMX with 192 CUDA cores, 8 TMUs and 4 ROPs. Therefore, Tegra K1 offers about half the power of a GK208 chip (384 shaders, 32 TMUs, 8 ROPs) such as a GeForce GT 730M or 740M. This is a big step forward compared to the GeForce ULP in the Tegra 4 SoC, which was based on an old architecture with dedicated pixel- and vertex shaders that is similar to the GeForce 6 series of 2004 and supported only OpenGL ES 2.0. The new graphics card supports OpenGL 4.4 and DirectX 11 in hardware, or well above the current OpenGL ES 3.0 standard that is most common amongst the majority of mobile operating systems. Furthermore, the Kepler GPU can be used for general calculations using CUDA and OpenCL 1.1 (1.2 in theory). As an example, Nvidia has shown how to perform real time video effects using the GPU and CUDA (Chimera 2).

Features

To drive two independent cameras, Tegra K1 integrates a dual ISP with 600 Mp each. Both ISP support cameras with up to 100 Mp and 14-bit input.

The integrated video engine of Tegra K1 is advertised as 2K and 4K-capable for hardware video encoding/decoding. According to Nvidia, the SoC most likely requires processing assistance from additional CPU cores for 4K content. 4K can be decoded at 30 fps and encoded at 24 fps. 1080p videos on the other hand can be decoded with up to 120 fps and encoded with 60 fps.

Performance

Nvidia claims to outperform all current high-end competitors like the Apple A7, Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 and Samsung Exynos in processor and graphics card performance.

Processor Performance

The four Cortex-A15 r3 CPU cores can be clocked up to 2.3 GHz (no higher frequency available for single thread load) and are advertised as fast and efficient. Compared to the Tegra 4 A15 cores, performance has increased by up to 1.4x at the same power level. In the SPECInt2K benchmark, Nvidia claims more than 1400 points compared to the nearly 1200 points of Tegra 4 while needing less power (see slide). To compare performance against the competition, Nvidia chose the largely single-threaded Javascript benchmark Octane where the Tegra K1 was able to beat a Krait 400 (or Qualcomm Snapdragon 800) at every power level. Nvidia also claims a performance-to-power ratio similar to that of the Apple A7 at 1300 MHz and a 2 Watt power envelope.

In our benchmarks, Tegra K1 offers a performance similar to the Apple A8 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 805. While the A8 wins most single-threaded benchmarks (e.g. browsing tests), the quad-core Tegra and Snapdragon SoCs take the lead in multi-threaded tests. However, both Apple A8 and Snapdragon 805 can also be found in smartphones, whereas the more power-hungry Tegra K1 is mainly intended for tablets.

CPU Benchmarks

Vellamo 3.0: Metal
0% 100%
min: 1754     avg: 1754 (100%)     max: 1754 Points
Vellamo 3.0: Multicore Beta
0% 100%
min: 2460     avg: 2460 (100%)     max: 2460 Points
Vellamo 3.0: Browser
0% 100%
min: 2869     avg: 3864.5 (79.52%)     max: 4860 Points
Octane V2: Total Score
0% 100%
min: 6777     avg: 6810 (28.04%)     max: 6843 Points
Mozilla Kraken 1.1: Total Score
0% 100%
min: 4286     avg: 4491.3 (94.51%)     max: 4696.6 ms*
Geekbench 3: 32 Bit Multi-Core Score
0% 100%
min: 3062     avg: 3278.5 (25.54%)     max: 3495 Points
Geekbench 3: 32 Bit Single-Core Score
0% 100%
min: 1054     avg: 1090.5 (31.1%)     max: 1127 Points
AndEBench: Java
0% 100%
min: 1026     avg: 1026 (100%)     max: 1026 Iter./s
AndEBench: Native
0% 100%
min: 17300     avg: 17300 (80.59%)     max: 17300 Iter./s
3DMark (2013): Ice Storm Unlimited Physics 1280x720 offscreen
0% 100%
min: 16299     avg: 18210 (31.49%)     max: 21086 Points
PassMark PerformanceTest Mobile V1: CPU Tests
0% 100%
min: 22985     avg: 22985 (51.1%)     max: 22985 Points
AnTuTu Benchmark v4: Total Score
0% 100%
min: 33917     avg: 38457 (89.44%)     max: 42997 points
Geekbench 2 - 32 Bit: Stream
0% 100%
min: 1860     avg: 1860 (19.93%)     max: 1860 Points
Geekbench 2 - 32 Bit: Memory
0% 100%
min: 3933     avg: 3933 (45.3%)     max: 3933 Points
Geekbench 2 - 32 Bit: Floating Point
0% 100%
min: 7523     avg: 7523 (45.3%)     max: 7523 Points
Geekbench 2 - 32 Bit: Integer
0% 100%
min: 3251     avg: 3251 (24.03%)     max: 3251 Points
Geekbench 2 - 32 Bit: Total Score
0% 100%
min: 4743     avg: 4743 (37.54%)     max: 4743 Points
Sunspider:
0% 100%
min: 458     avg: 539.2 (86.61%)     max: 634.6 ms*
Sunspider:
0% 100%
min: 532     avg: 532 (95.85%)     max: 532 ms*
Quadrant Standard Edition 2.0:
0% 100%
min: 21000     avg: 21000 (87.34%)     max: 21000 points
Linpack for Android: Multi Thread
0% 100%
min: 726     avg: 726 (50.17%)     max: 726 MFLOPS
Linpack for Android: Single Thread
0% 100%
min: 673     avg: 673 (87.48%)     max: 673 MFLOPS
- Range of benchmarks for this CPU
- Average benchmark score

Linpack for Android in comparison
Snapdragon S1 MSM7227 (min)
7.4 
...
Samsung Exynos 5430 Octa
388.1 
Apple A7
537.5 
NVIDIA Tegra 4
556.3 
NVIDIA Tegra K1
673 
Apple A8
767.2 
...
Apple A8 (max)
767.2 

Graphics Performance

The integrated GPU is one of the most impressive features of Tegra K1, as it implements a full version of the Kepler core that is found from laptops up to supercomputers. Nvidia's 8-inch Tablet Shield manages to render about 66 fps in GFXBench 2.7 (T-Rex offscreen), more than four times the score of the previous Tegra 4. Compared to the PowerVR GX6450 (Apple A8) and Adreno 420 (Snapdragon 805), Tegra K1 takes the lead by more than 50 percent. Furthermore, Nvidia's tablet SoC is even faster than the Intel HD Graphics 4400 found in serveral note- and ultrabooks.

GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7 - 1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Toshiba Satellite S70-A-10F
GeForce GT 740M, 4700MQ, HGST Travelstar 5K1000 HTS541010A9E680
112 fps ∼17%
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
66 fps ∼10%
Acer Aspire V5-573G
HD Graphics 4400, 4200U
57 fps ∼9%
HP Spectre 13-h205eg x2
HD Graphics 4200, 4202Y, Samsung SSD PM841 MZMTD128HAFV mSATA
47 fps ∼7%
Apple iPhone 6
PowerVR GX6450, A8, 128 GB eMMC Flash
42.6 fps ∼7%
Snapdragon 805 MDP/T
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084
40.7 fps ∼6%
Samsung Galaxy S5
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 16 GB eMMC Flash
27.7 fps ∼4%
Apple iPad Air
PowerVR G6430, A7, 16 GB iNAND Flash
27 fps ∼4%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
Adreno 330, 800 MSM8974, 32 GB SSD
24 fps ∼4%
Toshiba eXcite Pro AT10LE-A-108
GeForce Tegra 4, 4, 16 GB SSD
16 fps ∼2%
GFXBench 3.0 - off screen Manhattan Offscreen (sort by value)
NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W
GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), K1, 16 GB iNAND Flash
31.2 fps ∼1%
Apple iPhone 6
PowerVR GX6450, A8, 128 GB eMMC Flash
17.8 fps ∼1%
Snapdragon 805 MDP/T
Adreno 420, 805 APQ8084
17.7 fps ∼1%
Samsung Galaxy S5
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AC, 16 GB eMMC Flash
11.8 fps ∼1%

Combined with the advanced feature set that exceed the current Android standard OpenGL ES 3.0 (including Tessellation, Geometry Shading, ASTC Texture Compression, ...), Tegra K1 promises to be a serious mobile gaming platform. However, the competing Snapdragon 805 also supports DirectX 11 and therefore a similar feature set. Compared to the previous generation of gaming consoles (PS3 and XBox 360), Tegra K1 could offer similar CPU performance and better GPU performance. However, console developers are quite skilled at optimizing the games for the hardware and gaming on Android and IOS is still evolving.

Power Consumption

Nvidia emphasized the power efficiency of the Tegra K1 SoC in their presentation. Processor and graphics card should be able to beat the (tablet) competition on all power levels according to Nvidia. The TDP for the entire chip is rated at 5 W, however the slides did not mention any reference to the clock rate. It is very likely that a smartphone using Tegra K1 will be significantly slower due to thermal restrictions.

Release Date and Devices

One of the first devices using Tegra K1 is the Nvidia Shield Tablet. In addition, Tegra K1 can be found in the Xiaomi MiPad as well as serveral car infotainment systems.

Reviews for the NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor

Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311-T0B2 (NVIDIA GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), 13.3")
» Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311-T0B2 Chromebook Review - Review
» Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311-T9B0 - External Review

Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311-T9B0 (NVIDIA GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), 13.3")
» Acer Chromebook 13 CB5-311-T9B0 - External Review

NVIDIA Shield Tablet LTE P1761 (NVIDIA GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), 8")
» Nvidia Shield Tablet LTE Review Update - Review
» NVIDIA Shield Tablet LTE P1761 - External Review

NVIDIA Shield Tablet P1761W (NVIDIA GeForce ULP K1 (Tegra K1 Kepler GPU), 8")
» Nvidia Shield Tablet with Tegra K1 Review - Review
» NVIDIA Shield Tablet - External Review
» NVIDIA Shield Tablet with Tegra K1 and Controller announced -

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Other CPUs of the series NVIDIA Tegra

» NVIDIA Tegra K1 (Denver)
   2.3 GHz / 2 MB
» NVIDIA Tegra K1
   2.3 GHz / 2 MB
» NVIDIA Tegra 4
   1.8 GHz / 0 MB
» NVIDIA Tegra 3
   1.2 GHz / 0 MB
» NVIDIA Tegra 2 (250)
   1 GHz / 1 MB

Surrounding CPUs

- AMD A-Series A10 Micro-6700T
   1.2 GHz / 2 MB
- AMD A-Series A4-3310MX
   2.1 GHz / 2 MB
- AMD A-Series A4-3320M
   2 GHz / 2 MB
- Samsung Exynos 5433 Octa
   1.9 GHz / 0 MB
- Apple A8
   1.4 GHz / 1 MB + 4 MB
» NVIDIA Tegra K1
   2.3 GHz / 2 MB
+ Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 APQ8084
   2.7 GHz / 2048 KB
+ Intel Atom Z3580
   2.33 GHz / 2048 KB
+ Intel Atom Z3736F
   1.33 GHz / 2048 KB
+ Intel Atom Z3736G
   1.33 GHz / 2048 KB
+ AMD Turion X2 Ultra ZM-85
   2.3 GHz / 2048 KB
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > FAQ / Tips / Technics > Notebook Processors > NVIDIA Tegra K1 SoC
Author: Klaus Hinum (Update: 2014-10-16)