Nvidia Tegra K1

NVIDIA Tegra 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
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
64 Bitno 64 Bit support
Announcement Date01/06/2014

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. The announced Snapdragon 805, however, features new Krait 450 cores that can be clocked even higher at up to 2.5 GHz. Therefore, the performance of the new Qualcomm should be similar to the Nvidia offering according to press release specifications.

Since the Tegra 4 is already on par with the current fastest mobile offerings like Snapdragon 800 or the Exynos 5 Octa 5420 (especially the fan equipped Nvidia Shield Tegra 4 running at 1.9 GHz), the performance claims of Tegra K1 sound reasonable. The move to 28nm HPM and the 3rd revision of the A15 design should make this performance jump possible. Samsung could also make the same move with their Exynos-based SoC in the near future.

CPU Benchmarks

3DMark (2013): Ice Storm Unlimited Physics 1280x720 offscreen
0% 100%
min: 16299     avg: 16299 (26.51%)     max: 16299 Points
- Range of benchmarks for this CPU
- Average benchmark score

Graphics Performance

However, what Samsung cannot easily do is move to a new graphics architecture. This is where Tegra K1 stands out, as it implements a full version of the Kepler core that is found from laptops up to supercomputers. In a 7-inch Tegra K1 reference tablet, Nvidia claims the ability to render 60 fps in the GFXBench 2.7.5 T-Rex offscreen test. In our benchmarks, the PowerVR G6430 in the iPad Air was the fastest ARM-based SoC GPU, which achieved only 27 fps. The similarly sized iPad Mini Retina managed 25 fps in the same benchmark. 60 fps would be similar to a Haswell-based Intel HD Graphics 4400 (e.g. in the 4200U). The Adreno 330 achieved 20 - 24 fps in our benchmarks (e.g. in the Galaxy Note 3 or 10.1). Even the announced Adreno 420, which should be up to 40% faster than its predecessor, is not expected to outperform the Tegra K1. Thanks to the 128 Bit memory interface and similar feature support it could play in the same league however.

GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7 - 1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16
Tegra K1 Reference Tablet
Tegra K1
60 fps ∼9%
Toshiba Satellite S70-A-10F
Core i7-4700MQ; GeForce GT 740M
112 fps ∼17%
Acer Aspire V5-573G
Core i5-4200U; HD Graphics 4400
57 fps ∼9%
HP Spectre 13-h205eg x2
Core i5-4202Y; HD Graphics 4200
47 fps ∼7%
Apple iPad Air
A7; G6430
27 fps ∼4%
Apple iPad mini Retina
A7; G6430
27 fps ∼4%
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 SM-N9005
Snapdragon 800; Adreno 330
24 fps ∼4%
Toshiba eXcite Pro AT10LE-A-108
Tegra 4
16 fps ∼2%

In an early release candidate version of GFXBench 3.0, the Tegra K1 was able to score 2x as many points as the PowerVR G6430 in the iPad Mini Retina according to Nvidia. As other benchmark results were not shared with us, users should keep in mind that these two results may be under ideal conditions for Tegra K1 and performance in other benchmarks may be lower. However, the specifications and GFXBench results indicate that the Kepler GPU in Tegra K1 will be the fastest graphics card in ARM-based chips (at least for the moment, as of early 2014). Combined with the advanced feature sets 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 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 there will be several versions of Tegra K1 for different devices like smartphones or tablets, which differ in clock rate and power consumption.

Release Date and Devices

Nvidia was rather vague about the design wins for Tegra K1. They only divulged to the press that they expect a lot of mobile devices with Tegra K1 in the near future. An updated version of the Shield is also expected, though a retail Tegra K1 version of the Tegra Note 7 has not been confirmed as of this writing. We expect to see additional form factors spanning both smartphones and tablets with the Tegra K1 hardware.

:: No reviews found for this CPU (yet).

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Other CPUs of the series

» NVIDIA Tegra K1
   2.3 GHz / 2 MB
» Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 APQ8084
   2.5 GHz / 2 MB
» Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 adMSM8974AC
   2.45 GHz / 2 MB
» VIA Nano QuadCore L4700
   1.2 GHz / 4 MB
» Qualcomm MSM8974AB
   2.3 GHz / 2 MB
» Qualcomm MSM8974
   2.3 GHz / 2 MB
» Mediatek MT6595
   2 GHz / 0 MB
» Samsung Exynos 5420 Octa
   1.8 GHz / 0.5 MB
» NVIDIA Tegra 4
   1.8 GHz / 0 MB
» Apple A7
   1.3 GHz / 1 MB + 4 MB
» Samsung Exynos 5410 Octa
   1.6 GHz / 0.5 MB
» MT8135
   1.7 GHz / 0 MB
» Samsung Exynos 5250 Dual
   1.7 GHz / 1 MB
» Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 MSM8936
   0 GHz / 0 MB
» Mediatek MT6592
   1.7 GHz / 1 MB
» Samsung Exynos 5260 Hexa
   1.7 GHz / 0 MB
» Qualcomm APQ8064T
   1.7 GHz / 2 MB
» Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8064A
   1.5 GHz / 2 MB
» Qualcomm Snapdragon 610 MSM8939
   0 GHz / 0 MB
» RK3188
   1.8 GHz / 0 MB
» Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 MSM8916
   0 GHz / 0 MB
» Intel Celeron 220
   1.2 GHz / 0.5 MB
» AMD GX-210JA
   1 GHz / 1 MB
» Apple A6x
   1.4 GHz / 0 MB
» Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8960T
   1.7 GHz / 1 MB
» Qualcomm 8930AB
   1.7 GHz / 1 MB
» Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8060A
   1.5 GHz / 1 MB
» Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8960
   1.5 GHz / 1 MB
» Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8260A
   1.5 GHz / 1 MB
» Apple A6
   1 GHz / 0 MB
» Samsung Exynos 4412 Quad
   1.4 GHz / 0 MB
» NVIDIA Tegra 3
   1.2 GHz / 0 MB
» Mediatek MT6589T
   1.5 GHz / 2 MB
» Mediatek MT8389
   1.2 GHz / 1 MB
» Mediatek MT8125
   1.2 GHz / 1 MB
» Mediatek MT6582M
   1.3 GHz / 0.5 MB
» Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8226
   1.2 GHz / 0 MB
» Mediatek MT6589
   1.2 GHz / 0 MB
» Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8930
   1.2 GHz / 1 MB
» Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8230
   1.2 GHz / 1 MB
» Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8230
   1.2 GHz / 1 MB
» Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8227
   1 GHz / 1 MB
» Intel Celeron 2.8
   2.8 GHz / 0.1 MB
» Samsung Exynos 4212 1.5 GHz
   1.5 GHz / 1 MB
» OMAP 4470
   1.5 GHz / 0 MB
» k3v2 Hi3620
   1.2 GHz / 0 MB
» RK3066
   1.5 GHz / 0.5 MB
» Qualcomm 8225Q
   1.2 GHz / 0 MB
» Mediatek MT8312
   1.3 GHz / 0 MB
» MP5232
   1.5 GHz / 0 MB
» Marvell Technology Group PXA986
   1.2 GHz / 0 MB
» AML8726-MX
   1.5 GHz / 0.5 MB
» Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8660
   1.7 GHz / 1 MB
» Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8260
   1.5 GHz / 1 MB
» Samsung Exynos 4210 1.4 GHz
   1.4 GHz / 1 MB
» OMAP 4460
   1.2 GHz / 0 MB
» RK3168
   1.2 GHz / 0 MB
» Samsung Exynos 4210 1.2 GHz
   1.2 GHz / 1 MB
» MT8377
   1.2 GHz / 1 MB
» Broadcom BCM28155
   1.2 GHz / 0 MB
» OMAP 4430
   1 GHz / 0 MB
» MT6572
   1.2 GHz / 1 MB
» Apple A5x
   1 GHz / 0 MB
» Qualcomm MSM8225
   1.5 GHz / 0 MB
» Apple A5
   1 GHz / 0 MB
» NVIDIA Tegra 250
   1 GHz / 1 MB
» MTK 8317T
   1.2 GHz / 0 MB
» MT6577
   1 GHz / 0 MB
» NovaThor U8500
   1 GHz / 0 MB
» NovaThor U8420
   1 GHz / 0 MB
» MT6575
   1 GHz / 0 MB
» Qualcomm MSM8255
   1.5 GHz / 0 MB
» RK2918 1.2 GHz
   1.2 GHz / 0 MB
» A10
   1.2 GHz / 0 MB
» Cortex A8 1.2 GHz
   1.2 GHz / 0 MB
» Apple A4
   1 GHz / 0 MB
» A13
   1 GHz / 0 MB
» WM8950
   1 GHz / 0 MB
» Qualcomm MSM7227A
   1 GHz / 0.3 MB
» Qualcomm MSM7225A
   1 GHz / 0.3 MB
» OMAP 3630 1GHz
   1 GHz / 0 MB
» OMAP 3622
   1 GHz / 0 MB
» RK2918
   1 GHz / 0 MB
» TCC8803 1GHz
   1 GHz / 0 MB
» ZiiLABS ZMS-08
   1 GHz / 0 MB
» Cortex A8
   1 GHz / 0 MB
» ATM7029
   1 GHz / 0 MB
» Qualcomm Snapdragon S1 QSD8250
   1 GHz / 0 MB
» Loongson 2F
   0.9 GHz / 0.5 MB
» Qualcomm Snapdragon S1 MSM7227
   0.6 GHz / 0 MB
» unknown
   0 GHz / 0 MB

Surrounding CPUs

- Intel Core 2 Duo T5600
   1.83 GHz / 2 MB
- AMD Athlon II M300
   2 GHz / 1 MB
- AMD Turion X2 Ultra ZM-80
   2.1 GHz / 2 MB
- Intel Core i5 520UM
   1.06 GHz / 0.5 MB + 3 MB
- Intel Celeron J1750
   2.41 GHz / 1 MB
» NVIDIA Tegra K1
   2.3 GHz / 2 MB
+ AMD Athlon X2 QL-65
   2.1 GHz / 1024 KB
+ AMD Athlon X2 QL-64
   2.1 GHz / 1024 KB
+ Intel Celeron N2910
   1.6 GHz / 2048 KB
+ AMD Turion X2 RM-72
   2.1 GHz / 1024 KB
+ AMD A-Series A6-1450
   1 GHz / 2048 KB
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > FAQ / Tips / Technics > Notebook Processors > NVIDIA Tegra K1 SoC
Author: Klaus Hinum (Update: 2014-01-11)