During its CES press conference, NVIDIA revealed its new Tegra K1 SoC will be available in two versions. One version will ship with four ARM Cortex A15s, while the other will ship with two NVIDIA designed Denver CPU cores. We don't know much about Denver other than it's a custom 7-wide superscalar 64-bit ARMv8 design.

NVIDIA claims very high single and multithreaded CPU performance. It's important to note that the Denver version only comes with two cores, something we've argued is likely the more optimal use of die area in mobile. Max frequencies top out at 2.5GHz. Given that NVIDIA has silicon back already I suspect this is a 28nm design. The L1 cache is 128KB + 64KB (I$ and D$?).

The Denver CPU cores will be paired with a 192 CUDA core Kepler implementation (1 SMX). No word on differences in power or performance. The Cortex A15 version of Tegra K1 will be available in 1H 2014, while the Denver version will be available in 2H. The two SoCs are pin-compatible, indicating that there won't be any difference in memory interface width.

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  • Exophase - Monday, January 6, 2014 - link

    A15 will share L2 cache. nVidia isn't about to make such a massive change to ARM's RTL. I doubt there'd be much of a point anyway.

    On the Denver variant, I only see local L2 happening if there's a shared L3, Nehalem (and forward) style. Everyone else has moved towards shared LLC, except for archaic designs like Wii U's.
  • Exophase - Monday, January 6, 2014 - link

    These L1 caches are gigantic as far as L1 caches go, but that hardly obviates L2 cache entirely. The trend has been to move towards more levels in the cache hierarchy; even in mobile we can see the first signs of L3 caches. I can hardly see nVidia moving in the opposite direction here.
  • Kevin G - Monday, January 6, 2014 - link

    Indeed. I'm curious about the L1 latencies since they're so large. The massive L1 Instruction cache is just massive at 128 KB.
  • jjj - Monday, January 6, 2014 - link

    Nice to see that the core seems big ,hoping for a less mobile chip with it at some point since on the x86 side we aren't getting more cores at sane prices.
  • chizow - Monday, January 6, 2014 - link

    Denver K1 looks to be a monster. All the CPU perf of Apple's A7 with unseen GPU graphics from a full Kepler SMX. Only question is WHEN. Could be a great year for Nvidia in the mobile space.

    Definitely glad to see they are going with 2 beefier cores over 4 or even 8 weaker cores. Also great to see they are pin-compatible, means they should be much more flexible in terms of options on any particular device (entry-level A15, high-end Denver).
  • MikhailT - Monday, January 6, 2014 - link

    At this point, while I'm excited to hear about this, I feel like it doesn't really matter much.

    We've seen this type of progress/innovation from nVidia for the past few years but they're not really winning much design wins. I'm pretty sure I've seen more AMD design wins for their laptop APUs than Tegra 2/3/4 combined.

    With that aside, it would be interesting to see what nVidia can do with K1-based Note 7" project. I'm still waiting for a good alternative to iPad. Asus/Nexus is banned in my household as their products keep failing in months, while my original iPad is still working properly.
  • jameskatt - Monday, January 6, 2014 - link

    By the time an Android Phone is on sale with this chip, we will see Apple's A8 chip on the iPads and iPhones - and probably the iPod Touch also. nVidia is simply playing catch up with Apple.
  • Torrijos - Monday, January 6, 2014 - link

    While I agree with you (about the delay between announcement & release for everybody in the industry except Apple), I still wonder about the implication on the GPU side for Apple...

    A long time ago PowerVR lost the battle for GPU domination in the game console market when they moved towards more polygons, I wonder how the current core of each GPU IP compares?

    AMD seems to offer better OpenCL performances than Nvidia, while Nvidia seems to offer better graphical performances per watts.
    Where does PowerVR Series 6 (rogue) falls on this aspects? Right now it still lags in openGL (3.2) what about the rest (and their implication in mobile)?
  • MikhailT - Monday, January 6, 2014 - link

    ImgTech announced the PowerVR Series 6XT today. It seems to be a refresh of Series 6, quicker and more power efficient. I have a feeling that Apple will be quicker with A8 CPU, but slower with GPU this year, I doubt 6XT will catch up with K1.

  • winterspan - Monday, January 6, 2014 - link

    There are many reasons for this, most relevant being that Nvidia hasn't had a combined LTE/Applications processor SoC. They are working on one now, but be first one doesn't have high end CPU cores. This requires device makers to have to buy and integrate a separate 4G LTE chip, thus you see Qualcomms dominance.
    Also, Nvidia really hasn't delivered well. Their chips are always less impressive than the marketing. Tegra 2/3 only had a single memory channel and mediocre GPU performance. Tegra 4 is better, but still doesn't have a unified shader GPU hick supports all the modern OpenGL/DirectX standards. I'm excited to see how this K1 chip does though....

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