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Tuesday, 20 September 2011 20:09

Nvidia details Kal-El further

Written by Slobodan Simic

Reveals the fifth "Companion" core

Although there has been many details regarding the Kal-El, Nvidia managed to keep the final and probably most important details for itself. Today, Nvidia released a new batch of details and the fact that it actually has five cores has certainly caught off-guard a lot of people. The fifth, or as Nvidia names it, "companion" ARM core, will stand beside four other cores and the MPE.


The fifth, "companion" core will work together with the rest of the cores but not at the same time as you can either have one or four regular cores working or the lone companion core, all thanks to the little thing that Nvidia calls Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing (vSMP) technology. But the good news is that the companion core will handle all the background tasks, like downloading emails, updating Facebook and tweet updates, etc., when the phone is in active standby.


The fifth core works on lower voltage, can clock to a maximum 500MHz clock and, of course, needs a lot less power, which means higher battery life. According to Nvidia, it is possible to switch between regular cores and the companion one in less than 2ms, so we guess that you won't ever see it.


Nvidia showed some of the numbers that compares the Kal-El to Tegra 2 and claims up to 61 percent power saving in HD video playback and even up to 34 percent in gaming.


Nvidia also compared the gameing performance between the Tegra 2 and its upcoming Kal-El as well as the performance compared to some of the other competing processors, the OMAP4 and QC8660.



Nvidia's Kal-El sounds like a decent quad-core mobile chip, and all we have to do is wait for it to finally show up so we can see those performance/power efficiency claims come true on some device.

You can find the whitepaper here.

Last modified on Tuesday, 20 September 2011 20:47
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+36 #1 HPC Master 2011-09-20 21:00
Buy 4, get 1 Free... "dan" you NOT first... :D :cry: :D ... so NVIDIA's SoC (vSMP) technology is 1 year ahead !!!
+33 #2 bardenck 2011-09-20 22:14
nvidia haters turn in their grave! no more BS from amd lovers about power hungry chips from nvidia! i love it, great job nvidia. quad core gaming etc. with great battery life...

dan isn't first because he's in shock with nothing valid to say. (not saying he ever does).
+30 #3 HPC Master 2011-09-20 22:32
Yeah, big words my friend ;-) I think "dan" will go headshot himself :-x :cry: :-x rofl
+33 #4 KillerHurdz 2011-09-20 22:34
What's this talk about a companion cube? :o

+32 #5 HPC Master 2011-09-20 22:50
It's unique: The fifth core works on lower voltage, can clock to a maximum 500MHz clock and, of course, needs a lot less power, which means higher battery life to handle all the “low-power” tasks:

Like running the operating system in sleep mode, checking emails and notification, and keeping the system alive when you are reading a book, playing media files. When that companion core is working >>> all the “normal” high-performance cores can be shut down!
-40 #6 pogsnet 2011-09-20 23:47
All Kal-El publicity to hide the kepler issue hmmm.......

Anyway with that data my Pentium I with Savage Pro is 10x faster than that.
+32 #7 chyll2 2011-09-20 23:53
it is a nice idea. Love it. I wonder if this design is better when implemented to desktop SoC.
+37 #8 bene 2011-09-21 00:01
You should also mention what the 2 of the "Measured Power"-table means:

"CPU power measured by taking total system power running Coremark (averaged over the full test) and subtracting system power at OS-Idle to arrive at CPU only power. Note that Kal-El runs in companion mode during OS-Idle."

Now i really wonder how good companion mode really is? power gating? leakages?
A big idle wattage leads to low measured wattage in nvidias logic, that could explain why the numbers look sooo good and why they do not mention the idle wattage (most important for smartphones). Or did Nvidia cheat? Were the same functions enabled on both devices? 45nm vs 40nm just wont give you 140% efficiency gain on same clock and architecture (Cortex A9) compared to OMAP4. ridicolous!
+33 #9 HPC Master 2011-09-21 00:14
The fifth A9 "companion" core is produced with low-power transistors. This point clearly to lower leakage currents, but require significantly more voltage to achieve high clock rates.

The other four A9 cores are made with transistors that are designed with the lowest possible voltage to achieve high clock rates. Problem is, that these in turn have high leakage currents, thereby unnecessarily consumes power when idling.

Since nVidia has developed into Tegra 3 is a completely new power management, they are now separated into a position at low load all high-performance cores to complete switch off the circuit, causing the IDLE consumption and lower load consumption can be reduced significantly. This sounds in theory, very ingenious, let's wait and see...
+29 #10 Warrior24_7 2011-09-21 00:22
"This fall, however, Nvidia’s quad-core Tegra 3 (code-name “Kal-El”) will up the ante with performance estimated to be close to that of an Xbox 360. That includes graphics."-Maximum PC

This didn't surprise too many people who's job it is to stay on top of this type of $h!t.

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