Kal-El was the name Superman was known as before heading to Earth and naming anything after such an iconic character is a brave move. However with a quad-core CPU and a 12-core GPU, Nvidia’s latest mobile SOC seems to be worthy of the name.
Nvidia confirmed at Mobile World Congress what we had suspected since we saw leaked images last month of Nvidia’s roadmap. Codenamed Kal-El, and in all likelihood to be known as Tegra 3, the new silicon is already being sampled out to prospective clients – and we’d imagine a lot of manufacturers would want to get their hands on these beasts. Nvidia has said we will be seeing the processors in tablets this August and smartphones as early as December. Considering we have just seen the first raft of mobile devices sporting the newly released Tegra 2, that is a frightening prospect – in a good way of course.
Nvidia has obviously not read our piece on the problems with multi-core devices and the Tegra 3 will do little to assuage the worries related to hardware out-striping software on mobile devices at the moment – not to mention the problems for battery life. For now though we should marvel at what Nvidia has created with Kal-El and at its presentation at MWC it showed off some of the processing grunt the new chip will bring. The first demo saw a 2560 x 1440 stream being decoded on a developmental device, scaled down to that slate's native 1366 x 768 resolution, and additionally displayed on a connected 30-inch, 2560 x 1600 monitor – without any signs of struggling by Kal-El.
While the Tegra 3 chip will have double the processing power of the Tegra 2, it will have up to three times the graphical prowess and a comparative demo of Great Battles Medieval, ran at 720p with 650 enemy soldiers on the field, showed how much better Kal-El was compared to its baby brother. In response to people’s worries about battery life with this Nvidia says that Tegra 3 will be a lot more efficient and under the right conditions you could see up to 12 hours of HD video playback.
With Qualcomm also announcing quad-core Snapdragon processors at MWC it is clear that hardware of moving at a very fast pace and it is now going to require the software to catch up very quickly.