Nvidia previews quad-core Tegra 3 for late 2011

Nvidia Tegra 3
Nvidia Tegra 3 is coming later in the year

Nvidia has given TechRadar a sneek preview of the next generation of Tegra processor.

The new chipset – not yet officially called Tegra 3 – is codenamed Project Kal-El (yep, we know) and is "the world's first mobile quad-core CPU". Tegra 3 will most likely make its debut in late 2011.

And we're not overstating it when we say that it's awesome – we were blown away by the early stuff we saw. It'll have four cores with, wait for it, a 12 core graphics processing unit.

Nvidia tegra 3

The new chip will offer incredible graphics resolution – up to 2,560 x 1,600 (dubbed Extreme HD) and provide so-called 3D stereo. In some apps, we were told, it will have five times the performance of Nvidia Tegra 2. And, as you'll hear, we could be talking about 100 times the performance of Tegra 2 in three years' time.

And when you see a Tegra 2 tablet running Android 3.0 Honeycomb, you'll find it hard to imagine just what that five time performance increase would be like.

As Tegra is ARM-based, Kal-El is based on the ARM Cortex-A9 design, but as with Qualcomm's Snapdragon, Nvidia has done a lot of extra work, especially on the graphics side.

"You won't see this from any of the other guys," said Nick Stam, Nvidia's director of technical marketing. "You won't see this from Qualcomm, or TI or whoever. Our guys have so much expertise with GeForce."

The Tegra roadmap we've seen goes until 2014 – as we know the Cortex-A15 is coming from ARM it's not hard to see where this is going. Interestingly for Microsoft-watchers, latter variants of Cortex-A15 will support DirectX-11 as well. Next from Kal-El is Wayne in 2012, Logan in 2013 and Stark in 2014.

Nvidia tegra 3

"This is the very first actual product manufactured and demoed right now. The chip is in there, ARM architecture. In 2014, Stark will have 100 times the performance of Tegra 2."

"It will make its graphics performance maybe 3x Tegra 2. We're running at 1GHz right now in the demo, but that could scale up and will most likely will."

"Right here we're not giving product names, we're not formally naming it yet, but it's coming."

We were also shown a more secretive demo of Tegra 3 pumping out 1440p, or 2560 x 1440 to give it its proper resolution. This is a serious graphics processor.

Nvidia tegra 3


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site T3.com. Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.