SAN FRANCISCO—As expected, Nvidia Corp. Wednesday (Nov. 9) formally launched its Tegra 3 processor, codenamed "Kal-El," a quad-core processor that has been designed into the Asus EE Pad Transformer Prime media tablet.
According to Nvidia (Santa Clara, Calif.), Tegra 3 provides up to three times the graphics performance and up to 61 percent lower power consumption compared to the the previous-generation Tegra 2. This translates into 12 hours of battery life for HD video playback, according to the company.
Tegra 3 was initially expected to be available by the end of this summer of in early September, but the company said last month it would be officially launched Wednesday. Earlier, some reports suggested that the processor faced longer delays.
Nvidia said Tegra 3 implements a new, patent-pending technology known as variable symmetric multiprocessing (vSMP), which includes a fifth "companion" CPU core specifically
designed for work requiring little power. The four main cores are specifically designed for work requiring high performance, and generally consume less power than dual-core processors, Nvidia said.
During tasks that require less power consumption—like listening to music, playing back video or updating background data—the Tegra 3 processor completely shuts down its four performance-tuned cores and, instead, uses its companion core. For high-performance tasks—like web browsing, multitasking and gaming—the Tegra 3 processor disables the companion, Nvidia said.
"Nvidia's fifth core is ingenious," said Nathan Brookwood, Research Fellow at Insight 64, in a statement issued by Nvidia. "Tegra 3's vSMP technology extends the battery life of next-generation mobile devices by using less power when they're handling undemanding tasks and then ratcheting up performance when it's really needed."
The Tegra 3 quad-core CPUs are complemented with a new 12-core NVIDIA GeForce GPU, which delivers more realism with dynamic lighting, physical effects and high resolution environments, plus support for 3-D stereo, Nvidia said.