Kepler Mobile will bring true console-like graphics to Tegra devices (video)

April 12, 2013
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Nvidia logo CES [aa] (2)

A demo of Nvidia’s upcoming Kepler Mobile GPUs shows a mobile chip running Battlefield 3. By adapting the high performance Kepler architecture to the constraints of mobile devices, Nvidia hopes to make true console-like mobile graphics a reality.

Read the reviews of modern mobile games, like Infinity Blade 2 on iOS or Dead Trigger on Android, and you’re likely to find someone calling the graphics “console quality”.  But the truth is that, while mobile games have developed tremendously in the past years, we’re still nowhere near to having mobile graphics that can compare to high-end PC or console graphics.

Nvidia is hard at work to change that. The Santa Clara-based company is adapting its Kepler GPU architecture (which launched last year on GPUs like the GeForce 600 series) to the limitations of mobile environments. Instead of drawing watts of power, a mobile chip must operate in the milliwatts realm. To achieve that and deliver superior performance it takes tremendous work, but if there’s anyone who can make it happen, it’s Nvidia.

Yesterday at Nvidia’s investors’ day event, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang demoed this video of Battlefield 3 (courtesy of VentureBeat) running on an unspecified Kepler Mobile-based processor, supposedly on a tablet device. The video first shows an iPad 4 game, whose graphics Huang calls “vintage 1999” and then Battlefield 3 running on Kepler Mobile.

Needless to say the difference is enormous. The post processing and the effects available on the Kepler device are amazing, although still not on par with what you can see on a high-end gaming PC.

Now for the piece of salt part – Nvidia has initially promised a Kepler-based architecture for the Tegra 4 system-on-a-chip. We’re still waiting to see the first Tegra 4 device (probably Project Shield) on the market. Kepler Mobile is likely to come in Tegra 5, if Nvidia can stick to its roadmap. It’s possible that we’ll have to wait at least another year before we can see Kepler-based mobile SoCs in mobile devices.

Another worrying  consideration is the fact that Nvidia is forced to drum up its 2014 Tegra 5 processor, instead of giving us what we really want now – Tegra 4 chips, preferably with LTE.

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