Tegra 3 Project Kal-El Benchmarks Revealed – Not Quad Core – it’s Quintuple Core!

by: Darcy LaCouveeSeptember 20, 2011

Nvidia has just dropped a nugget of gold at our doorstep – and it contains a bit of a bombshell folks. It turns out that Project Kal-El, also known as “Tegra 3” is not actual a Quad Core SoC after all – it’s a Quintuple Core SoC.

Not disclosed publicly previously, is a trick that Nvidia has been keeping up their sleeve — until today. Employing a novel process dubbed Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing (vSMP) technology — NVIDIA’s Project Kal-El SoC includes a fifth “Companion Core” created using a special low power silicon process that executes select tasks like music playback,  video playback, reading loaded web pages, RSS’ reading, and accomplishes this all at extremely low frequencies for even further power savings.

Quad Core What? 

Even though there’s a fifth “Companion” core, there’s still four main A9 Cortex cores standing by, hungry for more. These four main cores have been created using a standard silicon manufacturing process, and are designed to reach significantly higher frequencies. Nividia claims that they can do this while still consuming less power than their dual core counterparts, and for many tasks, so long as the software has been optimized. Additionally, all five CPU cores are ARM Cortex A9 CPUs, and are controlled based on how much processing is thrown their way, via a process Nvidia dubs “aggressive power gating”.


According to Nvidia, the benefits of quad-core (multi-core, quintuple core, etc), are as follows:

  • Lower power consumption, Higher performance per watt
  • Faster Web page load times
  • Higher Performance for Demanding Applications
  • Faster Multitasking
  • Higher Quality Gaming

Web Browsing Benchmarks

Chances are, the computer you are looking at Android Authority on right now is a running a multi-core setup. On a quad core CPU based system, the operating system is be able to spread the load of multiple web scripts across the numerous cores to deliver significantly faster execution of JavaScript heavy pages. According to the benchmarks just released from Nvidia and Moonbat, a web based JavaScript benchmark, show that a quad core CPU delivers almost fifty percent faster web browsing performance compared to a dual core CPU based mobile processor, and based off of what we know, we’re keen to agree with them.

What do I need all of these cores for anyways? 

More cores are simply better folks, so long as the software is optimized to take advantage of them. Quad core CPU-based processors – mobile or not –  deliver significantly higher levels of performance for the type of applications below, and deliver a compelling performance advantage over their single and even dual core set-ups. Examples include:

  • High quality video editing
  • Image processing
  • Audio/video transcoding
  • Physics simulations
  • Numerous productivity apps
  • Many forms of location-aware computing
  • Facial recognition
  • 3D stereo games and applications
  • Virus scans
  • File compression

The best multitasking Experience to date?

Think about how you use your Android device. It’s not uncommon to have it streaming music, while you read a webpage with multiple tabs open, email and social networks syncing, and perhaps even more. Under this sort of workload, it’s no wonder why the single- core Android champs of yesteryear, like the HTC Thunderbolt, ran dry in a few short hours. Under such a heavy multitasking load, a single core CPU not only has to work a high frequency continuously, it also results in significantly higher power consumption which leads to a device running dry in no time.

With quad core CPU’s on mobile devices, future versions of Android will be able to dynamically allocate workloads across different cores, all while doing this at lower frequencies and with no compromise in the user experience. Simply put – they’re going to rock your world.

Bottom line – quad core CPU’s provide significant processing power for game, app, and web developers to take advantage of. We are finally achieving a reality where our mobile devices will have a power envelope that holds parity with some of the more powerful devices of today – but in a mobile device. Multi-Core CPU Architecture will enable mobile devices to further push the performance envelop to levels never before anticipated, and allow application and game developers to create amazing new mobile experiences, all while extending battery life for the ways most people use their devices. Of course remember folks – very few people have seen how Tegra 3 actually performs in the real world. That being said, I have no doubt to the validity of Nvidia’s claims – they’re playing for keeps, and are really taking this mobile computing stuff seriously.

And let’s not forget about the power savings. Nvidia reckons that we’ll see a significant decrease in power use, which equals better battery life, and based off the information we’ve mentioned above that we derived from their whitepapers, we’re inclined to agree with them.

Additionally, there’s the newly designed GPU, with 12 cores all on its own.  Said to offer three-times the performance of Tegra 2, it not only should provide amazing performance on current versions of Android, but will also really take mobile computing to new heights once developers get on the bandwagon, with great stuff like dynamic lighting and real-time physics rendering and dynamic lighting.


Any thoughts? Want to know when these processors are coming? Sooner than you think. Viva the quad – no wait, quintuple core revolution!

And for those of you feeling especially nerdy, check out the freshly published whitepapers on Nvidia’s upcoming Project Kal-El below:

The Benefits of Quad Core CPU’s in Mobile Devices 3A Multi-Core CPU Architecture for Low Power and High Performance

  • lithic

    Performance benefit aside (it sure is nice though!), the one thing that holds me back from replacing my Iphone 3gs with a modern Android phone is that everytime I talk to a friend that has one, right at the end of the conversation they tack on “I does REALLY munch through battery though”
    All the performance gain in the world doesn’t really matter to me if my mobile device runs low on battery after seriously using it for 1-2 hours. The power saving part is what is REALLY a show stopper to me.

    • you are quitte right about power consumption. i suggest looking in to current bench mark andriod phones ie. HTC Sensation or Samsung Galaxy S II with UnderVoltaged kernels. you’d be amazed how much it improves batter life. also with the new android 4.0 ICS jst around the corner, you’ll be thrilled with ur android options. ICS said to be intensive optimised to reduce os power consumption and to manage hardware n software more efficiently!! i am waiting for htc or samsung to release a device with tegra 3 or snapdragon s4 to upgrade from my HTC Desire HD. fyi, i have a android 2.3.5 sense 3.5 rom with an under voltaged kernel overclocked at 1.5GHz and milking a full day (12hrs out of charger minimum) of calls, sms, gmail, facebook, g+, youtube, skype, viber, web browsing, music play back at a casual rate… so its pretty good imo..

    • dork

      which is hopefully one of the major things that this amazing innovation should sort out
      as well as the new os dropping later that is giving smaller devices the battery life and perfomance ++ of the larger

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  • Et

    Erm, I think you made a minor mistake with figure 6 isn’t it suppose to be tegra 2 dual core codename venus

  • And_the_eagles

    If this chip goes Moto exclusive again in 2012 (and I guess thats pretty much a given already), people will just root their devices like they always have to get around it. So kiss goodbye you’re limited 5-6 special graphic accelerated games in 2012

  • Meemo

    i”m calling BS on the power numbers. It’s claiming to use LESS power with 4 cores @1GHz than a dual core Scorpion? No way since they are at the same process node and the A9 is a SLIGHTLY more power intensive proc (OoO).

  • Meemo

    One more thing.
    If the gpu numbers are right it still looks to be slower than the SGXmp2. Frankly I’m not sure that Nvidia can ever catchup in graphics without licensing either adreno or Imagination tech.