Nvidia announces latest mobile processor, the Tegra X1

by: Andrew GrushJanuary 4, 2015
1.6K

tegra-x1-a

At CES 2015 Nvidia unveiled its next gen mobile CPU, the Tegra X1. The latest chip is based on Nvidia’s 256-core Maxwell GPU, and features an eight-core 64-bit CPU and follows up last year’s Tegra K1.

The Tegra X1 is the first mobile processor to achieve 1 teraflop throughput, handles 4K video at 60Hz, and is said to be twice as powerful as the K1. It’s worth mentioning that the first supercomputer to pull off more than 1 teraflop did so in 2000 and needed 10 million watts to achieve such a feat, showing how far we’ve come. In addition to featuring a major boost in processing power, the X1 is also just as, if not slightly more, power efficient than its predecessor.

As per Nvidia PR, here are the main specs of the new chip:

  • 256-core Maxwell GPU
  • 8 CPU cores (4x ARM Cortex A57 + 4x ARM Cortex A53)
  • 60 fps 4K video (H.265, H.264, VP9)
  • 1.3 gigapixel of camera throughput
  • 20nm process

tegra x1 specs

Nvidia naturally focused on the graphics abilities of its so called “superchip” and highlighted the support for graphics standards like Unreal Engine 4, DirectX 12, OpenGL 4.5, CUDA(R), OpenGL ES 3.1 and the Android Extension Pack, as well as individual features like Voxel Global Illumination for real-time dynamic global illumination and Multi-Frame Anti-Aliasing.

“To achieve this dream, enormous advances in visual and parallel computing are required. The Tegra X1 mobile super chip, with its one teraflops of processing power, is a giant step into this revolution,” said Nvidia’s CEO Jen-Hsun Huang.

On the CPU side, Nvidia opted for a standard ARM configuration, with 4 fast Cortex A57 cores and 4 power saving Cortex A53 cores connected into a big.LITTLE configuration that allows on the fly allocation of resources depending on the task. This setup is similar to that used by Qualcomm on the Snapdragon 810, and it will be interesting to see how the chips fare against each others in benchmarks and real world performance. Nvidia has skipped its custom Denver cores for the Tegra X1, though Denver may make a return on a future gen.

tegra x1 specs

Nvidia is also pushing hard automotive applications; a dual-Tegra X1 setup powers the Drive CX virtual cockpit/infotainment system, which is capable of handling 17MP of graphic output, the equivalent of two 4K screens.

At least at the time of this writing Nvidia has yet to announce any devices that feature the Tegra X1, though the company offered a vague timeline for the rollout, with the first devices equipped with the chip to begin arriving in the first half of the year. Nvidia has a history of having trouble delivering on its promises, so it remains to be seen whether Tegra X1 will fare any better.

Read the press release for the official rundown on Tegra X1.

Show Press Release

Tegra X1 is built on the same NVIDIA Maxwell(TM) GPU architecture rolled out only months ago for the world’s top-performing gaming graphics card, the GeForce(R) GTX 980. The 256-core Tegra X1 provides twice the performance of its predecessor, the Tegra K1, which is based on the previous-generation Kepler(TM) architecture and debuted at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show.

Tegra processors are built for embedded products, mobile devices, autonomous machines and automotive applications. Tegra X1 will begin appearing in the first half of the year.

It will be featured in the newly announced NVIDIA DRIVE(TM) car computers. DRIVE PX is an auto-pilot computing platform that can process video from up to 12 onboard cameras to run capabilities providing Surround-Vision, for a seamless 360-degree view around the car, and Auto-Valet, for true self-parking. DRIVE CX is a complete cockpit platform designed to power the advanced graphics required across the increasing number of screens used for digital clusters, infotainment, head-up displays, virtual mirrors and rear-seat entertainment.

“We see a future of autonomous cars, robots and drones that see and learn, with seeming intelligence that is hard to imagine,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO and co-founder, NVIDIA. “They will make possible safer driving, more secure cities and great conveniences for all of us.

“To achieve this dream, enormous advances in visual and parallel computing are required. The Tegra X1 mobile super chip, with its one teraflops of processing power, is a giant step into this revolution.”

Driven by the exceptional graphics compute horsepower from Maxwell, NVIDIA’s 10th-generation GPU architecture, Tegra X1 is the first mobile processor with capabilities that rival supercomputers and game consoles.

Faster Than Previous Top Supercomputer Indeed, Tegra X1 has more horsepower than the fastest supercomputer of 15 years ago, ASCI Red, which was the world’s first teraflops system. Operated for a decade by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratory, ASCI Red occupied 1,600 square feet and consumed 500,000 watts of power — with another 500,000 watts needed to cool the room it occupied. By comparison, Tegra X1 is the size of a thumbnail and draws under 10 watts of power.

As serious gamers know from using the NVIDIA(R) GeForce(R) GTX 980 GPU, the Maxwell architecture solves some of the most complex lighting and graphics challenges in visual computing. Its innovations include Voxel Global Illumination, or VXGI, for real-time dynamic global illumination and Multi-Frame Anti-Aliasing, or MFAA, for incredibly lifelike graphics in the most demanding games and apps.

“Tegra K1 set a new bar for GPU compute performance, and now just a year later Tegra X1 delivers twice that,” said Linley Gwennap, founder and principal analyst of the Linley Group. “This impressive technical achievement benefits both 3D graphics, particularly on devices with high-resolution screens, as well as GPGPU software that is becoming more prevalent, particularly in automotive applications.”

Technical Specifications Tegra X1 supports all major graphics standards, including Unreal Engine 4, DirectX 12, OpenGL 4.5, CUDA(R), OpenGL ES 3.1 and the Android Extension Pack, making it easier for developers to bring PC games to mobile.

Tegra X1’s technical specifications include:

--  256-core Maxwell GPU
--  8 CPU cores (4x ARM Cortex A57 + 4x ARM Cortex A53)
--  60 fps 4K video (H.265, H.264, VP9)
--  1.3 gigapixel of camera throughput
--  20nm process

More details are available on the Tegra X1 website.

 

  • ConCal

    Excited to see the secs and benchmarks

    • crutchcorn

      As are we my friend, as are we… I mean me…. *shady look*

  • Marc Perrusquia

    I know I’m nitpicking but the titan z and 980 are their greatest. A better term would be greatest soc.

  • techguysamit

    Nvidia do make some kickass soc but i wonder why the giant tech company dont use them..

    • renz

      for phones? lack of integrated baseband/modem could be the reason. but google themselves interested with nvidia tegra. project tango, Nexus 9 and more recently included in Project Ara.

  • The_Prodigy

    Maybe we’ll get an NVDIA Shield 2!

  • Jesse Afolabi

    Engadget beat you to it this time AA

  • Blowntoaster

    I bet the power consumption on this chip is going to be high. and what about heat? how much heat are those 256gpu cores going to generate during intense processes/gaming. Surely these chips will be used in laptops/chromebooks and tablets, don’t see them working just yet in phones. Too much power that won’t be of much benefit in a mobile phone/phablet…?

    • Kwee

      Too much for a mini tablet. This chip has a TDP 10W(2x Tegra K1). Designed for mini console or a big tablet like Surface Pro.

      • wat

        No it doesn’t. Just because they demoed it on 10 watts does not mean it cannot be clocked down for other applications.

        • Kwee

          I said the same thing with Tegra K1 for smartphone. But clocked down the gpu clock mean less throughput. Nvidia will not do.

        • Kwee

          I read again news about Tegra K1 and they said the TDP is between 5W and 10W. Actually we have 3 tablets with Tegra K1(two 32 bits and one 64 bits), a smartphone console(W3D), a “living room” console(Obox) and projet Ara. A serious hardware site web reveal the gpu GM20B consume around 3,5W at full power which is correct. I think a Shield Tablet 2 or Shield 2 is possible.

      • renz

        when nvidia mention that 10w they doesn’t talk about stuff like tablet specifically. it is more like in general that TX1 will operate for sub 10w. it is also the same for TK1:
        “In future, we will be able to offer HPEC solutions that consume as little as 10 watts, allowing CUDA algorithms to be easily ported across an even broader range of platforms.”

        http://defense.ge-ip.com/news/ge-works-with-nvidia-on-tegra-k1-based-high-performance-embedded-computing-solution/n3093

        • Kwee

          I said the same thing with Tegra K1 for smartphone. But clocked down the gpu clock mean less throughput. Nvidia will not do.

        • Kwee

          I read again news about Tegra K1 and they said the TDP is between 5W and 10W. Actually we have 3 tablets with Tegra K1(two 32 bits and one 64 bits), a smartphone console(W3D), a “living room” console(Obox) and projet Ara. A serious hardware site web reveal the gpu GM20B consume around 3,5W at full power which is correct. I think a Shield Tablet 2 or Shield 2 is possible.

    • The BIG POTATO

      Won’t benefit at the moment .
      50% satisfied.

    • renz

      don’t ever expect tegra in phones anymore. and from what i can see not even nvidia really care about it anymore. but as it is TX1 already over powered. giving today application what TK1 cannot do?

    • Guest123

      The power consumption is on average about 70%-80% less than Apple’s A8X though.
      http://www.hardwarezone.com.sg/files/img/2015/01/nvidia-x1-energy1.jpg

      • Kwee

        At same framerate, at full power the GM20B consume around 3,5W

  • pierre

    lg is making a tablet called the g pad x. nvidia tegra x1. it all makes sense

  • The BIG POTATO

    O yeah baby !!!! Bring it on..
    64vit …bring it on
    Nvidia X1 ….bring it on.
    256 cores …..bring it on.
    1 teraflop ….bringb it on.

    2015 will be awesome

    • James Woods

      almost 1 year later… where’s my ultra 4k 1 tereflop Tegra X1 phone at? They have the k1, but not the X1!

      • TheBigPotato

        lol. U remember

        • James Woods

          lol yeah, Nvidia dropped out. No more Phones from them. They may be dropping tablets as well. Pursuing their dreams in automotive and Tv’s.

          Wonder when (or if) we will get an ad with something like: “The new 20xx BMW powered by Nvidia. Dual Teraflop processors, driving all the safety, navigation, and comfort features”

          And I would LOL till i die if the onboard display has horrible resolution.

  • Clinton

    Such graphics, Should be able to play any graphic intensive games with ease. So, time to play Flappy bird.

  • teomor

    If it beats the sh1t out of supercomputers (and game consoles, LOL) why the h3ll don’t we have this in our PC’s?

    • crutchcorn

      It doesn’t. Marketing

      • teomor

        I know. I was just being sarcastic :)

        • crutchcorn

          You got me! x) Hard to tell sarcasm from the people really like this sometimes. Very relieved that you’re not though. :P

    • Abram Carroll

      PC had consoles beat before they launched. It’s about mobile kicking their butts. Insult + injury.
      PC will always have a large multiple of what Tegra has. Mobility is nice though.
      They ran the UE4 demo on the X1.. Color compression or not, that’s impressive.

  • s2weden2000

    That’s right!

  • rtoz
  • crutchcorn

    YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY! (I like the Tegra series)

  • MrMagoo

    With this type of advancement each year, and if they keep coming up with Tablets with HDMI out and a dedicated controller setup like they have been, If I were on the Sony or XBOX team, I’d be getting nervous.

    Give it one more year and with the right software devs, they could be taking on full console grade games and… and! You’d be able to take it with you! This excites me! :-D

    • Cole Raney

      1. The controls would be terrible on a phone for most titles that come out on consoles.
      2. Battery life would be terrible playing that graphic intensive of games.
      3. There is not enough storage on current phones. I have heard of games having 40 GB or more of storage. Most phones wouldn’t be able to hold a single game that big.
      4. I don’t know about you, but I would rather play console like games on a big TV. Although I generally game on PC now. PC controls are the best.

      • Glacier

        1. He mentioned a controller, many android games already have controller support

        2.The shield tablet gets decent battery while gaming and it’s longer than a gaming laptop battery. At home you’d have it plugged in anyways.

        3. Micro SD

        4. He mentioned gaming on a TV with hdmi.

        5. HE WAS TALKING ABOUT TABLETS

        Ignoring all of his statements I see. Getting nervous about consoles dying are we? :) it’s called natural tech evolution

        ignoring your next reply.

        • Cole Raney

          Apparently I missed a few points but.
          1. Why not use something that comes with a controller for a cheaper price than buying a phone/tablet and a controller?

          2. The shield tablet doesn’t quite have the graphics of a PS4 or Xbox One. This is irrelevant.

          3. Correct me if I am wrong, but hasn’t android stopped support for putting apps on SD cards? You were never able to put the entire app on their.

          Plus most phones and tablets only support up to 128 GB sd cards. Although the LG G Flex 2 can support 2TB

          Plus sd cards of really big sizes just add to the cost. At the end of all this you could have bought a console and several games.

          4.WHAT IS THE POINT OF THAT?! What is appealing about being tethered to a TV with a tablet? If you get the controller, then, what is the difference between that and a console? (The answer to that last one is price).

          5.THAT IS IRRELEVANT!!!

          Even though you are ignoring this (probably because you KNOW you can’t win), someone will read it.

          Everyone was screaming up and done about how the 3DS was dead on arrival. They said handheld consoles could not survive with smartphones. Guess what? The 3DS is a success. That is partially why I am skeptical when people scream about the end of consoles.

          Also, there is no alternative solution (other than PC, which has always been there) for gamers that fits better.

          You want a tablet? $300-$500
          Add a controller? $40-$60
          Want a decent amount of storage? currently no sd cards are easy to find that would fit. When 512 GB or 1 TB sd cards are readily available, then expect to pay top dollar.

          You want a console? $400 for PS4 right now, but it will drop in price eventually probably going down to $300 in a few years. A PS4 has a controller with it, and you can buy a ton of games that are good and do not have in-game purchases.

          NONE of this includes having to wade through the crap on both iOS and android that have dumb in-app purchase schemes.

          If android (and hypothetically iOS too) were to overtake consoles, a number of things have to happen.

          1. Their app stores have to get less shovelware with in-app purchases that make you feel like you have to pay every time you want to do something.

          2. Tablets and phones have to get cheaper.

          3. Either a LOT more storage is needed, or you need to be able to put entire apps on sd cards (meaning no nexus or iOS device could really work as a console replacement in this example).

          But phones and tablets suffer from something that hinders them. They are mobile devices. I am sure you know that to get the same specs in a mobile form, you have to pay out the nose for it. Consoles can use desktop PC processors and gpus since they don’t have to be mobile.

          Desktop hardware is faster at a lower price than mobile hardware. The also don’t need as much processing powers as gaming PCs to produce the same graphics because their OS isn’t as resource heavy as windows.

          One more thing, I do not own a Wii U, PS4, or Xbox One. I do own an android phone and tablet. I do also own a PS3 that I rarely use. I am a PC gamer now, so the death of consoles would probably only mean that I would get games that used to be console exclusives. When I do play on consoles, the gameplay is better than any android game I have played. I have more fun because there are fewer crap games to go through to find a good one.

          If consoles collapsed and smartphones overtook gaming, the good lord we might as well consider it the second gaming industry crash. Nothing on android can duplicate a console experience, or even come close.

          • MrMagoo

            Ok, so it surely seems like you’re looking around in the box you’re stuck in. Just because this is how things are right now, doesn’t mean that’s how things are going to be in 2 years. It doesn’t mean that with future generations of Android, and Nvidia hardware, things could change. We all know that Android runs on Linux and that there are hardcore games written for it. Android is nothing but an operating system waiting to written for. Like I said in my previous post, ” in the next 2 to 3 years”, with the advancement in processing power that is happening in the android world, (especially Nvidia) there could be enough power to write the same games for Android that are being written for PS4 and XBOX1. Putting Nvidia in a prime place to jump into a market that is extremely hard to compete in.

            Nvidia has their Grid which lets you stream higher end games and such. They have their hand and hand relationships with devs that is a huge plus. Just because the games aren’t there yet, doesn’t mean they won’t ever be. Loosen up a little buddy. If you had a Tablet, that had the power and games that XBOX1 and PS4 had, and you could take it with you if you wanted, wouldn’t that be pretty kick ass? When you get home, through your tablet on your wireless charger and hook up your HDMI cable and go to town you your TV!

            Another big plus with this is that Sony and Microsoft only release new consoles every 5-7 yrs. Nvidia and other SoC manufactures have been releasing new more powerful stuff every year. That’s why they should be nervous. If what I’m saying actually happens, they will have to change their ways.

          • Cole Raney

            They have a lot of work to do if they are to put high quality games on android. I don’t know if they could fix it in 2-3 years.

            Even if they do, they won’t replace consoles just like PCs didn’t completely wipe out consoles (although they came first). Or just like how smartphones have yet to replace handheld consoles.

            I would love to be able to play awesome PS4 and Xbox One graphics with great gameplay on a phone or tablet. I mean heck, the games on android are already a hell of a lot better than what was available back when people said the 3DS was going to fail.

          • MrMagoo

            We will see my friend. We will see. If you haven’t yet, you should hop on Youtube and check out some of the gameplay from games that have been written for the Shield. Some don’t have that big of a difference, but some are substantial. Shading, textures, shadows and lighting. With the new system coming, it’s only going to get closer.

          • Abram Carroll

            The PS4 demo’d this and it’s running real time with tegra X1.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0d3rFALqLo

          • MrMagoo

            Oh and you said something about the consoles having desktop PC processors and GPUs. Have you looked at the specs of either system? Not what you think in any way….

          • Cole Raney

            Not high end, no, but nothing you could put in a phone. By the time tablets and phones catch up, the PS4 and Xbox One will be significantly cheaper.

          • Abram Carroll

            They just ran the UE4 PS4 demo on the Tegra X1. The X1 uses 4.5-5 watts and with color compression gets over 1TFLOP FP16. It’s not far behind the consoles and they will be passed by tablets SOON. Nvidia showed they can beat PS3/X360 with a phone now. A 2.5 watt phone. The GPU was only using 1.5 watts capped to 30FPS in the Manhattan benchmark. Apples newest chips GPU in the a8X was pulling 2.6 watts also capped at 30 FPS and Nvidia is still on a 28nm process. Wait until they go 16nm FinFET and have stacked DRAM. Mid cycle consoles will be outclassed by tabs and phones.
            You will be hearing, why are you gaming on that slow PS4? You should get a phone. Phone master race!!

          • Abram Carroll

            1) It’s mobile and controllers are a thing. You can even play touch only games with the shield
            2)They ran the UE4 PS4 demo on it. Had color compression, but it ran. So it can play current console games now. Battery life on my Shield portable is great. I can game for over 6 hours without plugging it in.
            3)Nvidia lets you install to an SD card anyways. Yes on cost being high, as cheap SD’s make games stutter. Samsung pro’s FTW. Not everybody is trailer park poor.
            4)You can use miricast, not need for a wire and again it’s portable.
            5) Streaming. I can play almost all of my PC games on the go and games on Grid servers. The future is here.

          • Cole Raney

            1. That has nothing to do with my first point.
            2. I have addressed this in further comments
            3. Now the poor comment is in poor taste. I don’t care how much money I have, I will go to the cheaper solution if it is as good or better. Also read my later reply.
            4. Still pointless…
            5. Those graphics are done using servers, not the shield if I am correct.

  • jokky

    Correction, the first 1tflops machine was the intel ASCI Red, and consumed 500.000 watts + another 500.000 watts for cooling = 1MWatts not 10MWatts

  • Sin Lee

    ARM just announced the A72 CPU. Tegra X1 used the A57 in the announcement. I wonder if they would go with the A72 instead now. It’s supposedly 50% faster than the A57 on paper.