Nvidia aims to challenge Qualcomm/Intel with Tegra K1 processors

|By:, SA News Editor

Nvidia (NVDA +1.6%) has unveiled its Tegra K1 mobile app processors. The K1 chips, formerly codenamed Logan and Parker, are the first Tegra offerings to feature a GPU based on Nvidia's Kepler PC GPU architecture, and manage to pack 192 GPU cores (the prior-gen Tegra 4 has 72). (PR)

The K1, believed to leverage TSMC's cutting-edge 20nm manufacturing process, is also the first Tegra solution to support Nvidia's CUDA developer platform (optimizes apps for Nvidia GPUs). CES attendees have been impressed by demos showing K1-powered tablets delivering desktop-caliber graphics.

Two versions are offered: a quad-core chip featuring off-the-shelf ARM (ARMH -0.1%) CPU cores, and (more interestingly) a solution featuring two powerful custom 64-bit ARM cores (codenamed Denver). Apple and Qualcomm have already unveiled 64-bit ARM processors, which carry higher royalty rates than 32-bit chips.

Devices featuring the 32-bit and 64-bit chips are respectively set to arrive in 1H14 and 2H14. Nvidia is counting on the K1 to help Tegra sales (-54% Y/Y in FQ3) to rebound following a rough 2013. They'll face tough competition from Qualcomm (QCOM +0.3%) - its baseband/app processor integration remains a big selling point for many OEMs - and from a newly mobile-focused Intel (INTC). In addition, indirect competition is provided by Apple and Samsung's in-house processors.

Nvidia's mobile struggles have led the company to begin offering to license Kepler and other IP to third-party chipmakers.

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