"It's a breakthrough that promises to bring the kinds of applications originally built for designers, games and supercomputers to a broad range of devices, erasing the lines between desktop and mobile devices," Brian Caufield, editor of Nvidia's corporate blog, wrote in a post on the company's blog site.
Nvidia officials say the new chip offers three times the performance of Apple's A7, and will come in two versions—a 32-bit quad-core chip based on the ARM Cortex-A15 CPU architecture and a 64-bit dual-core chip that uses a custom Nvidia-designed CPU code-named Denver. The 32-bit version will start appearing in devices in the first half of 2014, while the 64-bit version will come in the second half.
However, even as the company touts the chip's capabilities in mobile devices, they also are looking to extend its reach into the automotive arena, particularly in self-driving cars. The Tegra K1 will be able to run such applications as camera-based advanced-driver-assistance systems (ADAS)—including such operations as detecting pedestrians, monitoring blind spots and recognizing street signs—and dashboard-mounted cameras that can monitor driver alertness.
"To process the steady deluge of sensor and camera data required by a self-driving car, Nvidia is bringing highly energy-efficient supercomputer technology inside the vehicle," Taner Ozcelik, vice president and general manager of Nvidia's automotive business, said in a statement. "Tegra K1 solves this by providing 10 times the computing power of previous mobile processors without consuming additional energy."
The chip, in its automotive-grade form, can withstand a range of temperatures and harsh conditions, the company said. Nvidia sees opportunities in the automotive market. Already there are more than 4.5 million cars—including from such manufacturers as Audi, BMW, Tesla and Volkswagen—that include Nvidia processors, officials said.
The Tegra K1 chip will be fully programmable and able to be updated over the air. It will be available to OEMs and top-tier suppliers as a visual computing module, which is a full computer system for cars that can run a range of operating systems, including Windows, Linux, Android and QNX.