Graphics specialist Nvidia revealed that the firm’s upcoming quad core Kal-El mobile Tegra processor actually contains a fifth processor core.
"During less power-hungry tasks like web reading, music playback and video playback, Kal-El completely powers down its four performance-tuned cores and instead uses its fifth companion core," blogged Nvidia’s Matt Wuebbling on the Nvidia blog.
"For higher performance tasks, Kal-El disables its companion core and turns on its four performance cores, one at a time, as the work load increases."
Nvidia published a pair of whitepaper presentations on the upcoming mobile superchip which claims considerably less power at the same levels of performance as other mobile chip vendors such as TI and Qualcomm.
In the white paper entitled "Variable SMP – A Multi-Core CPU Architecture for Low Power and High Performance" (pdf), Nvidia chose to illustrate the claimed performance gains by quoting power consumption and benchmark performance of the unreleased Kal-El measured against year-old dual-core processors from rival chipmakers.
Unsurprisingly Kal-El came out top, slurping just 1.2W to deliver nearly 12,000 Coremarks versus 1.5W of TI’s OMAP4 and the Qualcomm MSM8660 managing just 5,600 Coremarks. Nvidia also claimed Kal-El was capable of matching the performance of the dual-core competition using around a third of the power or just half a watt.
The second paper, "The Benefits of Quad Core CPUs in Mobile Devices" (pdf), said that four processors would: "enable mobile devices to further push the performance envelope, and allow application and game developers to deliver new mobile experiences, all while extending battery life for the most popular use cases."