Nvidia's Kal-El spawns fifth core

Nvidia’s upcoming Kal-El mobile processor has spawned an extra core, putting the wind up Qualcomm with low power consumption, it claims.

The new Tegra processor, dubbed Kal-El, has been announced as a quad-core chip.  However it has emerged that another core will lurk within the chip. The water-carrier fifth core will focus on more simple tasks such as web reading or music playback and is turned on when the main cores are not needed.

When more processor intensive tasks are demanded and the chip needs to move up a gear, the companion core takes a break and the main four cores light up one at a time.

Nvidia says that the fifth core will operate at a lower frequency and will demand less power than a dual core chip, according to the Nvidia blog. And as is mentioned in an interview with Mike Rayfield, head of Nvidia’s mobile business, this is a direct improvement over Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, according to MartketWatch.

If this is correct then Nvidia could be well placed to carve out a bigger space in the mobile market with its patented fifth core design.

Ernest Doku, mobile analyst at uSwitch, reckons that Nvidia can now push ahead of its rivals following a rather conservative move into the mobile space

“Nvidia has made tentative steps into the market in the past,” he told us. “Tegra was slightly under the radar, and Nvidia was needing to convince manufacturers that it could offer necessary power and efficiency.”

“Though the Tegra chip turned some heads, there are a lot of companies trying to get into the mobile market, and Nvidia can try and differentiate itself with the Kal-El chip.”

“Now they can try to steal some market share from the likes of Qualcomm, following the popularity of the Snapdragon chip which was making the headlines before.”

Doku reckons that battery power is increasingly important in swaying consumers towards various devices: “Research uSwitch has done research which shows that power is massively important, and is considered more important by consumers than having a high megapixel camera now.”

As well a five core chip, Nvidia is also said to have a 12-core chip on the way that will deliver around three times the graphics performance of the Tegra 2.