Nvidia’s newest SoC backs some impressive specs, but its unwieldy power draw will keep it from being a Qualcomm killer.
Nvidia launched its newest SoC, the Tegra K1, at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The announcing keynote is remembered best for Jen Hsun Huang’s bold claims that the chip could rival the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 in terms of performance. These performance claims have now been put to the test with the chip’s first benchmarks appearing online via MyDrivers.
The benchmarks that appeared online were for the 64-bit dual-core version. When the chip launches it will come in two versions, the already benchmarked 64-bit dual-core version and a quad-core 32-bit version.
As you can see this chip certainly packs a punch. If these benchmarks are to be believed, the 64-bit K1 has a mighty performance margin over the Snapdragon 805 and 801.
But here’s the problem: what is the power cost of the Tegra K1’s benchmark-beating performance? After all, the first benchmarks of the SoC compared its performance to consoles that were rated for 100w of power.
Over at Semi Accurate Charlie Demerjian, who has a notorious anti-Nvidia bent, estimates that the realistic power draw for K1 is something in the 35-40 W range. He got a peek at the power supply for a K1 demo at CES and did some math to figure out the SoC’s realistic power draw for heavy payloads.
“The power supply for this K1 demo is a 60W feed. If that number makes your jaw drop, you do get the right picture, this system has a massive draw…Based on this and other information, SemiAccurate estimates a 35-40W draw for the entire system.”
There isn’t a smartphone or tablet battery on the planet that could provide the K1 with the required power, unless Nvidia substantially underclocks the silicon heading to OEMs. But if Nvidia will be delivering underclocked silicon so it can meet realistic power profiles of devices, it would be questionable as to why a manufacturer would pick it over a tried-and-true Qualcomm chip.