Nvidia's kicking off this year's CES madness with the Tegra K1, the first Nvidia chip with freaking 192 CUDA cores. Does that sound like a desktop thing, not mobile? It sort of is. According to Nvidia this bridges the gap between Kepler-based desktop cards and the mobile-based Tegra chips. Not just Tegra 5 but like Tegra 5000. Yeah. It's a mobile chip with a desktop heart.
And if that sounds real optimistic, it is. But Nvidia has also announced that Epic Games is bringing Unreal Engine 4, one of the biggest next-gen gaming engines out there, to the K1. That's big. And it means that the people who build games—beautiful, great games—are getting behind the K1 in a big way.
Here's a taste. This is a face being rendered on the K1. We've seen this face before, but not on an ostensibly mobile chip:
And some splosions:
And the benefits here aren't just photorealism. The K1 also brings huge gains to things like physics simulation, particle effects, lighting systems, and comes part and parcel with support for DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.4. From stylized cartoon graphics to accurate representations of office buildings, the K1 is pushing out graphics that could easily pass for current-gen console or Gaming PC. It blows (last gen) consoles out of the water.
Lastly the Tegra K1 doesn't just come in a 32-bit quad-core (4-Plus-1 ARM Cortex-A15 CPU) configuration. It's also going to be the first proving ground for Nvidia's long awaited Denver CPUs, and will coming in a flavor that supports two of the 64-bit bad boys.
Now that's all well and good, and so far the Tegra K1 looks incredible, a 192-core monster that could stand to permanently shake up what counts for good graphics on mobile devices and tears down the long-standing wall between games that look like "real" games, and everything else. Gears of War 4 on the Shield 2? A tablet?! Sure.
But all that potential doesn't mean squat until the Tegra K1 makes it out into the wild, and so far there's zero hints about when this sucker is going to hit. And who knows how much Tegra K1 devices are going to cost. It's hard to think anything other than "a lot." Still, with Epic Games and Unreal Engine 4 on board though, it's hard to see how this could belly flop. Brace yourselves; this is gonna make waves.