Nvidia Tegra

Battery life of 25 days of music and 10 hours of 1080p video playback. This is what Nvidia Tegra is built for. Tegra called ‘System on a chip’ i.e ‘computer on a chip’ processor is from the graphics giant Nvidia.

Ilustration of Nvidia Tegra

Ilustration of Nvidia Tegra

It has a CPU i.e ARM 11 processor, GPU, northbridge, southbridge and memory controller all integrated onto a single package with size smaller than a coin. The graphics processor supports Open GL 2.0 and 3D acceleration. It also support 3G, WiFi and WiMax for the ‘always-on’ computing experience. Nvidia is also targetting a subwatt(<1W) power usage for the chip.

Internal architecture of a Nvidia Tegra chip

Internal architecture of a Nvidia Tegra chip

Nvidia is will release two class of Tegra devices, Tegra 600 Series and Tegra APX series.

  • The key features of Tegra 600 series are:Up to 1080p HD video playback
  • Ultra-low-power GeForce GPU for intuitive and smooth 3D user interfaces
  • Integrated media processor for over 100 hours audio and 10 hours HD video playback
  • Image processor with advanced DSC and HD camcorder processing
  • Connectivity to support Web 2.0 and social media applications
  • Display support for up to 1080p HDMI, WSXGA+ LCD, SXGA CRT, and NTSC/PAL TV-Out

The key features of Tegra APX series are:

  • 720p HD video capture and playback
  • Lowest power for demanding applications like 720p HD video
  • 3D user interface
  • HD video playback
  • Ability to access visually intensive applications like mapping and gaming

Nvidia is working with Google and Open Handset Alliance to use Android OS on Nvidia Tegra. Microsoft has announced Zune HD that will run on Nvidia Tegra for better video quality and battery life. Samsung annonced that is working on a Tegra based phone. Nvidia is expecting use of Tegra processor in Mobile Internet Devices(MID) and Netbooks.

For more specifications on Nvidia Tegra visit Wikipedia.

The main thing I’m thinking about is will be perfect for an Home Theatre PC (HTPC) setup? Will it be able to replace the Nvidia Ion Platform?

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Intel Atom Processor

Intel has developed a new processor ‘Atom’, with very low power requirements in the sub 3 watt range, and also while supporting a highest frequency of up to 1.86GHz. Manufactured using the new hafnium-infused 45nm high-k silicon technology, Intel Atom processors pack an astounding 47 million transistors on a single chip measuring less than 25mm², making them Intel’s smallest and lowest power processors. This processor has been mainly focussed towards latest Mobile Internet Devices.

Some features of the Atom Processor are:

  • Single-core processor for mobile devices offering enhanced performance
  • On die, primary 32-kB instructions cache and 24-kB write-back data cache
  • Hyper-Threading Technology 2-threads
  • On die 512-kB, 8-way L2 cache
  • Intel® Virtualization Technology (Intel® VT)
  • Thermal management support
  • Intel® Deep Power-Down Technology
  • L2 Dynamic Cache Sizing
  • Advanced power management features including Enhanced Intel SpeedStep® Technology

The technologies used by Intel for Atom Processor are:

High Performance Technology

  • Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology: Provides performance & support for multi threaded applications enabling increased performance and system responsiveness in multitasking environments by enabling the processor to execute two instruction threads in parallel.
  • Intel® Virtualization Technology: It is a set of hardware enhancements on the Intel® Atom processor series providing the flexibility to run dual operating systems and applications in independent partitions.
  • Intel® Digital Media Boost: Enhanced Performance on Floating Point intensive applications such as CAD tools, 3D & 2D modeling, Video Editing, Digital Music, Digital Photography & Gaming
  • Intel® Smart Cache: Smarter, more efficient cache & bus design thus offering even more efficient data sharing, providing enhanced performance, responsiveness and power savings.
  • Power Optimized Front Side Bus: 533MHz FSB provides increased data bandwidth as compared to prior generations (400MHz) for faster data transfer.
  • Enhanced Data Prefetcher: Efficient speculation and loading into L2 cache of data likely to be requested by processor.

Low Power Capabilities

  • Enhanced Intel® SpeedStep® Technology: Allows for better match of performance to application demand.
  • Deep Power Down Technology with Dynamic Cache Sizing: Dynamic Cache Sizing saves power by turning off Cache ways that have had data saved in memory. This power saving feature enables 80-100mW idle power and 160-220mW average power for the processor.
  • Low Thermal Design Power: Lower thermal design power enables thinner, lighter MID devices as it reduces the cooling requirements.
  • Mobile Voltage Positioning: Dynamically lowers voltage based on processor activity to lower thermal design power.
  • Enhanced Deeper Sleep: Saves power by flushing cache data to system memory during periods of inactivity to lower CPU

Ultra Small Form Factor CPU Package


The new lead free, halogen free Micro-Flip Chip package (13x14mm) is 85% smaller than a notebook processor (35x35mm)

The Power requirement for the Atom Processor are
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Power Requirement
(W)
Lower Frequency Higher Frequency
0.65 W 600MHz 0.8GHz
2 W 600MHz 1.1GHz
2 W 800MHz 1.33GHz
2 W 800MHz 1.6GHz
2.4 W 800MHz 1.86GHz