Video Decode

One of the stones we've thrown at NVIDIA is the lack of high profile H.264 decode support. Tegra 2 can decode main profile H.264 at up to 20Mbps, but throw any high profile 1080p content at the chip and it can't do it. This is a problem because a lot of video content out there today is high profile, high bitrate 1080p H.264. Today, even on Tegra 2, you'll have to transcode a lot of your 1080p video content to get it to play on the phone.

With Kal-El, that could change.

NVIDIA's video decoder gets an upgrade in Kal-El to support H.264 at 40Mbps sustained (60Mbps peak) at a resolution of 2560 x 1440. This meets the bandwidth requirements for full Blu-ray disc playback. NVIDIA didn't just make the claim however, it showed us a 50Mbps 1440p H.264 stream decoded and output to two screens simultaneously: a 2560 x 1600 30" desktop PC monitor and a 1366 x 768 tablet display.

Did I mention that this is 12-day-old A0 silicon?

Kal-El also supports stereoscopic 3D video playback, although it's unclear to me what the SoC's capabilities are for 3D capture.

I asked NVIDIA if other parts of the SoC have changed, particularly the ISP as we've seen in both the Optimus 2X and Atrix 4G articles that camera quality is pretty poor on the initial Tegra 2 phones. NVIDIA stated that both ISP performance and quality will go up in Kal-El although we don't know any more than that. NVIDIA did insist that its own development Tegra 2 platforms have good still capture quality, so what we've seen from LG and Motorola may just be limited to those implementations.


The Architecture Final Words
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  • jjj - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    does this " The architecture will first ship in a quad-core, 40nm version" mean Kal-El will get a 28 nm version too?
  • softdrinkviking - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - link

    I think the assumption is that a future iteration of the architecture introduced with Kal-El will be a die shrink. (probably the 2x one that will be implemented in 2012)
    At least that is what I am assuming until Nvidia proves me wrong.
  • michael2k - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    Even if they can't sustain it, I love that they're trying. Is this the powerhouse behind the NGP?
  • nafhan - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - link

    No, the NGP sounds like it'll be using an SGX GPU. So, that means it'll probably use Samsung or TI.
  • Lucian Armasu - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - link

    The only other company that has announced a quad core chip for this year is Freescale. I believe they have a 1 Ghz quad core Cortex A9 chip.
  • dleonseng - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    first paragraph:

    "...NVIDIA may not have the entire market but it has enough of it to be take{N} seriously."
  • NCM - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - link

    Re "...are simply due to learnings it had in the design of Tegra 2s..." (second page)

    "Learning" means the process of acquiring knowledge, not the things one has learned; it doesn't have a plural form.

    Instead try: "...are simply due to things it learned in the design of Tegra 2..."
  • DarkUltra - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    Who cares about four cores? I want Android UI running on the GPU. Most people who see an Android phone will immediately do two things: swipe through home screens and scroll through the app list. If they see lag and choppiness they inevitably compare to the iPhone and assume that the phone as a whole is not as fast and responsive; end-of-story for them.

    The restrictions of the iphone and Apples iTunes lock-in barely makes it worth it.
  • A5 - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    Honeycomb supposedly helps with that and presumably Tegra 3 will be running that or Ice Cream.
  • dcollins - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - link

    Isn't Android 2.3 GPU accelerated?

    Also, part of the problem is the carriers software doesn't have great performance. My Droid 2 is running Liberty 1.5 and the home screens, app drawer, and contacts all scroll smoothly. Not so with the stock ROM, which stuttered a lot and got slower over time. I suggest anyone with a Droid 2 or Droid X check out Liberty.

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