Event Coverage

CES 2015: NVIDIA Tegra X1 previewed and benchmarked

By Michael Low & Kenny Yeo - 5 Jan 2015

CES 2015: NVIDIA Tegra X1 previewed and benchmarked

The new Tegra X1 is NVIDIA's most powerful mobile chip yet.

Just now at CES 2015, NVIDIA announced its new Tegra X1 SoC. Meant as a successor to the Tegra K1, which was announced at CES last year, the Tegra X1 is dubbed as NVIDIA’s new mobile superchip.

With the Tegra K1 last year, NVIDIA embarked on a radical new direction for its mobile chip when it said that the Tegra K1 shared the same graphics architecture (Kepler) as its desktop computing counterparts. Although its Tegra chips have not enjoyed the same visible commercial success as its GeForce chips, this radical move meant that its Tegra chips offered superior performance to the competition and with very good power characteristics.

The new Tegra X1 follows in this tradition and this new mobile chip is based on NVIDIA’s Maxwell graphic architecture, which debuted in the GeForce GTX 980 from last year (hence the "X" replacing the "K" in the Tegra naming scheme). As we all know now, these new GPUs blew everything out of the water with its class-leading performance and power efficiency. The new GeForce GTX 980M and GTX 970M for notebooks, in particular, were especially impressive, and helped bridged the gap between mobile and desktop graphics processing like no other mobile GPU before.

Is it any surprise that the new Tegra X1 is faster?

The Tegra X1 boasts 256 Maxwell graphics cores (the previous K1 had 192 Kepler graphics cores) and is complemented by an 64-bit ready, 8-core ARM CPU. The Tegra X1 is built off a 20nm manufacturing process and will support 10-bit color 4K video at 60fps with hardware support for VP9 and H.265 video codecs at the hardware level - the older Tegra K1 supports 4K resolution but only at 30fps. The result of all this hardware is that the Tegra X1 offers between 50% to 100% more performance and is more power efficient than its predecessor and also the highly acclaimed A8X in Apple’s iPad Air 2. Take 3DMark for example, on Ice Storm Unlimited, the Tegra X1 can achieve a score of 43,241, which is about double that of the A8X's 21,655. NVIDIA also stated that it's double the performance of their Shield Tablet that runs on last year's Tegra K1 SoC.

To prove the point, NVIDIA conducted a hands-on session but for specially invited media and showed us just how fast and capable its new mobile chip is. At the moment, it looks really promising. In addition to results, we've captured a short video clip to show how smooth the gameplay and benchmarks ran:-

The Tegra X1 managed a score of 43,241 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited. In comparison, when we tested the A8X-powered iPad Air 2, it scored 21,665.

On a new game called Tainted Keep, the Tegra X1 managed 55.6fps on its Ultra settings benchmark. For a mobile game, Tainted Keep looks mighty impressive.

Here are the Tegra X1 results on GFXBench, a popular Android graphics benchmark utility.

It's not just performance too, the Tegra X1 is also more power efficient than its competitors. Here, we can see that the Tegra X1 had an average power consumption of 1.498W, whereas the Apple A8X averaged 2.651W.

The Tegra X1 development reference board that was used in the tests.

NVIDIA has yet to announce what products will be sporting its new Tegra X1 chip, but we fully expect to see it feature strongly in automotive applications. NVIDIA’s CEO Jen-Hsun Huang himself said last year following the announcement of the Tegra K1 that he wanted to power “smart cars of the future.” However, we were told that the Tegra X1 could also be applied in smartphones, tablets and even Chromebooks, should OEM makers choose to do so. For now though, all you need to know is that the Tegra X1 is one heck of a mobile chip.