The year is almost over, but there is apparently plenty of time left for Nvidia to release its first quad-core mobile chips, based on ARM technology. President and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said that, in order to get a leg up on its main competitor Qualcomm, the graphics company will release a quad-core mobile System-on-a-Chip, or SoC, before the end of the calendar year.
Code-named Kal-El, the successor to the prolific Tegra 2 chip, which powers over 70% of Android tablets and 50% of high-end smartphones, will not only be significantly faster, but also bring many of the ARM instruction sets such a NEON that are currently missing from the dual-core Tegra 2.
Huang said that by 2015 the mobile division at Nvidia will be worth more than its dedicated GPU divison, currently worth $4.5 billion. Their goal is to ship 1 billion mobile processors by then, too, an ambitious goal considering as of 2011 they have only produced around 100 million chips.
Earlier this year the GPU giant acquired mobile baseband company Icera, whose technology will be integrated into future Nvidia chips starting next year. The inclusion will allow for them to rely less on separate component manufacturers when developing mobile processors, ultimately lowering costs and increasing profits. This will be necessary to reach their goal of a $20 billion mobile chip business by 2015.
As for the quad-core chips, it’s unlikely we’ll see any of them in smartphones by the end of this year; initial yields will be low, with heat and power consumption being the major hurdle to overcome in the production process.