Nvidia’s next successor in the Tegra family is called Tegra K1 and it’s important for the sold reason that it’s the first ever ARM-based product Nvidia’s ever produced that includes graphics hardware that is identical to what they currently have on the desktop market. K1 stands for “Kepler One” and that’s because it includes exactly one Kepler shader unit, comprising of 192 CUDA cores, 4 ROPs, 8 texture units, a 64-bit memory bus and full support for OpenGL, DirectX 11, CUDA 6 any any other API you can think of that runs on regular kepler hardware. The first tablet running Tegra K1 hardware will be the Chinese-designed-and-built Xiaomi MiPad, the company’s first-ever tablet.
The MiPad is another in a long line of Chinese tablets poking fun at Apple and the design is also very similar to the new iPad Minu as well. For those of you who don’t know, there was a court case a few years back where Apple took Chinese manufacturer GooPhone to court over the latter company’s decision to not only make a like-for-like clone of the iPhone 5 exterior, but to patent it as well.
The MiPad’s specifications are quite tempting on paper. The front is dominated by a 7.9-inch glass-covered IPS display with a native resolution of 2048 x 1536 (a proper 4:3 aspect ratio). The plastic shell is apparently made using the same injection moulding technology as the colourful iPhone 5c and there’s a overly large 6700mAh battery in there for good measure.
There’s a Sony-made 8 megapixel F2.0 aperture shooter on the back without any LED flash and a front-facing 5 megapixel camera for Skyping or high-resolution selfies. At the MiPad’s heart is the Tegra K1 SoC (system-on-chip) with 2GB of DDR3 memory and Android 4.4.2 Jelly Bean. Although it’s only going to be available in China with a June 2014 launch, it’s a good sign for Nvidia that Tegra is going to see more market adoption. Despite Nvidia’s best efforts, neither Tegra 3 or 4 had a lot of brands including it in their devices and that’s probably more to do with the fact that it lacked a 3G/LTE modem more than anything.
After all, the Tegra 4 chips inside the Nvidia Shield recently had some excellent games ported over to it, such as Portal and Half-Life 2. There’s also a lot of opportunity here, if Nvidia exposes it to all Tegra devices and not just the Shield, to use the Geforce GRID network to stream games normally played on your PC to your Tegra-packing device. Currently, it’s possible to use the Shield handheld as a portable streaming console inside your home as well as from remote locations with good internet access.
Nvidia’s hardware also opens up more options for using business-orientated applications on the go that support CUDA acceleration. Applications like Photoshop for Mobile would be an ideal fit and if tablets with Tegra hardware ship with active digitisers that are sensitive enough for drawing, that might push people to buy something similar to the MiPad instead of a regular graphics tablet. There are a lot of people in the graphic design industry who bought Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet for this exact reason.
Are you interested in buying a tablet that has modern graphics hardware inside it for gaming as well as productivity uses? Would the fact that it’s using Tegra hardware and not anything from Qualcomm, Samsung, Apple or even AMD weigh in to your decision? Let us know in the comments below!