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Does Nvidia’s Quad Core Kal-El Processor Have A Fifth Core

Our good friend and hockey buff Ina Fried over at AllthingsD reported a doozey of a story today for those anxiously awaiting the arrival of tablets and Android phones featuring Nvidia’s new quad core “Kal-El” processor.

According to Nvidia’s own reports Fried has reported that the quad core processor actually has a fifth core.  Nvidia says that fifth core runs at a lower frequency than the other 4 cores and is used primarily for background tasks.

Nvidia’s whitepaper, poster to their website here, reveals that their is a fifth “companion core” that is used for active standby mode. The paper also lists that the fifth core assists in music and video playback.  All five of the cores are the exact same ARM Cortex A9 CPUs. Each core can be individually turned on and off determined by the work load.

More after the break

Nvidia’s whitepaper says:

“The “Companion” core is OS transparent, unlike current  Asynchronous SMP architectures, meaning the OS and applications are not aware of this core, but automatically take advantage of it. This strategy saves significant software efforts and new
coding requirements.”

The companion core is able to run email, social networking, music playback, video playback and other low power tasks. According to Nvidia, while the four main cores will max out to the ghz capable of the processor, the companion core runs at 500mhz or less. This allows the four main cores to handle more processor intensive functions like gaming and augmented reality without having to fall back for the background processes.

Nvidia’s CEO said earlier this month that we can expect Android tablets with the Nvidia quad core processor before the end of the year however we won’t see Android phones with the processor until early next year.

Source: Nvidia via Allthingsd
Graphic: Nvidia WhitePaper


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