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After Nvidia’s Tegra K1 Comes Erista, a Maxwell-Based SoC for Android

March 26, 2014 - Written By Nick Sutrich

Nvidia’s products lines, like many other chip manufacturers, have become increasingly complex over the years.  Thus is the way of computing anyway, but the level at which complexity grows never ceases to be staggering. Nvidia just announced their 2014 flagship chipset at CES 2014, the Tegra K1 (Logan), and the performance of the chip is mind boggling to say the least.  We’ve seen in benchmarks that it actually holds its own against laptop chips and other mobile SoC’s (systems-on-a-chip) like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 and Apple’s A7.  It seems like Nvidia isn’t content to just announce this year’s chipsets though, they’re letting us know that next year’s chipset is already being designed (duh) and have even given us the product code name: Erista.  What can we learn from the code name and what Nvidia’s provided us thus far?  First let’s look at the Tegra K1 and what it’s based off of: the Kepler architecture that’s found in recent Nvidia cards starting from the 2012 GeForce 600 series all the way up to the Titan-Z which was announced just yesterday.  This architecture has been incredibly scalable for Nvidia and delivers some absolutely mind blowing performance no matter what form it comes in.

Erista is based on Nvidia’s next GPU architecture, Maxwell, and is set to debut in 2015.  Maxwell brings a new unified memory architecture that’s supposed to optimize the speed at which the chip itself can transfer data between components, promising a new level of performance from the memory found inside the chip.  Nvidia’s chip after Maxwell, Pascal, will feature stacked DRAM in addition to unified memory and a new NV Link port, but we’ll cross that bridge when 2016 gets here.  Right now we’ve only seen the Maxwell architecture in mid-range PC graphics cards from Nvidia, but it’s making its way to the higher end very soon in the form of the GeForce 800 series, as well as the new Erista mobile chip.  We’ve not seen performance figures from this chipset yet, primarily because it’s just not ready for that sort of testing, but expect the official unveiling of this chipset and all that it can do either later this year or the beginning of 2015 at next year’s CES.  If you happen to have noticed the super hero names going on here you aren’t going crazy, that’s on purpose.  Thus far the Tegra family has featured the names of Kal-El, Wayne, Grey, Logan and now Erista.  Bonus points if you can figure out all the heroes listed there.