Nvidia Kal-El promises quad-core mobile graphics

Nvidia’s Tegra graphics processor might be the current top-dog for graphics in the universe of Android devices, but Nvidia has already outlined its plans to dominate the mobile graphics arena for years to come. Last February, the company announced its forthcoming Kal-El quad-core mobile graphics chip, and now the company has provided an update on its progress, releasing a demo video of Kal-El’s real-time lighting and physics capabilities on a HoneyComb Android tablet—and all the lighting and physics are calculated in real time, rather than merely playing back canned video animations. The video is called “GlowBall,” and features a glowing ball lighting up and moving through a 3D “creepy funhouse” environment.

Nvidia Kal-El demo (GlowBall)

“This shows off the power of true dynamic lighting, rendered in real-time with physics (no canned animations here, folks),” Nvidia’s Matt Wuebbling wrote in the company blog. ” This marks the first time this type of lighting is feasible on a mobile device.”

Nvidia claims Kal-El boats five times the graphics performance of the Tegra 2 processors currently powering graphics in devices like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Motorola Xoom. Unlike the Tegra 2, however, Kal-El boasts a quad-core processor powering the Android device, supplemented by a 12-core graphics processor. Nvidia’s video shows that the GlowBall demo is leveraging all that computing power for its real-time effects: shutting down two of the device’s main processor cores has a dramatic impact on Glowball’s overall performance.

Graphics developers like Nvidia face a conundrum with mobile graphics capabilities; on one hand, they have technology from their PC businesses to put major computing and graphic processing capabilities into a wide range of devices; on the other hand, the power and heat-dissipation requirements for mobile devices impose some severe constraints: nobody is going to want to use a tablet device with fabulous graphics that’s too hot to hold and burns through is battery in half an hour. For now, graphics developers are focussing on spreading graphics duties across a number of lower-power processing cores, hoping to get more work done in each clock cycle while retaining lower power requirements.

Nvidia hasn’t announced when Kal-El chips will be available for device manufacturers—emphasizing the demo was produced using a pre-production device—although industry reports have Kal-El devices hitting the market in time for the end-of-year holiday buying season. Nvidia also promises production versions of Kal-El will be significantly faster than the current demo.

Kal-El is, of course, the Kryptonian name for Superman. Following on the superhero theme for its mobile processors, Nvidia has outlined mobile processors codenamed Wayne, Logan, and Stark for 2012, 2013, and 2014, respectively.

Wearables

Focals succeed where Google Glass fumbled (but do we really need smartglasses?)

It’s been seven years since Google took the wraps off Google Glass. Now, we’re finally getting a modern-day equivalent we want to wear. North’s Focals combine subtle style with an intuitive interface to craft smartglasses you’ll…
Movies & TV

Here’s how to watch the 2019 Oscars livestream online

The 91st Academy Awards will air live on ABC, but there are also a number of ways to watch Hollywood's biggest night online using your mobile device, desktop, or set-top streamer. Here's how to catch the Oscars livestream.
Virtual Reality

Getting into VR is spendy. Which headset is truly worth your hard-earned cash?

Virtual reality has finally gone mainstream, but how do you find the best VR headset for you? Check out a few of our favorites, whether you want the best of the best or a budget alternative for your mobile device.
Mobile

T-Mobile says Sprint merger will boost 5G speeds by up to 6 times

2019 will be a huge year for T-Mobile. Not only is a merger with Sprint likely, but T-Mobile is also in the midst of building out its next-generation mobile service. Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile 5G rollout.
Computing

If Core i5 CPUs are great for most people, do you really need a Core i7?

This guide is designed to help you decide whether you need the extra technological enhancements provided by the i7 core, or if the more affordable Core i5 will suit your needs. In the i5 vs. i7 battle, which is best for you?
Mobile

Bag yourself a bargain with the best budget tablets under $200

The battle for your budget tablet affections is really ramping up. Which tablet, costing less than $200, should be commanding your attention? We take a look at some different options for the budget-conscious.
Mobile

OnePlus 6T vs. Honor View 20: We compare the cameras in these ‘flagship killers’

For less than $600, you can buy either the OnePlus 6T or the Honor View 20, two extremely capable smartphones with plenty of exciting features. But which one has the best camera? We found out on a recent trip to France.
Home Theater

Hi-res streaming audio service Qobuz arrives in U.S., threatens Tidal’s monopoly

For several years, Tidal enjoyed a monopoly on hi-res music streaming in the U.S. Now, French company Qobuz is here to offer some competition with a variety of monthly plans starting at $10 a month.
Mobile

The best Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus cases to keep your titanic phone safe

The new Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is a gorgeous device, with one of the best dual-lens cameras we've ever seen. Keep your titanic device safe and scratch-free with the best Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus cases.
Mobile

How to perform a reverse image search in Android or iOS

You can quickly use Google to search, and reverse search, images on a PC or laptop, but did you know it's almost as easy to do in Android and iOS? We explain how to do it here, whether you want to use Chrome or a third-party app.
Mobile

The best Honor View 20 cases to keep your midrange beauty intact

With power to rival flagships, great looks, and a stunning camera, the Honor View 20 is an excellent phone -- but it still needs protection from hazards. Here are some of the best Honor View 20 cases.
Mobile

Samsung's Unpacked draws near. Here's what we know about the Galaxy S10 so far

It won't be long now. With 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.
Mobile

Gorilla Glass 6 will cover the Xiaomi Mi 9's AMOLED screen

Xiaomi's next major smartphone release will be the Mi 9, and the company hasn't held back in giving us a good look at the phone, revealing the design, the camera, and a stunning color.
Mobile

It looks like Google may get rid of the back button in Android Q

Android Pie recently rolled out, but it's already time to look ahead to Android Q, the next version of Google's mobile OS. We've seen a number of rumors and leaks come out about the operating system -- here's everything we know so far.