I've warned both Qualcomm and TI that the danger they have to face in the SoC space going forward isn't just NVIDIA engineering, but NVIDIA marketing. Although too aggressive for my tastes at times, NVIDIA does know how to take a simple product release and turn it into an extremely polished technology launch. Even down to the materials NVIDIA shares with the press, to-date none of its competitors have built such pretty slides that make their way all over the web.

Obviously it's not just marketing with NVIDIA. After a rough start the Tegra 2 finally got real traction and has been the premier Android smartphone and tablet SoC since the beginning of the year. If you're buying an Android smartphone or tablet today, chances are the best option uses Tegra 2.

At MWC earlier this year NVIDIA announced its third applications processor, codenamed Kal-El. Kal-El will feature four ARM Cortex A9 cores with a shared 1MB L2 cache and MPE/NEON support (absent from Tegra 2). Kal-El will also fix the video decoder issue we've run into on Tegra 2 and should be able to play all high profile H.264 content with proper OS support. On top of all of that there's a faster GPU (12-core vs. 8-core plus higher throughput per core).

What does all of this have to do with NVIDIA's marketing? Today NVIDIA posted one of its famous tech demos running on a Kal-El reference platform to show off what's possible with the new SoC:

The video shows the output from a Honeycomb Kal-El development platform. In it you see techniques such as dynamic lighting and real-time physics. The latter uses all four of Kal-El's A9 cores, which you can see in action in the lower left of the video.

The Glowball demo is the perfect example of NVIDIA knowing how to execute on both the product and marketing sides when it comes to any major launch. Kal-El is still months away, but this is a great way to build excitement.

As always it's a pretty impressive tech demo but it's just that, a demo. As we've seen in the past, NVIDIA's tech demos are usually far more impressive than the actual titles we see released in the near term. After all, it's always easier to make a single scene look great vs. an entire game (not to mention that performance requirements go up as you add more dynamic characters in a given scene). But as a demo of what will be possible on a tablet by the end of the year, I can't complain.

NVIDIA said that Kal-El based devices are on track for release this holiday season. The original commitment was August 2011 but NVIDIA wouldn't be any more specific than to say that we may see some products launch before the holidays.

I suspect we may see more on Kal-El at Computex next week.

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  • ahmedz_1991 - Sunday, May 29, 2011 - link

    it's the future already folks;
    with NVidia's Kal-EL, AMD's Bobcat and Intel's atom, i can' imagine how easy our life will be !!
    desktops are already replaced by notebooks. Will notebooks be replaced by smartphones capable of streaming into TV's and accepting peripherals !!
    seems like stargate universe here !
  • taltamir - Monday, May 30, 2011 - link

    these cannot replace desktops. They are very nice advancements, but they serve to complement desktops, not replace them.
  • vol7ron - Monday, May 30, 2011 - link

    +1 to ahmedz_1991 for being the first AT troller.

    I think we all know that his comment is full of crap, just give him credit, and let him go on his way.
  • vol7ron - Monday, May 30, 2011 - link

    The video is interesting. The funny thing is he puts it down to 2 cores and says it's not playable and puts it back to 4 cores and says "smoothe like butter", but then he said it's pre-production silicon and to expect a 25% increase in performance for the production silicon. Would that mean it might be playable on production dual-core chips?

    Food for thought.
  • ahmedz_1991 - Monday, May 30, 2011 - link

    if u mean by modern games; Dirt 3, Assassins Creed Brotherhood and Need for Speed Hot Persuit. Then u'll be disappointed as i play them with above medium quality smoothely on my Dell N5010
  • ahmedz_1991 - Monday, May 30, 2011 - link

    if u don't like the post u can critisize in a better way !
  • B3an - Monday, May 30, 2011 - link

    LOL @ replace desktops. Obviously you dont do any work.
  • ahmedz_1991 - Monday, May 30, 2011 - link

    more money for equal performance but after all my Dell N5010 with Core i5 and AMD HD 5470 ultimately replace my desktop.
    Believe me mobility has its appeal - i'm not building a workstation or something!
  • jkostans - Monday, May 30, 2011 - link

    Obviously you don't play any modern games
  • Lucian Armasu - Monday, May 30, 2011 - link

    That market is becoming more and more of a niche, with people wanting to play "fun" games instead on their devices. Also, why do you think games have pretty much stagnated in the past few years? It's because they know the PC market is not so big anymore, and they want to capture the notebook market, too.

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