The NVIDIA Tegra X1 and Shield Upgrade Rumour, Teraflop Tomfoolery…

Rumours have been swirling around the wobbly web that suggest NVIDIA will soon be releasing the next generation Shield tablet, a tablet based on the brand new Tegra X1 chip that’s capable of delivering a Teraflop of processing power.

Helping to further whip the net into a frenzy NVIDIA this week sent out invites for a mysterious media event on the 3rd of March in San Francisco. It is expected that NVIDIA will announce the release date of the new Shield, some rumours suggest the release date will be as early as the 17th of March while other whispers are suggesting the new X1 Shield may appear as late as June 2015.

Will the Shield be the first product to use the X1 chipset and become the first Teraflop tablet? Will the world’s first Teraflop tablet be a Q1 or Q2 product? Hopefully NVIDIA will answer these questions and more on March 3rd.

It is common to measure a computers processing power by talking megahertz or gigahertz but the more accurate measurement is actually ops and flops, Operations and Floating point operations per second. A measurement that represents how many commands or tasks a computer can perform in a set period of time.

Highpants-Nvidia-Shield-Tablet-and-Controller
The original Shield Tablet

Not too long ago being able to perform a trillion floating point operations (Teraflop) per second took supercomputer hardware.  The first supercomputer to pass the Teraflop mark was ASCI Red 15 years ago; now that much power can be packed into a tablet that can slip into a large pocket thanks to the NVIDIA Tegra X1 and the soon to be released X1 Shield tablet.

So what does a Teraflop of processing power get you? Playing 60fps 4k video streams with ease along with the title as the most powerful gaming tablet available is just the beginning. The X1 chip is also being aimed at the automotive industry with the ability to build auto-parking, auto-driving functions along with incredibly lush dash displays using just a single chip.

Under the hood the X1 chip is based on the same Maxwell GPU architecture introduced with the GTX 980 high end video card in December. While the 980 uses 2048 GPU cores the X1 squeezes 256 Maxwell graphics cores and two quad core ARM CPU’s onto a tiny low power piece of silicon.

To date NVIDIA hasn’t had a great deal of success getting its chips into tablets from other manufacturers but the Shield tablet becoming the most powerful gaming tablet on the market can’t hurt one bit.

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Reference: NVIDIA Tegra X1
Reference: NVIDIA GTX 980
Reference: AnandTech – NVIDIA Tegra X1 Architecture