Nvidia officially introduces quad-core Tegra 3, Asus serves up Eee Pad Transformer Prime details

Alex Wagner
Editorial Director of News and Content from Omaha, NE
Published: November 8, 2011

Nvidia Tegra 3

We've known about Nvidia's quad-core successor to the Tegra 2, codenamed Kal-El, for some time now, and we even got a taste of just what it's capable of back in May. Today Nvidia officially took the wraps off of the Tegra 3, the chip that you'll likely see powering more than a few devices over the next year or so.

The Tegra 3 is a quad-core processor, but it also includes a fifth "companion core" that will be kicked on by the T3's Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing (vSMP) tech to handle lightweight tasks like listening to music. When the companion core is active, the four main cores will shut down to conserve battery life. However, when performing a more processor intensive task like playing a game, the vSMP will activate the T3's four main cores. The T3 also packs a 12-core Nvidia GeForce GPU (3x the graphics performance of the Tegra 2), support for stereoscopic 3D, and wide game controller support. Overall Nvidia says that the Tegra 3 packs 5x the power of the Tegra 2 but consumes up to 61 percent less battery, which leads to around 12 hours of battery life during HD video playback.

In order to help celebrate the arrival of the Tegra 3, Asus has announced the follow-up to its Eee Pad Transformer: the Eee Pad Transformer Prime. Just like we heard late last month, the Transformer Prime features a quad-core Tegra 3 processor that's crammed into a body that measures 8.3mm thick. Other Transformer Prime specs include:

  • 10.1-inch 1280x800 Super IPS+ display with Gorilla Glass
  • 8-megapixel camera with LED flash and F2.4 aperture
  • 1.2-megapixel front-facing shooter
  • microSD slot
  • Micro HDMI port
  • 32GB or 64GB of built-in storage
  • 1GB RAM
  • A battery that's rated to last up to 18 hours when paired with the optional keyboard dock (12 hours without)
  • Android 3.2 Honeycomb

Asus added that an over the air update to Ice Cream Sandwich will be pushed to the Transformer Prime as soon as the code is approved. Pricing is set at $499 for the 32GB model and $599 for the more capacious 64GB variant, and customers interested in the Prime's keyboard dock can expect to pony up an extra $149. Asus says that the Transformer Prime will launch in December in both Amethyst Gray and Champagne Gold.

Overall the Tegra 3 looks like a nice step up from the Tegra 2. It's especially good to hear that Nvidia worked to lower the amount of battery that the T3 sucks down considering that the batteries powering our beloved mobile devices don't seem to be improving at the same rapid pace as the processors.

As for the Transformer Prime? The original Eee Pad Transformer is one of the more popular Honeycomb tablets to date, so I wouldn't be surprised to see its quad-core successor do just as well, if not even better. Plus, Asus is promising to bring Ice Cream Sandwich to the Prime in a timely manner, so potential buyers of the device have that to look forward to. We've got the press releases for both the Tegra 3 and Transformer Prime, as well as a video showing some developers talking up the Tegra 3 and showing off their games, below.

Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime

Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime rear

NVIDIA Quad-Core Tegra 3 Chip Sets New Standards of Mobile Computing Performance, Energy Efficiency

Tegra 3’s fifth ‘companion’ core enables ultra-low power consumption, while advanced quad-core processors drive record-breaking performance

SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Nov. 8, 2011— NVIDIA today ushered in the era of quad-core mobile computing with the introduction of the NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 processor, bringing PC-class performance levels, better battery life and improved mobile experiences to tablets and phones. The world’s first quad-core tablet with the Tegra 3 processor is the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime.

Known previously by the codename “Project Kal-El,” the Tegra 3 processor provides up to 3x the graphics performance of Tegra 2, and up to 61 percent lower power consumption. This translates into an industry-leading 12 hours of battery life for HD video playback.

The Tegra 3 processor implements a new, patent-pending technology known as Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing (vSMP). vSMP includes a fifth CPU “companion”, specifically designed for work requiring little power. The four main cores are specifically designed for work requiring high performance, and generally consume less power than dual-core processors.

During tasks that require less power consumption – like listening to music, playing back video or updating background data – the Tegra 3 processor completely shuts down its four performance-tuned cores and, instead, uses its companion core. For high-performance tasks – like web browsing, multitasking and gaming – the Tegra 3 processor disables the companion.??

“NVIDIA’s fifth core is ingenious,” said Nathan Brookwood, Research Fellow at Insight 64. “Tegra 3’s vSMP technology extends the battery life of next-generation mobile devices by using less power when they’re handling undemanding tasks and then ratcheting up performance when it’s really needed.”

The Tegra 3 quad-core CPUs are complemented with a new 12-core NVIDIA GeForce® GPU, which delivers more realism with dynamic lighting, physical effects and high resolution environments, plus support for 3D stereo, giving developers the means to bring the next generation of mobile games to life.

For the millions who play games on mobile devices, the Tegra 3 processor provides an experience comparable to that of a game console. It offers full game-controller support, enabling consumers to play games on their tablet or super phone, or connect to big screen HDTVs for a truly immersive experience. It also leverages NVIDIA’s award-winning 3D Vision technology and automatically converts OpenGL applications to stereo 3D, so consumers can experience 3D on a big screen 3D TV (via HDMITM 1.4 technology).

The Tegra 3 processor provides the industry’s....

Fastest web experience - with accelerated Adobe Flash Player 11, HTML5 and WebGL browsing, and an optimized Javascript engine

Fastest applications - with blazing performance for multimedia apps, such as photo and video editing

Fastest multitasking – for switching between common uses, such as playing music and games, and background tasks

Fastest, highest-quality gaming – including new Tegra 3 processor-optimized NVIDIA

Tegra ZoneTM app games such as Shadowgun, Riptide GP, Sprinkle, Big Top THD, Bladeslinger, DaVinci THD and Chidori.

Highlights / Key Facts:

The Tegra 3 processor redefines power consumption and mobile-computing performance with:

????????o The world's first quad-core ARM Cortex A9 CPU

o New patent-pending vSMP technology, including a fifth CPU core that runs

at a lower frequency and operates at exceptionally low power

o 12-core GeForce GPU, with 3x the graphics performance of the Tegra 2

processor, including support for stereoscopic 3D

o New video engines with support for 1080p high profile video at 40 Mbps o Up to 3x higher memory bandwidth

o Up to 2x faster Image Signal Processor

40 games are expected to be available by the end of 2011, and over 15 Tegra 3 games are under development for Tegra Zone, NVIDIA’s free Android Market app that showcases the best games optimized for the Tegra processor.

The Tegra 3 processor is in production. Developers can order the Tegra 3 Developer Kit to create applications for devices with Tegra such as tablets and super phones, at developer.nvidia.com/tegra.

ASUS Announces the Eee Pad Transformer Prime

Featuring the NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 Quad-Core Processor the Transformer Prime is designed to greatly enhance the mobile computing experience

Fremont, CA (November 8, 2011) — ASUS officially announces the world's first tablet with the NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 quad-core processor – the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime. The Eee Pad Transformer Prime is ultra-thin at 8.3mm (0.33”) and lightweight at 586g (1.29lbs) while featuring a stylish metallic swirl design with class leading enhancements including ASUS SonicMaster audio technology, an HD 8MP rear auto-focus camera with LED flash and battery life rated for up to 18 hours* when combined with the optional mobile dock. Pricing will range from $499** (32GB) to $599** (64GB), with the optional mobile dock accessory priced at $149**.  

Incredibly Slim yet Incredibly Powerful

Featuring an ultra-slim form factor, the Transformer Prime is only 8.3mm (0.33”) thin and weighs in at a mere 586g (1.29lbs without dock).  This makes watching movies, surfing the web, playing games, taking photos, finishing up homework or video chatting with friends or family so easy and natural that you’ll wonder if the Transformer Prime was designed specifically with you in mind.  Its innovative metallic swirl design is made of aluminum for a secure yet extremely comfortable grip that comes in two gorgeous colors: Amethyst Gray and Champagne Gold.

The Transformer Prime is the world’s first tablet to feature NVIDIA’s next-generation quad-core Tegra® 3 processor.  With the quad-core CPU, 12-core GeForce® GPU and vSMP technology, the Transformer Prime delivers an optimum user experience featuring smooth multitasking capabilities, lightning fast app loading, a rich and fluid web experience, full 1080P HD video for realistic media playback or recording and of course, incredible gaming performance that allows you to experience games in an entirely new way. 

Fantastic Battery Life 

While the Transformer Prime is extremely slim and light, ASUS did not forget about battery life.  Thanks to the advanced power management features of the Tegra® 3 processor and ASUS optimizations the Transformer Prime has a battery life of up to 12 hours*, but when combined with the mobile dock, it lasts up to an incredible 18 hours*, the longest battery life of any current tablet.  That’s enough battery life for a trans-ocean flight, all-night game session, viewing several movies on a long road trip or even video recording, editing, and then playing back your child’s school play all in 1080P HD clarity.

Unrivaled Visuals

The Eee Pad Transformer Prime boasts a wide 178° viewing angle IPS display, protected by Corning® Gorilla® Glass, which features new ASUS technology to enhance the brightness of the screen for a better outdoor reading experience while still offering a remarkably vivid and brilliant viewing experience of photos, books, videos, movies and web pages indoors. Thanks to Multi-Touch technology, you can use your fingers to do everything from swiping through photos, surfing the web, playing the latest games, typing emails, instant messaging, reading books or magazines, and starting your favorite movie.

A 1.2MP front camera allows for instant photos or high-quality video conferencing with friends, family or coworkers while an 8MP rear camera with auto-focus and LED flash takes brilliant photos or video thanks to a large F2.4 aperture, back illuminated CMOS sensor, touch-to-focus depth of field and low-light noise reduction to provide the clearest and sharpest photos or even 1080P HD videos. 

Advanced Audio

The Transformer Prime offers impressive audio capabilities in a tablet, powered by ASUS exclusive SonicMaster technology, renowned for crisp and acoustically accurate audio. It produces crystal clear sound with a wide sound stage, increased audio fidelity, and distinct vocal enhancements for an immersive audio experience with your favorite music track, video, or movie.

Unlimited Productivity

The Transformer Prime is offered with either 32GB or 64B flash storage options for quick, efficient and reliable access to your applications.  Both models feature a micro SD card slot, 3.5mm combo audio jack and micro HDMI port so sharing both what’s inside and on-screen is quick and easy. However, the function that gives the Transformer Prime its namesake is the mobile dock, which gives new meaning to the term versatility. This innovative and convenient design seamlessly provides the user with a keyboard and touchpad, along with limitless expandability options via the USB port and SD card slot. 

ASUS will include several innovative applications like SuperNote that is fantastic for its ability to take, draw or record notes and Polaris® Office which is great for staying productive with the ability to read, edit or create Word, Excel and PowerPoint (MS Office 97-2007) compatible files.  Thousands of top rated applications and games are also available at Android Market that fully takes advantage of the Transformer Prime’s amazing features and power.