NVIDIA have recently released 2 whitepapers detailing the pros and design aspects of their Quad-Core CPU, Kal-El, or Tegra 3. In the whitepaper they mention that Tegra 3 actually has a 5th core, that’s more-or-less a companion core for the CPU. This companion core powers the device when it is in sleep mode or when performing background tasks that don’t need a heap of processing power to run (such as syncing emails, Twitter, Facebook, etc). This enables the CPU to continue processing whilst sucking less life out of the battery.

The core is clocked at a maximum of 500MHz so that it doesn’t run crazy and eliminate the point of power saving, though NVIDIA didn’t cut corners, instead they built the core on the same Cortex A9 architecture as the 4 main cores.

Somehow I think unofficial mods are going to overclock this core to make Tegra 3 more of a processing beast than it already will be — that is, once it is actually inside devices that consumers can buy. Bring on the Penta-Core CPUs!

Source: NVIDIA Whitepaper (pdf).
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Right! I will definitely be waiting for the Kal El quad core tablets to come out! Any rumours of the tablets coming out with this beauty in it?

Buzz Moody

ASUS Transformer Prime: http://ausdroid.net/2011/11/09/asus-announces-the-asus-transformer-prime-launches-in-december-quad-core-8-3mm-thick-12hr-battery-life/

Ian Tester

Not only is the core limited to 500 MHz, it’s “built using a special low power silicon process”. They go on to explain that such a process has a low leakage power so it can be extra power efficient at lower clock frequencies. But at the same time, this makes it use much more power when clocked to higher frequencies. So while it could be interesting to “unlock” this fifth core, it’d be stupid to overclock to similar speeds as the other cores. You’d use way more battery power and generate a lot of heat. Also, since the companion core… Read more »

Norman Ma

This I like, it seems to be a genuinely innovative approach to the battery life problem with phones today. Now if only the battery and screen tech could catch up…