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Nvidia ships Tegra K1. This time only to software developers

Nvidia Corp. on Thursday said that it had started volume shipments of its Jetson TK1 development kits, which are based on the company’s highly-anticipated Tegra K1 system-on-chip with four ARM Cortex-A15 cores, Nvidia Kepler-based graphics and a variety of other hardware. The development kit is aimed at designers of software for embedded applications.

Nowadays programs for mobile and embedded apps rely on general-purpose cores (e.g., ARMv7/ARMv8, Intel x86, AMD x86) when performing general-purpose computations. However, many PC applications these days perform highly-parallel GP computations on graphics processing units compatible with application programming interfaces like OpenCL. In the future it will be possible to use mobile GPUs (such as the Kepler core inside the Tegra K1) to perform general-purpose computations as well. The Jetson TK1 is aimed at developers of GPU-accelerated embedded applications, bringing significant parallel processing performance and exceptional power efficiency to embedded applications.

nvidia_tegra_k1_scheme

The Jetson TK1 development kit is a 5” wide by 5” long printed circuit board with a Tegra K1 application processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of on-board NAND flash storage and numerous peripherals and input/output ports. The Jetson K1 is capable of supporting multiple cameras through a variety of interfaces, including USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, PCI Express x1 slot. In addition, the CSI 1×4 and 1×1 buses are available through the expansion port and can be used to feed camera images directly into the image signal processor (ISP) on Tegra K1 (bypassing memory), for direct image processing. Up to four cameras cab be used for various computer vision applications.

nvidia_jetson_tk1_devkit

The Jetson TK1 development kit runs Linux for Tegra (L4T), a modified Ubuntu 14.04 Linux distribution provided by Nvidia. The software package supplied with the devkit includes the board support package (BSP) and the software stack that includes CUDA 6 Toolkit, OpenGL 4.4 drivers and the Nvidia VisionWorks Toolkit.

Nvidia hopes that the kit will be used to develop robotics, medicine, security, automotive, and defense applications, among others. Theoretically, at least some GPU-accelerated PC apps could be ported to systems powered by Tegra K1.

Keeping in mind that the development kit is powered by proprietary software, it is hardly possible to create true commercial applications based solely on the Jetson TK1. However, the kit should be sufficient for various experiments.

The Jetson TK1 development kit is available via NewEgg and Microcenter for $192.

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KitGuru Says: The fact that Nvidia ships Tegra K1-based development kits via etailers means that the company has enough system-on-chips, which indicates that the mass production of the quad-core ARM Cortex-A15-based version of the SoC has been initiated and the chips are at Nvidia’s hands. Now, it remains to be seen when consumer devices featuring the new system-on-chips arrive to the market…

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