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Preview: NVIDIA Tegra K1 Compared To Various x86, ARM Linux Systems

Michael Larabel

Published on 4 May 2014
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 1 of 4 - 19 Comments

Since receiving the NVIDIA Jetson TK1 ARM development board a few days ago that features the new Tegra K1 SoC I've been busy running a ton of benchmarks from this quad-core Cortex-A15 platform running Ubuntu Linux. Here's the first of some interesting numbers compared to other Intel x86 and ARM platforms.

The Tegra K1 SoC features four ARM Cortex-A15 cores plus a fifth companion core. On the graphics side, there's now a Kepler-based graphics processor with 192 CUDA cores. This is NVIDIA's first ARM SoC riding on their modern, mainline architecture and it offers up a lot of potential with OpenGL 4.4 support in the ARM space as well as OpenCL and CUDA compute support. In this article we are just looking at the quad-core Cortex-A15 CPU performance -- ARM OpenCL benchmarks and other GPGPU workloads will be tested in a later article.

The platforms being compared for this round of testing included the:

- Samsung Exynos 5 Dual SoC found in the Samsung Series 5 Chromebook.
- NVIDIA Tegra 3 "Cardhu" developer tablet.
- Intel Atom N270 within a Samsung NC10 netbook.
- Intel Atom Z530 within the CompuLab Fit-PC2.
- Intel Atom D525 within a Foxconn Netbox.
- Intel Core i3 330M within an ASRock NetTop.

These systems and results were from some earlier Phoronix testing looking at the Intel x86 vs. ARM performance. Unfortunately for these older systems are running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS whereas the Jetson TK1 developer image is for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. Unfortunately there aren't yet Ubuntu 14.04 spins for the other ARM hardware being tested in this article and some of the other ARM hardware at Phoronix, the Intel Atom N270 system no longer runs, etc. So on the software side it's a bit messy for this article but I'm currently working on some clean Ubuntu 14.04 LTS benchmarks on all supported systems to compare properly to the Jetson TK1, but even there, the Tegra K1 is currently using the Linux 3.10 kernel compared to Ubuntu 14.04 officially using the Linux 3.13 kernel.

So just be forewarned there are some software differences for the testing in this article, but some "clean" data is being worked on. As well, benchmarks of the Kepler graphics on the NVIDIA TK1, OpenCL / CUDA, and other interesting benchmarks when I've had more time with this low-power ARM board. These are just some rough numbers in this article for those curious about the potential of the Tegra K1 with its four-plus-one Cortex-A15 processor. All of the Linux x86 and ARM benchmarking was handled in a fully-automated and reproducible manner using the open-source Phoronix Test Suite.

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