Acer unveils Nvidia Tegra K1-based Chromebook 13
August 11, 2014 // 12 p.m.
Nvidia has announced the first laptop to come with the company's flagship Tegra K1 system-on-chip processor, a keenly-priced Chromebook from Acer.
Powered by the Nvidia Tegra K1 SoC, the Acer Chromebook 13 packs four high-performance Cortex-A15 ARM processing cores alongside a fifth low-power 'Shadow Core' which takes over during idle. The result is, according to Acer's internal testing, an impressive 13 hour battery life - even in the higher-end model which includes a Full HD 1,920x1,080 13.3" display, to the entry-level's 1,366x768.
The real key differentiator for the Tegra K1, however, is its graphics cores. Rather than using existing mobile-centric graphics technology, Nvidia has given the processor 192 Kepler-class GPU cores based on the same microarchitecture as its desktop graphics products. That means up to 300 gigaflops of compute performance accessible via OpenGL, OpenCL, CUDA and - although not on the Linux-based Chromebook - DirectX.
This impressive power will, Nvidia has been promised, be put to use in the Chromebook thanks to WebGL, an API designed to bring OpenGL-style accelerated graphics into the browser. Using WebGL, webdevs can produce impressive 3D graphics without having to install anything locally into the system - perfect for Google's Chrome OS, which is designed to run web apps exclusively.
Compared to rival chips, like the Samsung Exynos 5800 or Intel's Celeron N2830, NVidia claims that the Tegra K1 in the Acer Chromebook 13 easily tops the tables in CPU-led multi-tasking - albeit with Samsung's chip right behind - while the graphics performance for WebGL use is between 2.5 and five times its competitors.
The most important part of the package is, however, the price. While UK pricing had yet to be confirmed at the time of writing, Acer has set a European recommended retail price of €279 for the low-resolution model and €299 for the Full HD equivalent. Both measure 18mm thick, weigh 1.5kg and feature a larger-than-average trackpad and anti-glare displays, along with two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, and integrated 720p webcam.