The first Tegra 4 devices have just started shipping this month, but NVIDIA is ready to tantalize their fans with what next year will bring with Tegra 5 and the mobile Kepler GPU inside. This isn’t the first time we are hearing about mobile Kepler, this Battlefield 3 demo back in April showed what Tegra 5 and mobile Kepler were capable of, but they are now running from a reference design tablet.

Mobile Kepler is notable for utilizing the same architecture as NVIDIA’s full-blown desktop/laptop GPU, Kepler. It offers support for OpenGL 4.4, Open GL ES 3.0 and DirectX 11. This provides some new tools for mobile developers that will enable them to deliver visuals that are far closer to that of a current PC than previously possible. If you watched the NVIDIA keynote at CES 2013 you might remember the Ira demo which is a rendering of a human head with shifting facial expressions. That demo was done with a full GeForce Titan GTX GPU, but the sample below as you will see is running on mobile Kepler.

Their second demo is rendering a small island and illustrates the benefits that tessellation brings graphically, delivering up to 10x the detail than would otherwise be possible.

Again we are just starting to see Tegra 4 devices shipping and of course NVIDIA’s own Tegra 4 hardware, SHIELD, will be shipping in just 7 days, but glimpses at the next generation are always exciting and I have to say mobile Kepler really does sound like a leap rather than a step forward. It’s been noted that NVIDIA doesn’t seem to have quite the same toehold in Android that they did last year, but remember that they announced last month that they will be licensing Kepler to mobile manufacturers which could have huge ramifications for them in 2014.

One other interesting, if not surprising, note from NVIDIA was that Tegra 5 could power the next SHIELD which would indicate that device will be refreshed approximately once a year along with the newest chipset just as Ouya has stated they are planning to do with their console. Gamers are accustomed to a longer timeline than that for upgraded console hardware so I’m unsure how that will sit with them.

What do you think of NVIDIA’s prospects for 2014?