We knew they were coming, and we knew when they were coming, but it’s still a bit of a shock to see them out in the wild. Nvidia announced Project Kal-El, their quad-core chipset for mobile, back in February, saying at the time that the first tablets built around the superchip would ship in August/September of this year. Given that it’s now June, it shouldn’t really be a surprise to see reference designs running the four-by-1.2GHz processor monsters out in the wild world of Computex. But still: Quad-core? In a tablet? Crazy.

And hey, why stop at one tablet? Not only is Nvidia showing off a prototype quad-core slate running Android 3.1 in Taipei, but Microsoft showed their new Windows 8 platform running on a Kal-El notebook as well. That last bit of news harkens back to MSFT’s CES keynote, where they showed Windows for ARM running on Nvidia reference hardware – and it’s part of the much bigger story of Windows for ARM, in general. Microsoft took the wraps off of Win8 yesterday, advertising it as one OS to fit devices ranging from handheld tablets to multiple monitor desktop workstations, and not long after they were showing off an early build of the platform in a quad-core notebook.

Vlad from Engadget got his hands on the Android reference tablet and put it through its paces in the video above. Running Honeycomb 3.1 on a Xoom/Tab/Transformer-like 10″, 1280 x 800 display, the Kal-El unit flexed its graphical power in a demo emphasizing real-time lighting, shading and texturing. Look for the first consumer tablets built on the quad-core architecture to ship this September.

Meantime, Netbook News grabbed some video of that Windows 8 Kal-El notebook during Microsoft’s announcement. Note that the machine in the clip above is a true notebook, and not a tablet. The demo is fairly pedestrian, and is in fact the same “Real Word running on ARM” shtick shown at CES, but the news here is that the computer itself boasts the world’s first quad-core ARM design.

Is it time to buy stock in Nvidia? Don’t ask me, I’m just a blogger. But I will say that whether Windows 8 is a revolutionary step forward for Microsoft or the beginning of a huge disaster, times they are a changin’ and high-powered mobile devices are leading the way.

[Via: Engadget, Netbook News (YouTube)]