A Faster Tegra 3, More Memory Bandwidth

As its new Android tablet flagship, ASUS selected the fastest Tegra 3 SoC NVIDIA is offering today: the T33. Architecturally similar to the rest of the Tegra 3 lineup, the T33 is simply a higher leakage part running at a higher voltage to hit higher clock speeds. Whereas the original T30 used in the Transformer Prime ran at a nominal voltage of 1.15V, the T33 runs at 1.237V. CPU clocks can now reach 1.7GHz with a single core active, or 1.6GHz otherwise.

NVIDIA Tegra 3
  CPU Cores Max CPU Clock (1 core active) Max CPU Clock (multiple cores) GPU Cores Max GPU Clock
NVIDIA Tegra 3 (T33) 4+1 1.7GHz 1.6GHz 12 520MHz
NVIDIA Tegra 3 (T30) 4+1 1.4GHz 1.3GHz 12 520MHz
NVIDIA Tegra 3 (T30L) 4+1 1.3GHz 1.2GHz 12 416MHz

ASUS continues to expose control over the CPU governer through its Performance, Balanced and Power Saving modes exposed in ICS. In general, the balanced mode really does deliver nearly max performance (1.5 - 1.6GHz) while power saving significantly clamps CPU clock speeds (1GHz) and is more conservative with ramping up CPU clock to that max. Despite offering support for up to 1.7GHz operation, I typically saw 1.6GHz as a max even in performance mode.

SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark 0.9.1

Rightware BrowserMark

The higher clocked CPU does deliver a tangible performance improvement over the Transformer Prime, and definitely over the original Transformer if you look at the BrowserMark results.

Although GPU clocks remain unchanged, in order to drive the higher resolution panel ASUS outfitted the Infinity with DDR3-1600. If I'm reading the part numbers on the DRAM devices used in previous models it looks like there's a significant increase in memory bandwidth this generation:

ASUS Transformer Memory Choices
  TF Prime TF Pad 300 TF Pad Infinity
Memory Capacity 1GB 1GB 1GB
Memory Type DDR2-500 DDR3-667 DDR3-1600
Memory Bandwidth 2.0GB/s 2.7GB/s 6.4GB/s

Remember NVIDIA's Tegra 3 only has a single channel memory interface, so frequency is the only option for increasing memory bandwidth. The increase in bandwidth does make scrolling and most UI interactions fairly smooth, although you will see dropped frames from time to time. I must say I'm fairly impressed by how well ASUS/NVIDIA were able to pull off smoothness without a significant hardware update. It's worth pointing out that the experience is far from perfect though. Even ICS is rough around the edges when it comes to delivering consistent UI performance on a tablet. Google is expected to address this with Jelly Bean but it's something to keep in mind for those buying in the near future. Granted by the time the Infinity is actually available, Jelly Bean may have already launched. As ASUS is widely expected to be a launch partner on Jelly Bean, I wonder if that means TF Pad Infinity owners will get a swift update.

The Display GPU Performance
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  • smartypnt4 - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    So, I understand that you can only do so much in one review, but come on...

    Where are your physical impressions of the device? I understand that the exterior is virtually identical to the Transformer Prime, but still. It'd be nice to even get a "go see the Tranformer Prime review for my detailed impressions on build quality, etc." Where are the battery life figures with the dock? I know it takes a lot of time to test everything, but you waited much longer after all the other review sites to post your iPad 3 and rMBP review. If you don't have a problem waiting on the Apple products, why rush this one out as soon as the NDA lifts?

    Sorry if it sounds like I'm whining. I just want the same kind of coverage devoted to Android's new flagship tablet as I saw with the new Macbook Pro or that I saw in the iPad 3 review. Both of those had reviews that were twice as long. Granted, the rMBP (love that acronym you used btw) was a very large upgrade, but the iPad 3 didn't differ appreciably from the iPad 2 in any area other than the screen, similarly to how the Infinity differs from the Prime.

    Other than not covering the build quality aspect, though, great review! I really want to see one of these things in action and compare it to my iPad 3 and see how it stacks up. I know the pixel density isn't on par with the iPad, but I'm getting rather tired of the iOS UI on a tablet. I wish I could have some good widgets.
    Reply
  • bryanb - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    Why is Windows and Microsoft mentioned so much in the article? This article should have been reviewing the updated Transformer Prime running Android.

    Please keep the Microsoft fanboy rants in their own articles so that we can ignore them easier.
    Reply
  • sprockkets - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    TF Prime is taken off market or is going to be cheaper, then will the other plastic body ones be cheaper??? Reply
  • Possum - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    Did ASUS change anything with the way their tablets are assembled and filtered through QC? I went through one Transformer Prime and three Transformer TF300's, and all had horrible backlight bleed issues. Reply
  • fic2 - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    Is it just me that doesn't really see the use in a rear facing camera? Holding up a big tablet (compared to a phone or actual camera) to take a picture is kind of awkward. I just don't really see the need for my tablet or laptop to have a camera other than for skype, etc. Reply
  • Tujan - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    How did the Internet (Browser) benches get Benched. By which Internet connectivity type being utilized ?

    - Wi-fi
    - Tethered Phone
    - Some other

    There was not any USB port said on the Tablet . Unless I missed this spec. somewhere. I have not seen any HDMI Wimax (via Internet Service Provider). In order to run a wireless connection.

    Is this intended to be marketed this way. A localized Internet device via wi-fi etc. Certainly looks intentional w/o a USB connector.

    Did not see a processor percentage for use of HDMI to external Display/HDTV either.
    Reply
  • Tujan - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    P.S. Idea being is this being marketed to that you/me/us/we .. can go "shopping" for wi-fi spots ? Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    All of the browser benchmarks were over WiFi. Reply
  • sonelone - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    Please review the N56VZ next. It is a very capable laptop and offers Macbook Pro level performance at $1300. Reply
  • Godofmosquitos - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    Any word on when the Infinity Pad we're actually waiting for will arrive? I ofc mean the 3G version of this device, sporting Qualcomm's S4 Krait instead of Tegra 3, likely sporting both better performance and much better battery life than what we see here... Reply

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