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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  • rickcain2320 - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    And thus, Microsoft completely misunderstands the tablet market by even considering it could be a laptop. Reply
  • jmhart - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    Too bad MS has yet to build an OS that bridges the PC/laptop gap yet. Maybe they'll pull it off with WinRT, but to date that haven't so their "understanding" means nothing. Reply
  • DeciusStrabo - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    This might be the case some day, but WindowsRT won't be a laptop any more or less than the Transformer, thanks to internals being even weaker than this tablet shown here and its limitation to Metro (and Office Home version).

    Only Windows 8 Pro will be really trying to bridge the gap, and then you get the usual Ultrabook issues (fan noise, heat, shorter run time, weight). So while I would love a real tablet-laptop hybrid, I'm afraid it won't be before we see Broadwell released that this dream comes true. The best are compromises (either like the Transformer here at tablet with a keyboard attachment or like the Windows 8 Pro thin a Ultrabook with a touchscreen).
    Reply
  • kpopat - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    The question is, how will you type on the Surface tablet, if you do not have a table?

    (BTW - Reader of Anandtech since I think 2000 and this is the second or third times I have posted on this site - after a very long break :-D)
    Reply
  • B3an - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    And you dont seem to understand anything. Surface already looks vastly higher quality than this, and already has FAR more interest than any Android tablet will get. Many people dont want gimmicks, they want a real PC the size of a tablet thats actually useful.

    "Plus how are you going to use the kickstand+touch cover on your lap?"

    And what kind of stupid question is that?? You simply dont. But it's there when you need it, for things like actual work/typing.

    When Surface is released and sells far more than any Android tablet i cant wait to laugh at people like you.
    Reply
  • 3DoubleD - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    The question still stands though... how do you use a surface tablet on your lap with the softcover keyboard?

    You can't unless you brought a hard surface to prop it up on.

    An ultraportable laptop/netbook/tablet that can't be used while traveling is probably the most useless thing I've ever heard of.
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    Tray table? That's where I use my laptop on trains/planes/whatever... Reply
  • 3DoubleD - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    That works on planes, but what about when you are waiting to board a plane?

    Not all trains have the trays (I'd say most don't have them).

    Bus? Car? Bench in a park?

    I don't see the point of an ultra-portable that forces you to look for a tablet to use it!

    The ASUS concept for the Transformer is by far the better design.
    Reply
  • french toast - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    You don't have to use the keyboard if you don't want to, perhaps on a plane you could use the tray? Use on screen keyboard? Or perhaps by a mini Bluetooth foldup keyboard? ..

    I think it's great to see some innovation going on, nothing will ever suit everyone..it can't..if you don't like it..don't buy it.

    Despite that it looks like a high end device imo.
    Reply
  • Belard - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    You know 3DoubleD... you have some issues. We get it, you don't like or need mobile devices.

    I rarely use my notebook... but I do use it. It works in cars, hotels. its a portable computer. Nothing more. Go out of town, need to do articles, print reports, etc... notebook is easier to carry than a 25lb box!

    I use my iPad more than my ThinkPad... I use it on the can, use on the sofa, use on the train... I can prop it or hold it in my hand... it gets about 8 hours of use... something my notebook CAN'T do.

    What works for you, might not work for someone else.
    Reply

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