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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  • Tchamber - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    I had problems browsing with the ipad, too. The difference is that on my TFP the browser rights itself rather than having to close it and open again. Multitasking is easier too, no double tapping anything. Sure ICS could be polished up a bit, but as far as capability its at least on par with IOS. IPad still has performance edge and battery, but thats getting smaller all the time. Reply
  • sawilson - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    iOS is a lot less stable than ICS. You don't have to take my world for it. Crittercism did the research. Safari is the buggiest piece of sh*t I've used in my life on iOS, and it's a damn shame because it's one of the finest browsers I've used when on OSX. It's shame apple can't just get OSX working on the ipad. Then it would be worth it. Reply
  • DeciusStrabo - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    I would say they are about the same for me. Maybe, maybe Android is a bit more stable, but I would attribute this to the fine gentlemen and -women working at CM9. Neither is annoying with the crashes, so I'd say they are both perfectly usable. Reply
  • sprockkets - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    Put Chrome on it - for whatever reason the browser on Asus' tablets is not up to par. Why when every other ICS browser works fine is beyond me... Reply
  • Belard - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    Get OPERA for Android then... much better than the built in browser. Reply
  • Belard - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    OOPS! Even for my Samsung galaxy phone, the Opera browser is excellent. I get tabbed browsing, better entry for text fields. Reply
  • lilmoe - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    I actually HATE Apple products myself. But Anand is anything but a fanboy... I know a fanboy when i see one. Engadget, TB, and other websites "tech websites" have lots of them.

    Anyway. While I seriously hate admitting this. "Currently", the only tablet worth buying if the user is concerned about "user experience" and fluidity is in fact the iPad. I personally think the iPad 2,4 is the best deal out there; i could care less for higher "non-standard" resolutions.

    But Anand threw a bomb at the end of his article here. The transformer line needs a much more fluid and "functional" OS. That being, Windows 8. I agree. Windows 8 ARM/x86 tablets are going to show us a whole new dimension in computing and fluidity. Be prepared to see most Anandtech authors being called Windows/Microsoft fanboys by the end of the year.
    Reply
  • BabelHuber - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    AFAIK Windows 8 RT is locked, like the iPad is.

    This means e.g. no sideloading of Apps, you have to rely on Microsoft's App store.

    I even haven't rooted my TF Prime since I haven't seen a need so far.

    Of course you can jailbreak the iPad, probably you will be able to do so with Windows RT devices. BUT what disadvantages do you get? On Android I have none, except of voiding my warranty.

    The TF series consists of real PCs, meaning that PERSONAL is a part of it since I can do whatever I see fit with my device.

    A part of this are standard interfaces like HDMI, SD cards and USB. I wouldn't want to miss this.

    So the bottom line is: Until I haven't seen detailled tests of WIndows RT tablets, it remains to be seen whether Windows RT will be 'better' at all.

    As a sindenote: WIth WIndows Surface, MS is directly competing with its OEMs. It remains to be seen how OEMs will react.

    Samsung and HTC already made it clear that they prefer Android over WIndows Phone for smartphones. The tablet race is still open, Microsoft has no user base whatsoever.
    Reply
  • xype - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    The thing is that tablets for most people are appliances. The group that actually wants a PC in a tablet form factor is not that large. The group that couldn’t care less as long as they don’t have to spend time tinkering with the device is much, much larger.

    Of course an argument can be made that iOS can be jailbroken (and Windows RT will probably be, too), and there certainly is a group of people out there who prefers an Apple device with the "openess" they expect from a PC.

    And that’s all ok! Android is a perfect fit for the "tinkerers" and thanks to Apple setting expectations pretty high, they’ll get a great tablet/phone user experience to boot, as Android needs to stay competitive with iOS. It’s like the mythical "Linux on the Desktop", but with more apps. :oP

    Windows 8/RT’s impact remains to be seen. Their approach certainly is novel and if Microsoft can manage to get enough developers on board, they might end up with a real alternative. I’m only afraid they will end up being too schizophrenic for that, trying to do it all and ending up doing nothing well enough for people to give a shit.
    Reply
  • BabelHuber - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    I did not talk about 'tinkering'. Tinkering for me means installing Custom ROMs, overclocking, replacing system files etc.

    Everybody who is able to download a program for Windows/ OS X and install it can do this also with Android.

    No need for rooting, no need for tinkering. Just downloading a file, going to the file browser and selecting the downloaded file is very easy.

    If an OS does not provide this, it is not a full OS, but a restricted one.
    Reply

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