The SoC & Performance

While Amazon chose TI's OMAP 4 for the Kindle Fire, Google and ASUS picked arguably the second best SoC on the market today: NVIDIA's Tegra 3. Keep in mind that high-end ARM SoCs generally sell in the $14 - $25 range per chip, which a fabless semiconductor manufacturer has to split with a foundry. The result is a far cry from the margins NVIDIA is used to making on high-end discrete GPUs. I suspect a desire to make good use of all functional Tegra 3 parts that come back from the fab is the reason why we have so many variants of the Tegra 3.

To date we've seen three Tegra 3 SKUs used in tablets: T30L, T30 and T33. Factor in the smartphone SKUs (AP30, AP33) and it's already a pretty healthy collection for a single chip. The main differences between the 30L, 30 and 33 parts are voltages and clock speeds. I've shown this table in previous articles but I present it here again since T30L is what's in the Nexus 7:

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

The loss in performance compared to T30/T33 is marginal at best, at least for most consumer use cases. Four Cortex A9s running at up to 1.3GHz is definitely quick enough for the types of applications you'll run on the Nexus 7. Things can always be faster, but like the Kindle Fire's OMAP 4, the Nexus 7's T30L is good enough for now. Give it another year and we'll see something even faster at this price point. That's the downside of buying anything in the tablet/smartphone space these days unfortunately.

ASUS Android Tablet Memory Choices
  TF Prime TF Pad 300 Nexus 7 TF Pad Infinity
Memory Capacity 1GB 1GB 1GB 1GB
Memory Type DDR2-1000 DDR3L-1333 DDR3L-1333 DDR3-1600
Memory Bandwidth 4.0GB/s 5.3GB/s 5.3GB/s 6.4GB/s

ASUS selected 1GB of DDR3L-1333 memory for the Nexus 7. This gives it more memory bandwidth than any of the Transformer series of tablets, with the exception of the Transformer Pad Infinity. Since the Tegra 3 SoC only has a single channel memory interface, ASUS had to rely on higher frequency memory to deliver sufficient bandwidth.

Note that the browser performance tests below paint a very good picture for the Nexus 7's performance because Android 4.1 replaces the default web browser with Chrome, with a much faster javascript engine.

SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark 0.9.1

Rightware BrowserMark

The Display GPU Performance
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  • ericore - Friday, July 27, 2012 - link

    Assuming the price is 299 for the entry 16 GB version of Nexus 10, I will only buy it under the following conditions:

    -storage option
    -2GB Ram
    -Preloaded with Ubuntu (duel boot)
    -Option to load other distros in its place

    Linux complements Android very well and fills a lot of the gaps.
    It would be a smart move on Google's part.
    It would be my move.
    Reply
  • richough3 - Friday, July 27, 2012 - link

    I would be tempted to buy this but the lack of decent speakers on a tablet like this is one of the deal killers for me. The other one is the lack of an SD card slot. Sure, it's up to preference, but the way I see it is more and more ISPs are moving to tiered services, so to do everything across the cloud will cost more. Reply
  • Chesher - Friday, July 27, 2012 - link

    Nexus 7 has bluetooth - Kindle Fire does not.

    So, I can use Google Play with my bluetooth speakers with my Nexus 7.

    Just wanted to mention this - because this is a big deal.
    Reply
  • tssynergy - Saturday, July 28, 2012 - link

    Moore's law is in full effect in the tablet world. Given the recent technological progress in components and the slew of new hardware about to hit the streets, I think the differences in the actual devices will become narrow to the point of being insignificant (excluding Windows RT/8, primary computing tablets for now). The key differentiation, in my opinion, lays in the various ecosystems. iTunes vs. Amazon vs. Google Play is where the battle will be won or lost. Sustainable competitive advantage on hardware will be short lived to non existent. Reply
  • ssddaydream - Sunday, July 29, 2012 - link

    While I agree for the larger portion of the market, I think the enthusiast market cannot be ignored. There will always be those who want the absolute best hardware and will just load up AOSP/AOKP. I think the enthusiast market will find a way to bring multi-platform support to their device. Reply
  • Diogenes5 - Sunday, July 29, 2012 - link

    Anyone that thinks Windows 8 Tablets will be competitive at all are fooling themselves. People use Windows devices because they have to, not because they want to. i5/i7-based designs don't offer the kind of battery life and form factor needed for what people have come to expect in the storage space and Tegra 3/ARM based windows 8 tablets offer nothing more hardware wise than current tablets.

    That leaves only the GUI and OS as the differentiating factor between Windows Tablets and Current Tablets. Do people really think that Windows 8 will offer anything near the experience of current android and iOS tablets? Everyone using the RC (including me) is underwhelmed. This is the same Microsoft that produced tablet laptop's for years that nobody bought. Thanks but no thanks, Windows 8 will be a laughingstock just like windows phone.
    Reply
  • maximumGPU - Monday, July 30, 2012 - link

    Another troll..
    all you provide are your opinions and you think they're a reflection of the majority.

    "People use Windows devices because they have to.." plenty of other OS out there if you don't like windows. And guess what? a lot of people do like it.

    "Do people really think that Windows 8 will offer anything near the experience of current android and iOS tablets?" Euh yeah it will, how about proper compatibility and seamless transition between your pc and your tablet for a start?
    I'm a New Ipad owner, and i find the OS very limiting. Awaiting a windows tablet.

    "Everyone using the RC (including me) is underwhelmed.." have you used it in a tablet environment? thought so.

    "Thanks but no thanks, Windows 8 will be a laughingstock just like windows phone". Of course, you'd know that already.
    Reply
  • shaolin95 - Sunday, July 29, 2012 - link

    I was very happy when I saw this tablet first until I read about not SD card options...totally killed it for me...very lame. Reply
  • bertiebond - Monday, July 30, 2012 - link

    but the samsung tab 7.0 (p1000) i use has 3G, has micro SD slot.

    7inch is perfect size for on the go, emergency phone in a pinch, read comics, books, films.

    Nexus, much better hardware specs all round, but critically crippled for what you actually want to use it for.
    Shame really. Samsung sucks with OS upgrades, you have to root it just to get ICS, nevermind jellybean!
    Reply
  • seanleeforever - Tuesday, July 31, 2012 - link

    " In every sense outside of portability, a 10-inch display is much nicer to look at than a 7-inch one in my opinion. There's less zooming in you need to do on web pages or magazines. Text in general is just easier to read and perhaps I'm getting too old, but there's something nice about everything being comfortably bigger.
    Read more at http://www.anandtech.com/show/6073/the-google-nexu...
    "

    really, anand, really?
    would you say the 17 inch notebook is much nicer to look at than 12 inch one?

    my company laptop is a pain in the ass 17 inch dream color elitebook, but i find myself using 12 inch thinpad x unless i absolutely have to do use the company laptop. it is not always the bigger the better.

    with that said, i have both ipad 3 and nexus 7, and my experience has been entirely different from yours. the ipad3 is way to heavy as a tablet, and if i have to use a dedicate carrying device, i find myself using 12 inch laptop most of time. the nexus 7, however, is so light (which you should really focus more in the review IMHO) and allow you to use to use it like a tablet. it also magically fit in all my pants and as someone who travels 70% of time, this is a god send.

    apple is making a big mistake not to release the mini ipad, and now the market is taken.
    Reply

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