GPU Performance

Contrary to popular opinion prior to its launch, the Clover Trail platform and Cloverview SoC feature a PowerVR SGX 545 GPU. The rumored PowerVR SGX 544MP2 won’t show up until Clover Trail+ next year. The SGX 545 is clocked at a fairly aggressive 533MHz.

Architecturally the 545 is very similar to the PowerVR SGX 540 used in Intel’s Medfield smartphone platform, with a handful of additions. The shader array remains unchanged at four USSE pipes. The 545 adds four more 10-bit integer pipes, doubles the triangle setup rate and doubles the number of depth test units as well. DirectX 10 class texture hardware is also a part of the mix, as well as everything else needed to officially support DirectX 10 (D3D feature level 9_3).

Compared to what’s shipping in the latest iPads however, Clover Trail is horribly under-specced. We don’t have good cross-platform (Windows RT/8) GPU tests yet, but based on what I’ve seen thus far it looks like the GPU here is a bit slower than what you get in a Tegra 3.

Mobile SoC GPU Comparison
  PowerVR SGX 545 NVIDIA Tegra 3 PowerVR SGX 543MP2 PowerVR SGX 543MP4 PowerVR SGX 554MP4
Used In Clover Trail Tegra 3 iPad 2/mini iPad 3 iPad 4
SIMD Name USSE "core" USSE2 USSE2 USSE2
# of SIMDs 4 12 8 16 32
MADs per SIMD 2 1 4 4 4
Total MADs 8 12 32 64 128
GFLOPS @ 300MHz 4.8 GFLOPS 7.2 GFLOPS 19.2 GFLOPS 38.4 GFLOPS 76.8 GFLOPS

Looking at raw FP performance tells us a lot of the story. The 545’s high clock helps it punch above its weight, but it's still significantly less powerful than the 543MP2 used in the iPad 2/mini (and it’s nothing compared to what’s in the iPad 3/4).

Tegra 3-class GPU performance may have been acceptable a year ago running Android, but it’s just too little too late today. Since Clover Trail has full backwards compatibility with older Windows applications, I can put its GPU performance in perspective. Turning to 3DMark03 and 06, we can get a good idea of the class of performance we’re looking at. For complete (and consistent) comparison points, I've tossed the W510's results into Bench so you can compare to any notebook/mobile GPU you want to there.

Futuremark 3DMark03

Futuremark 3DMark06

Compared to the old Atom platform with Intel’s GMA 3150, the PowerVR SGX 545 based GMA is around 3x faster. Even Intel's old mobile G45 graphics are actually slightly slower. Performance is still far behind everything else modern though. The GPU is more than adequate for Modern UI acceleration, but if you have secret hopes of being able to run some of your older games on Clover Trail you’ll want to stash those dreams away.

None of this is really Imagination’s fault - Intel remains generations behind in implementing competitive GPUs in its ultra mobile SoCs. Even the jump to PowerVR SGX 544MP2 next year will happen just as Apple likely moves to Img’s Series 6 (Rogue) architecture. It’s definitely a problem if you’re a silicon company that delivers slower silicon than what your customers can put together.

CPU Performance WiFi & Camera Performance
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  • Pirks - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    I noticed serious differences in user experience between Win8 tablets bought at MS retail store and elsewhere. Anand went for the worst possible scenario and got tablet stuffed with crapware instead of buying a tablet at MS store, online or retail, WITHOUT any crapware. Guys, PLEASE bear this in mind when reading this review. THIS REVIEW IS NOT, I EMPHASIZE THIS AGAIN - _NOT_ REFLECTING REAL END USER EXPERIENCE AS ENVISIONED BY MICROSOFT. In other words, standard stores AT buys its review hardware from and MS stores are DIFFERENT things.

    Please, KEEP this in mind when reading this review. It is VERY likely that you will see quite a difference between experiences using two same tablets bought in different stores, MS and non-MS one. I've seen it by own eyes when for example comparing how responsive the OS is, and how stylus works on ATIV Smart PC bought on Amazon versus the one bought in MS online store.

    In the end, if you buy hardware not in MS store and see some issues - quite likely it is now YOUR issue, not Microsoft's. MS is offering people retail and online stores to buy clean reliable crapware-free Windows hardware. If you buy elsewhere - you must be dumb. End of story.

    Anand, please consider what I said above. I am serious, no trolling or anything here. You are one of the best tech reviewers on the net. You should strive for better, so please think again where are you buying your review units in the future. PLEASE. Thank you.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    I don't believe I am even dignifying your comment by commenting on my own. Firstly, I didn't find an online MS store that would sell me a W510 in Germany. Amazon.de has that. Secondly, you say it is all worse, yet you only talk about crapware, which Anand mentions in a few paragraphs but has no bearing on his conclusion or any of the real numbers (performance, battery life...). So your post screams either "bought" or "troll" to me. Reply
  • Ned - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Ive just had confirmed that the first batch of Acer W510 optional Keyboard docks have a faulty touchpad which is fixable by any Acer service centre.
    All new batches from Acer have this now fixed.
    Also, if you have one of the original first production W510, make sure you update the BIOS which is available on the Acer website.
    Reply
  • powerarmour - Sunday, December 23, 2012 - link

    And yet again Intel fail to deliver a quality GPU driver for PowerVR series hardware, how many times will customers be forced to put up with this mess?

    The reason why a Tegra 3 is more responsive is that at least Nvidia know how to write a driver that isn't a buggy mess, even the fact that Clover Trail is x86 means little at this level of dire performance, what the hell are you going to run on it that you can't already do on a WinRT platform?
    Reply
  • agentsmithitaly - Sunday, December 23, 2012 - link

    Dear Anand
    I know it has been already already debated, but measurement units are quite inconsistent in Anandtech's articles.
    Sometimes they report both Celsius and Fahrenheit for temperatures, as well as inches and millimeters for length measurements, in this case we see imperial units for dimensions and weight comparision, dock and tablet weight in grams, millimeters for keyboard keys. Of course it's perfectly fine to express display size, or storage unit size in inches as it is the de-facto standard.

    Is it possible to have International system of units on all articles? Not only for the international visitors I'm sure Anandtech has, but also because this is technology website, which I think it could be considered as science. And scientists use metrical units, including NASA ones. You remember what happened to the Mars Climate Orbiter, right?

    Apart this, keep up the good work guys! And Merry Christmas to all!
    Reply
  • yannigr - Monday, December 24, 2012 - link

    We NEED AMD solutions. Pity AMD is for far behind. A tablet with for balanced hardware would have been great. Reply
  • zeo - Monday, December 31, 2012 - link

    Yes, though AMD is releasing the Z-60 Hondo as a stop gap for now. Being a slight update to the previous Z-01 Desna, which itself was just a more power optimized version of the C-50 Ontario.

    2013 though will see AMD's 28nm updates, with the newer Jaguar CPU cores.

    Specifically, for tablets, the upcoming 2W max TDP SoC AMD Tamesh will be their first serious entry into the tablet market and we'll see then how they compare.

    For now, the Hondo is at least a option for those who don't mind limited run time but want 3x better graphics than Clover Trail, which also puts it above Tegra 3 graphical performance, and full 64bit and better Linux support.

    At 1GHz though, don't expect better CPU performance...
    Reply
  • OBLAMA2009 - Monday, December 24, 2012 - link

    i think all these windows 8 tablet/notebook thingies will be a huge fail. carrying something with all these parts isnt more convenient that just using different devices or using chromeos and doing things in the cloud. atom is a seriously damaged brand name because of low performance and this new stuff doesnt change that. finally the prices for stuff like this are ridiculous. were used to paying $350 for laptops, we arent going to pay $600 for stuff a tenth as good Reply
  • zeo - Monday, December 31, 2012 - link

    First, there aren't that many parts and overall it is more convenient to carry one device than multiple... especially, if your actual usage favors tablet usage most of the time.

    Second, people have being paying such prices for iPads for years, a lot more when you consider the cost of peripherals, and ARM has only recently gotten around the performance range of a ATOM!

    Tablets are typically higher priced than laptops, though Ultrabooks puts a premium that lessens the difference a bit.

    People though have and will pay for the convenience of mobility, which laptops can only be considered to be portable but not truly mobile. While tablets can provide mobile usage, along with hybrids and other solutions retaining most, if not all, of the benefits of laptops as well.

    It's just that there's always compromise when going smaller and lighter, and no solution is perfect for everyone! Along with it yet being determined what size the actual market will be, as these are first gen Windows based devices and many are just waiting for the pro and second gen products.

    So it's comparing apples to oranges with tablets and laptops, different solution for people with different needs!

    Btw, even Chromebooks require a certain level of performance. Cloud doesn't run everything and you can't always have a high speed connection, which is one of the reasons why Chrome OS has a native client and support for hardware acceleration!

    The Cloud isn't that reliable yet either and not everything can be replaced by Cloud apps yet. Though such services are getting better and help alleviate the limitations of these mobile devices.
    Reply
  • mhaager2 - Monday, December 24, 2012 - link

    I don't really understand all the negativity towards Win RT and the Surface RT in particular. We have an iPad3, a nexus 7, and now a surface RT in our house. Hands down I like my Surface RT the best. It is by far the best of all in terms of productivity. I like the OS a lot. Its stable, responsive, and a pleasure to use. I like the touch cover a lot. I can type well enough on it to be useful without being a hassle to lug around. I have never experienced lag with it yet.
    Could MS improve the Surface? Of course. A higher DPI screen would be nice. A faster CPU is always nice. A lower price would be nice. Still despite all of this I still find this the most useful tablet I have used. As far as the paucity of apps goes, I think having half a million apps in your app store means a LOT of redundancy. MS is missing some key apps for me unfortunately which means I can't go to Win8 phone yet but as long as they keep adding quality apps I think this is the platform for me going forward.
    Reply

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