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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  • strangis - Thursday, December 20, 2012 - link

    "Which means nothing, as these mobile chips are too underpowered to actually run the desktop x86 applications"

    My ATIV 500 painting an 11x17 300dpi multilayer image in Sketchbook Pro with the active digitizer smoothly disagrees with your assumption.

    Just saying.
    Reply
  • Wolfpup - Thursday, January 03, 2013 - link

    Of COURSE they run desktop programs. They run Firefox, OpenOffice (and older versions of MS Office you might already own), media tools, IM clients, all SORTS of things that aren't available or even possible on other platforms.

    No, it won't reasonably run Skyrim, but there's a ton that it will run.

    Personally I think this is pretty awesome...you get a good for the form factor CPU that oh yeah, happens to actually be compatible with what you have, and the price is the same as ARM stuff.

    What's bad is the GPU...seems like they have almost a 2009 smartphone GPU in there rather than something more appropriate for 2013...and then there's the issue that metro is locked down, not a real PC...but then that's why you want an x86 tablet to begin with...at least you get the real desktop and in that mode it's a real PC.
    Reply
  • jeffkro - Thursday, December 20, 2012 - link

    Basically for tablets and phones I prefer the android "library" so intel/windows really isn't for me anyways. Reply
  • SM123456 - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - link

    Yes, but Microsoft has to use a x86 CPU if they are to be able run Windows apps.

    Basically this device and all other Windows 8 tablets under $600 are grossly overpriced netbooks with touch added and a keyboard taken away.

    The $199 Acer C7 Chromebook with its 1.1 GHz dual core Celeron processor is at least twice as fast as this thing.
    Reply
  • Dribble - Thursday, December 20, 2012 - link

    So we have windows RT that is optimised both around the ARM cpu's and tablets. There is no old software - everything that you can get for it should both run fine on tegra 3 and work well with a small touch screen. This means stuff should just work well - this is what apple do so well, and MS are trying to emulate.

    On the other hand there is full windows. Now the reason to get this not RT is backwards compatibility. Most *old* windows apps require higher performance cpu's (e.g core i3) a big screen, a mouse and a keyboard. They don't use touch at all.

    Taking that into account an atom tablet has a screen that's too small, a cpu that's too slow and a bad mouse/keyboard experience - sure you could plug both in but then it's not really a tablet any longer is it? Also all that backward compatibility support uses effectively a different ui - it's not a clean and polished single interface. Stuff won't just work well - the experience won't be as good.

    Hence if you want full windows you'd be much better off with a laptop/ultra book - they are still touch screen so you get any touch benefits but they have much faster cpu's, better keyboard, etc.
    Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, December 20, 2012 - link

    Not sure where you got that idea from. 99% of windows applications dont hardly use any cpu at all. Check task manager sometime. You will notice that most processes only consume a few seconds of cpu time per hour of system idle time. It is extremely rare for a windows application to peg even one cpu core to 100%. Reply
  • freedom4556 - Thursday, December 20, 2012 - link

    You that that's a percentage and it depends on what CPU you're looking at right? That's like saying, "Yeah, I never need more than 1% of my horsepower even doing 150mph uphill in a headwind." when you drive a Lamborghini. Try it again in a Honda and you'll not even be able to do it, nevermind 100% usage.

    Do you have an i7 or an Atom?
    Reply
  • B3an - Thursday, December 20, 2012 - link

    One thing that stood out to me in this article, is the bugs/reboots you encountered. You pretty much blamed them on Win 8, or made it sound that way. Which i thought was unprofessional, especially for you Anand. As theres a very good chance they're to do with a particular app, drivers on this device, or even it's hardware. Win 8 is a very solid stable OS, even more so than Win 7 on release. Reply
  • ltcommanderdata - Thursday, December 20, 2012 - link

    True. But hasn't it always been the case that app and driver instability gets fairly or unfairly associated with Windows? At the same time, when things are working well, Microsoft is happy if you think of yourself as enjoying a "Windows" PC or tablet regardless of what particular software or hardware you are using in/on Windows. I guess we'll have to see how common problems are with other CloverTrail tablets. If they show up in CloverTrail tablets from other manufacturers, then even if the underlying OS is stable it still becomes Microsoft's problem if people are having trouble developing reliable apps/drivers/tablet using it. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, December 20, 2012 - link

    The issue is these were first party apps developed by MS, and I've seen some evidence of the same on other non-W510 platforms (I just don't remember this being the case with Surface RT but I've been using these x86 platforms longer than I did Surface).

    I'm curious to read Vivek's take on the ATIV Smart PC to see if it mirrors my experience.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply

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