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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  • MonkeyPaw - Friday, December 21, 2012 - link

    I sampled the 32GB version not long ago.There was no recovery partition (they give you 4 DVDs), but when it's all said and done, about half the space is consumed by the base install. Once you add a modest selection of media and a few MS apps (which can be rather large), you are looking at a few GB of free space remaining. Reply
  • skiboysteve - Friday, December 21, 2012 - link

    Do people really need the installed paid for versions of office? The free online web apps are completely amazing. Way way better than google docs... They are just about full versions of office. Only thing I could think of is for airplane trips Reply
  • zeo - Monday, December 31, 2012 - link

    Only the RT version has Office included by default, and it's the more basic Home and Student 2013 RT version, regular W8 depends on the system maker as to whether a copy of Office will be included or not... Like, I believe, Lenovo offers full Office with the Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet 2 for example.

    RT though is a bit stripped down from W8 and so is a bit smaller install than regular W8/Pro, even with Office included.

    Regular W8 tablets though are suppose to start with 64GB drives, they just offer 32GB for lower entry price point and it's only the RT tablets that are suppose to start with 32GB.

    This is mainly due to the pricing structure used by most tablet makers, most charge for capacity even though the actual capacity doesn't cost the price difference. Like the $249 Nexus 7 doesn't cost $50 more than the $199 Nexus 7 to add that extra capacity, but this is how they improve their profit margins when offering higher specs and can afford to lower profit margins for the lower spec versions.

    All Windows tablets though should offer Micro/SD, though for now you can't install apps anywhere but the main drive but you can put just about everything else on the memory card for extra capacity.

    While higher end tablets should offer drives up to 128GB and some will offer hard drives in the docks, like the Asus Vivo Book has a 500GB HDD in the keyboard dock.
    Reply
  • CaptchaIsEvil - Friday, December 21, 2012 - link

    So this is what it's like to depend on far flung "OEMs" to build a product that will attract an audience.

    MS is depending on OEMs who use weak drivers resulting in poor user experience and that build substandard hardware.

    Just like with Android, Samsung will be the only OEM to step up to the plate and dedicate the resources to compete in the big leagues. It won't be Acer and it won't be the commoditizers at HP or DELL (parts bin assemblers).

    MS better hope it happens soon.
    Reply
  • zeo - Monday, December 31, 2012 - link

    Weak drivers are a issue, but Intel will be moving back to a GMA based on their own technology instead of Imagination's with the 22nm ATOM updates.

    There may still be some driver issues but support for their own hardware is much better and we'll see a return of full 64bit and Linux support.

    The actual GMA is suppose to be based on the Ivy Bridge HD4000, just scaled down from 16 execution units to 4, and that should mean better developed drivers from the start as well.

    It'll just be either late Q3 or around Q4 2013 until we see products based on the update start to come out.
    Reply
  • nofumble62 - Friday, December 21, 2012 - link

    fast, run everything, and have lot of storage.

    Tablet is a fad, and will fade away.
    Reply
  • kyuu - Friday, December 21, 2012 - link

    How's the weather over there in Denial Land? Reply
  • nofumble62 - Friday, December 21, 2012 - link

    Great- warm and toasty over my i7-3770.
    In the drawer, there is an iPad3 and a Kindle Fire. They are nice to play with for a short while, but I am now back to my 24" IPS and keyboards.
    Reply
  • aliasfox - Sunday, December 23, 2012 - link

    And here's the alternate scenario: I'm on my iPad1 At my parents' house, and after the second day of regular use I'm still at 42% battery life, and I'm doing the same thing as you, commenting on a forum.

    Is it slow as heck? Yes. Is it useful for a whole lot besides for web surfing, videos, and short writing like this? No, not really. Is web surfing, videos, and short writing like this a significant portion of my daily web life? Yes. Do I appreciate the fact that I can get two and a half days of usable battery life in a package about half the weight of an ultrabook? Absolutely. Have regretted I buying and using this for the past two and a half years? Aside from abysmal resale value, not at all.

    My Mac Pro doesn't get much use besides for Netflix watching on my TV, so for my usage scenario, I'm cool with a tablet. I'll throw in shipping cost if you want to send me your iPad3 though, I'll give it a good home.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Saturday, December 22, 2012 - link

    Hey!
    Good article. Just wanted to say that the charger connector is pretty much similar (the same?) my Travelmate 8172 has (just in white whereas mine is in black). On that charger, I can use it to set the orientation of the charger, it helps in crowded sockets. And guess it might save Acer a few cents of cost. Anyway, I like it a lot. :D
    Reply

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