Tegra 3 GPU: Making Honeycomb Buttery Smooth

The bigger impact on the overall experience is the Tegra 3's GPU. If you remember back to our initial analysis of Tegra 3 you'll know that the GPU is not only clocked higher but it also has more execution resources at its disposal. To further improve performance, per "core" efficiency is up thanks to some larger internal data structures and tweaks. The end result is much better gaming performance as well as a much smoother UI.

Tasks like bringing up the apps launcher or even swiping between home screens are finally far above 30 fps. While Tegra 2 didn't have the fill rate to deal with some of the more complex overlays in Honeycomb, Tegra 3 does. The move to Tegra 3 makes the Honeycomb experience so much better. This is what it should've been like from the start.

Gaming performance is also significantly better as you can see from our standard collection of Android GPU benchmarks:

GLBenchmark 2.1 - Egypt - Offscreen 720p

GLBenchmark 2.1 - Pro - Offscreen 720p

BaseMark ES2.0 - Hover (1024 x 768)

BaseMark ES2.0 - Taiji (1024 x 768)

Performance is still not quite up to par with the iPad 2, but if we look at GLBenchmark's Egypt test Tegra 3 doesn't do too bad. The gap grows in more texture bound tests but in a heavier shader environment Tegra 3 isn't too shabby. While it's clear that Tegra 2 wasn't enough to deal with the 1280 x 752 resolution of Honeycomb tablets, Tegra 3 seems well matched.

Note that the BaseMark ES2.0 tests run at FP16 on Tegra 2 and 3 vs. FP24 on the PowerVR SGX 543MP2.

CPU Performance The Display: Perfect


View All Comments

  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    It actually feels really good. Hold it one handed in landscape mode and you'll get tired quickly, use it in portrait and prop it up on your chest and it's golden. It's not too big and heavy but you just need to prop it up against something for extended use.

    Take care,
  • Sabresiberian - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    Still sounds awkward to me.

    This is the kind of thing that intrigues me though, when it comes to "tablets". I'm one of those people that doesn't get the tablet thing, but I'm curious. This would be a good way for me to try one out, if I had a spare $600+ anyway. Which I don't right now. I could check out the tablet, and use it as a netbook/ultrabook if I didn't like the tablet option.

    Coolz toyz will grab us by the privates, even when we know better. Or think we do.

  • ltcommanderdata - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link


    According to nVidia's documentation, Tegra 2's GPU only supported FP20 in the pixel shaders. Has this been improved in the Tegra 3? I believe at least FP24 is required to officially support DirectX 9, so remaining at FP20 would presumably prevent Tegra 3 from being supported in Windows 8. Unless Microsoft intends to make an exception?
  • Reikon - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    "The X button acts as a tap/click on an icon (yes, NVIDIA managed to pick a button that's not what Sony or Microsoft use as the accept button - I guess it avoids confusion or adds more confusion depending on who you ask)."

    I'm not sure I'm reading it correctly, but Sony actually uses X as the accept button. It's just not in the same place as the one on that Logitech controller.
  • Ric_Margiotta - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the detailed write up, Anand! I'm looking forward to picking up a Prime when they reach the UK in January. Reply
  • ATOmega - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    Thanks for getting the review out so quickly! Still hoping to hear more about GPS, but I realize it's tough to fit it all through in such a small window.

    I recently sold my iPad2 to cover some of the cost of pre-ordering this tablet. My biggest frustration to date has been having no viable Android tablet to date and being forced to us iOS in the meantime. I've never felt so emasculated by an operating system!

    By most measures, it looks like the Transformer Prime is consistently equal if not slightly better in most regards to the iPad2. Bearing in mind that it runs at a higher resolution when comparing performance numbers.

    I have to agree, anyone who has been on the fence over Android tablets can probably come down now. It will be a year at the very least until we see a similar combination of build quality, screen quality, performance, consistency, etc... for Android again.
  • steven75 - Saturday, December 03, 2011 - link

    Now you get to feel emasculated by lack of software. Reply
  • ismailfaruqi - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    Anand, does Tegra 3 support OpenCL already? Reply
  • Loki726 - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    nope, not yet Reply
  • ismailfaruqi - Thursday, December 01, 2011 - link

    thanks, it seems so. How about ipad2's powervr? Reply

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