A Faster Tegra 3, More Memory Bandwidth

As its new Android tablet flagship, ASUS selected the fastest Tegra 3 SoC NVIDIA is offering today: the T33. Architecturally similar to the rest of the Tegra 3 lineup, the T33 is simply a higher leakage part running at a higher voltage to hit higher clock speeds. Whereas the original T30 used in the Transformer Prime ran at a nominal voltage of 1.15V, the T33 runs at 1.237V. CPU clocks can now reach 1.7GHz with a single core active, or 1.6GHz otherwise.

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

ASUS continues to expose control over the CPU governer through its Performance, Balanced and Power Saving modes exposed in ICS. In general, the balanced mode really does deliver nearly max performance (1.5 - 1.6GHz) while power saving significantly clamps CPU clock speeds (1GHz) and is more conservative with ramping up CPU clock to that max. Despite offering support for up to 1.7GHz operation, I typically saw 1.6GHz as a max even in performance mode.

SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark 0.9.1

Rightware BrowserMark

The higher clocked CPU does deliver a tangible performance improvement over the Transformer Prime, and definitely over the original Transformer if you look at the BrowserMark results.

Although GPU clocks remain unchanged, in order to drive the higher resolution panel ASUS outfitted the Infinity with DDR3-1600. If I'm reading the part numbers on the DRAM devices used in previous models it looks like there's a significant increase in memory bandwidth this generation:

ASUS Transformer Memory Choices
  TF Prime TF Pad 300 TF Pad Infinity
Memory Capacity 1GB 1GB 1GB
Memory Type DDR2-500 DDR3-667 DDR3-1600
Memory Bandwidth 2.0GB/s 2.7GB/s 6.4GB/s

Remember NVIDIA's Tegra 3 only has a single channel memory interface, so frequency is the only option for increasing memory bandwidth. The increase in bandwidth does make scrolling and most UI interactions fairly smooth, although you will see dropped frames from time to time. I must say I'm fairly impressed by how well ASUS/NVIDIA were able to pull off smoothness without a significant hardware update. It's worth pointing out that the experience is far from perfect though. Even ICS is rough around the edges when it comes to delivering consistent UI performance on a tablet. Google is expected to address this with Jelly Bean but it's something to keep in mind for those buying in the near future. Granted by the time the Infinity is actually available, Jelly Bean may have already launched. As ASUS is widely expected to be a launch partner on Jelly Bean, I wonder if that means TF Pad Infinity owners will get a swift update.

The Display GPU Performance


View All Comments

  • carneyjo - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    I love the newest iPad, but I cannot deny this product looks amazing. I may just have to own both an Android and iOS tablet! On a side note, the two aforementioned tablets both blow away Surface. Not impressed with it at all. Reply
  • MichaelD - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    1. "It doesn't run Windows 8", but will it run Win7?

    2. The durability of these tablets concerns me. What kind of material covers the screen? My Adroid smartphone (Motorola Atrix) has Corning Gorilla Glass over it and after more than a year there's not a scratch on it. You would think tablet manufacturers would want to make them as durable as possible...this Gorilla Glass is really awesome stuff.
  • DeciusStrabo - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    It's covered by glossy Gorilla Glass, like 90% of mobile devices with a big exposed screen. Reply
  • crankerchick - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    Wow, I don't take Anand for an iPad fanboy in the least. Perhaps this article lacks the zeal of the iPad review, but that alone doesn't make someone a fanboy. I think he still presents balanced reviews of other devices, even if his preference is to the iPad.

    Don't act like the display on the iPad isn't amazing. The results right in this article show that the new iPad display bests the TF Infinity display in color gamut and color accuracy, and other reviews of the TF Infinity (there's aren't many yet of course), say that display also goes to the crapper outdoors.

    I have the new iPad as I was tired of waiting for the TF Infinity, but I am still anxiously awaiting the TF Infinity release as I would very much like to leave the walled garden land of no external storage, more costly devices that do less, 4:3 silliness, and no background updating of apps. But I won't do that if the browsing experience isn't improved in Android between Jelly Bean and the hardware of the Prime--especially not when the tablet app space on Android is awful (compared to iOS) so more time is spent on the browser.

    Perhaps some of you with the TF Prime can weigh in, but my experience with the browser for scrolling and entering text in forms (like typing in forums) has been less than stellar on my XOOM, slightly improved with Chrome and Android 4.0, but still not as smooth and fluid as the iPad even with the TF Prime.

    Everything about Android is better for me, but first and foremost I use the tablet to browse the web, play an occasional game, and waste time with social networking. It's not a business tool for me--that's what my laptop and/or desktop is for and I don't desire to have my tablet take it's place. Right now, the iPad works better for me at delivering a consistently smooth vehicle for media consumption but I really want the TF Infinity to take this title because I so want to come back to Android even with it's crappy tablet appspace.

    A video review (or even text comparison) of the browser and text input experience on the TF Infinity versus the new iPad would MUCH APPRECIATED. *ahem* Anand are you listening? I will pay money for this since it saves me from having to BUY both and return/sell one!
  • smartypnt4 - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    I am right there with you. I went ahead and got an iPad 3 because I was tired of waiting for this to release.

    I would VERY much like to had expandable storage on a laptop, and a wider screen for watching the videos on said expandable storage. And I want widgets. I have a Nexus One and the widgets on it are wonderful.

    That said, the iPad 3 is a GREAT device for stuff like internet browsing and especially reading. I'd be interested to see if the apps for reading like Kindle and Nook have gotten good enough to be as fluid as iBooks on the iPad.

    And yes, a video review or a regular review comparing the finer points between the two would be so incredibly helpful.

    In essence: +1 to everything you said.
  • dwade123 - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    Performance: slower than iPad
    Screen: worse than iPad
    Software: less than iPad
    Overall: inferior to iPad
  • andrewaggb - Monday, June 25, 2012 - link

    lol. Well when you put it like that :-)

    The argument over the the screen is that ipad3 screen is overkill and you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between 1920x1200 and 2048x1536 in a 10" device.

    And software is debatable :-). I don't think there is much remarkable about iOS ... or Android. I think Win8 has the most interesting software stack, but surface is already behind on the hardware curve and app selection will be low initially. And if you go x86, then you might rather just get a win8 ultrabook.

    The Transformer also has connectors though, like hdmi, usb, sd. And a real keyboard dock, (if you can find a use for it).
  • Belard - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    True... to some extent. But Apple wanted to keep the aspect ratio a standard... It makes things easier for their developers. still, the screen resolution isn't as good.

    A more complete list:

    CPU Performance = Worse than iPad 2 / 3
    Screen resolution = Worse than iPad3
    GPU performance = Worse than iPad3 / 2 (Which is over a year old)
    Battery life = Worse than iPad3 / 2
    Software = Worse than Worse than iPad3 / 2 /1
    Price = No better than iPad 3.

    Runs Android = WIN!

    So far, it looks like the Windows8/RT whatever will also be WORSE in all areas.
  • Lepton87 - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    CPU performance = better than iPad
    GPU performance = worse than iPad
    Screen= you if like 4:3 than Ipad but if you like 16:10 than definitely TPI

    Personally I prefer 16:10 to 4:3 aspect ratio because of that I would prefer TPI screen to the ipad screen
  • Belard - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    Er... no. The browser test was faster on the ASUS... not by much. The spider test hits the CPU harder.... and the iPad 2 & 3 were easily faster.

    Yes, I and others prefer the 4:3 screen. I tend to use it in portrait mode, like a book... rather than watch videos. Again, if you are INTO videos... and you need a VIDEO player... then you DON'T need a full blown OS to watch videos, play music and browse the web.

    Hence, the $1000 over-priced slate-thingy will crash and burn like it has for the past 12 years.

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