SoCs and Graphics

Intel isn’t talking about implementations of Silvermont today other than to say that it will show up in smartphones (Merrifield), tablets (Baytrail), automotive (unannounced), communications infrastructure products (Rangeley) and microservers (Avoton). Baytrail, the tablet implementation of Silvermont, will be available by the end of this year running both Windows 8 (8.1/Blue?) and Android. Silvermont based Merrifield phones will show up early in 2014.

What we know about Baytrail is that it will be a quad-core implementation of Silvermont paired with Intel’s own Gen 7 graphics. Although we don’t know clock speeds, we do know that Baytrail’s GPU core will feature 4 EUs - 1/4 the number used in Ivy Bridge’s Gen7 implementation (Intel HD 4000). Ultimately we can’t know how fast the GPU will be until we know clock speeds, but I wouldn’t be too surprised to see something at or around where the iPad 4’s GPU is today. Given Intel’s recent announcements around Iris and Iris Pro, it’s clear that the mobile team hasn’t yet had the graphics wakeup call that the Core team just got - but I suspect the Atom group will get there sooner rather than later. Intel’s eDRAM approach to scaling Haswell graphics (and CPU) performance has huge implications in mobile. I wouldn’t expect eDRAM enabled mobile SoCs based on Silvermont, but I wouldn’t be too surprised to see something at 14nm.

Penryn-Class Performance

When Atom first came out, I put its CPU performance in perspective by comparing it to older Pentium M based notebooks. It turned out that a 1.6GHz Atom performed similarly to a 1.2GHz Pentium M. So how does Silvermont stack up in PC notebook terms?

On single threaded performance, you should expect a 2.4GHz Silvermont to perform like a 1.2GHz Penryn. To put it in perspective of actual systems, we’re talking about around the level of performance of an 11-inch Core 2 Duo MacBook Air from 2010. Keep in mind, I’m talking about single threaded performance here. In heavily threaded applications, a quad-core Silvermont should be able to bat even further up the Penryn line. Intel is able to do all of this with only a 2-wide machine (lower IPC, but much higher frequency thanks to 22nm).

There’s no doubt in my mind that a Baytrail Android tablet will deliver amazing performance, the real unknown is whether or not a Baytrail Windows 8 detachable/convertible will be fast enough to deliver a good enough legacy Windows experience. I suspect it’ll take Airmont before we really get there by my standards, but it’ll be close this round for sure.

What’ll really be interesting to see is how Silvermont fares in smartphones. Max clock speeds should be lower than what’s possible in a tablet, but not by all that much thanks to good power management. When viewed in that light, I don’t know that there’s a more exciting mobile architecture announced at this point. The ability to deliver 2010 11-inch MacBook Air performance in a phone is insane.

The Silvermont Module and Caches Tablet Expectations & Performance


View All Comments

  • Ortanon - Monday, May 06, 2013 - link

    This. Reply
  • jamesb2147 - Monday, May 06, 2013 - link

    That's not an excuse for subjective fluff. Don't get me wrong, I particularly liked the Bulldozer performance reviews and analysis. The reason I liked them was the hard data used to develop ideas about possible use-case scenarios for the CPU's. This article is full of "IT'S GONNA BE AWESUMMMMMM!!!!!1!!!" and not so much nuanced, objective reporting on actual news. It has plenty of analysis, but without concrete evidence, it reads like one of those all-too-familiar forum rants from HardForum or the like, full of people with too much time and not enough to do.

    If Anandtech is evolving into one of those news outlets that has to keep writing articles to keep people engaged, then I'm not interested. And it's not just my loss, it's the readership's.
  • wsw1982 - Tuesday, May 07, 2013 - link

    if the clover trail+ already has similar performance as the best ARM offer, and the silvermont is said to be 2 times better than clover trail+. What should be the most logic sentiment in your opinion? Reply
  • phoenix_rizzen - Tuesday, May 07, 2013 - link

    Well, you're comparing some future Intel SoC that no one has been allowed to actually touch/test (using only Intel's internal "benchmarking") against currently available ARM SoCs. Who knows what the performance will be like for ARM SoCs in 8-12 months, when these Intel SoCs are actually, physically able to be benchmarked.

    Cautious optimism is warranted. Not flat-out "OMG, THIS IS THE BESTEST EVAR!" fluff like this article spouts.
  • Spunjji - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 - link

    Restrained optimism and a desire for further evidence. I can only assume Anand has already seen more than us, as his attitude is somewhat more positive than that. If he hasn't, well, I have expressed the opinion before that I find he treats Intel press releases rather lightly. Reply
  • cjb110 - Tuesday, May 07, 2013 - link

    tbh that's an OTT response, AnandTech have done a piece based on the info they have and their previous experience. Everything mentioned is reasoned out in a logical progression. You might not always agree with the reasoning but its most certainly isn't 'fluff'. There will be a data based analysis later, as always. Reply
  • Krysto - Monday, May 06, 2013 - link

    But not entirely unbiased. Making a detailed analysis and being biased aren't mutually exclusive. Reply
  • Krysto - Monday, May 06, 2013 - link

    See (apple fanboi doing "indepth analysis" about Android and other competitors.. Guess what? They usually favor Apple). Reply
  • Homeles - Monday, May 06, 2013 - link

    I doubt there's a single human being on the face of the planet that is unbiased. What's your point? Reply
  • Thrill92 - Tuesday, May 07, 2013 - link

    Oh no, your going to have to do some critical thinking about the data and conclusions in media. What ever will you do? Reply

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