We like CloverTrail. It’s the only connected-standby capable X86 platform on the market and it blows every other Windows-capable platform out of the water when it comes to battery life but in terms of processing power it’s not quite enough to satisfy most people on a day-to-day basis. I’ve recently been testing AMD Temash and with about 2X the all-round processing performance it’s enough to satisfy most people. It’s efficient, but unfortunately you lose that CS-capability, the mark of an energy efficient Windows platform. At the top end of the efficiency-focused platforms are the Intel Core U processors used in Ultrabooks. They’re expensive and don’t offer CS capability but if its processing power you want, they are the king.
I took three devices based on each of these platforms and ran some tests to try and get some sort of guideline performance differential between the three and I’ve come up with 1:2:5. Where Clovertrial 1.8Ghz is the baseline, AMD Temash (high-end A6-1450) comes in at around 2X the processing power and a high-end Intel Core i7 at 2.0-3.2Ghz will hit 5X the performance of Clovertrail. Obviously these figures will vary across different tests and system builds but after running a number of tests, this is a ratio I’m happy to use as a guideline.
Peacekeeper, the browser performance test, is a good example as it addresses one of the most common usage scenarios for a PC. In the tests above (done with Chrome) you can see that 1:2:5 ratio showing up. (1:1.6:6 in this case) In a Floating point test I saw 1:2:5 and in Cinebench, 1:2:5. The Sunspider ratio was 1:1.4:6.3. The average across all the tests I performed was 1:1.9:5.1
In two days we’ll have another platform to consider. Intel’s 4th-Gen Core, aka Haswell, will eventually offer sub-10W parts (timescale unknown) with CS capability and a performance ratio that probably fits into the 4X range. In Q4 we’ll see BayTrail that will offer lower TDP and something like 2X the current Clovertrail performance seen here. Again it will be CS capable. From AMD we also need to consider Kabini, the higher-clocked, and higher TDP version of Temash although that’s really only for laptops and Ultrabook-alternatives.
Performance ratio of mobile Windows 8 capable platforms (guideline.)
Clearly for Ultra Mobile PC fans looking to 2014, the BayTrail, Temash and low-TDP Haswell parts will be the most important and with BayTrail offering connected-standby, that’s the one that could work best in your next Windows 8.1 handheld.
Back to today though, here’s a (long) video showing three devices on three platforms with commentary and some visual indicators of performance.
For some people it’s more important to be mobile with all-day, all-scenario capability at the expense of processing power or speed. For others, the most important thing is to be able to carry desktop power. Intel Atom and Intel Core separate these two areas of computing cleanly but how big is the difference in platform performance? I took the chance to test the Acer W510 alongside an Ultrabook convertible â€“ the Lenovo Thinkpad Twist. Both devices have strengths, and weaknesses.
A copy of this article also appears on our sister site, Ultrabooknews.
We focus on Ultrabooks here but also keep a close track on what’s happening in the ultra mobile PC space through our work with UMPCPortal. For some people it’s more important to be mobile with all-day, all-scenario capability at the expense of processing power or speed. For others, the most important thing is to be able to carry desktop power and that’s where a Core-based Utrabook comes in. But how big is the difference in platform performance? I’ve had a Atom-Clovertrail based tablet convertible for a few weeks now and so I took the chance to test it alongside an Ultrabook convertible – the Lenovo Thinkpad Twist. Both devices have strengths, and weaknesses.
The more I test Intel Sandy-Bridge based systems the more I am becoming convinced that laptop silicon will eventually extend as a high-dynamic-range platform into to ultra-mobile PCs and tablets. The reason is that the new laptop platforms are using advanced processes and techniques and are extremely efficient at getting things done. ‘Hurry Up Get Idle’ is a simple concept that means if you can get the same job done quickly, you can turn off or idle a pc and thus reduce the power used. The area under the power curve is smaller.
In practice, its difficult to make HUGI work because a lot of the tasks we do are either very short, can only work as fast as a human can input or rely on data coming from other sources. PC’s aren’t very good at idling either but from my recent video editing tests, I can see that there’s at least one scenario where it works very well.
The problem with getting laptop silicon into a handheld product is the thermals. Intel leads the way in this market and their products provide plenty of thermal monitoring and control but it will take a little bit more than what is currently on offer to be able to easily design and produce a 7″, tablet running a laptop-style processor. It’s been done before though. Samsung, experts in electrical engineering, produced a 7″ Tablet running a 1.3Ghz Core Solo but that was at a time when there was no competition from ARM-based devices, $1200 tablets were common and there wasn’t an Atom processor around. The latest tablet example would be the Eee Slate EP121 and for a 1.06KG laptop, the Samsung 900X1A gets close but that’s a little larger and heavier than a handheld device should be.
As silicon processes get better though and thermal control, dedicated silicon and single-chip solutions become more common, you can expect both Intel and AMD to try to offer the ultimate processing power in the handheld space. You can expect these products to have premium prices and to be targeted at niche markets but with Windows 8 as a catalyst and competition increasing from the latest ARM designs, offering these niche product is one way that the X86 chip makers can retain an advantage and one way manufacturers can differentiate their products.
Although Intels ‘Core’ products rarely reach down into our mobility segment here on UMPCPortal, I attended the launch of the second-gen Core CPUs at CES today to get some idea of what technologies could be coming down the road and how it might affect the positioning for Atom-based products.
Before the main announcements this morning though, Paul Otellini took a few minutes to talk about other products in the Intel portfolio. Two of those apply here.
Firstly, 100 new atom-based netbooks and tablets will launch in the first half of this year. Secondly, Paul announced that Meego and smartphone product announcements will be made at MWC in Barcelona. That’s in about 5 weeks.
The Core architecture of CPU+Graphics+Memory controller on one piece of silicon is being echoed in the Atom world and one of the main messages today was that on-chip graphics can be as good as discreet graphics and that over the last 4 years, the solutions have got 25x more powerful. Unfortunately we’re not told how much that affects power ratings. I have no details of the ultra-low power versions of these CPUs but there was no mention of this in the press conference so it’s probably fair to say that the first wave of 2nd-gen Core products won’t be anything for even high-end netbook, tablet or ultra mobile PC devices. The performance gap above Atom and below Core is getting very big now!
We saw an interesting content delivery product being announced today that could potentially make it to Atom. Intel Insider. This isn’t a store concept like AppUp but a silicon-based security solution that is giving film studios the confidence to deliver early release HD content to PCs. We already know that Atom is 1080p-capable so it would make a lot of sense to bring Intel Insider to Atom. It’s a closed-wall delivery mechanism which some people won’t like but it could help bring badly-needed content to Intel-based tablets and netbooks. We could potentially see the technology being used by AppUp too.
Wireless Display got a boost with the announcement of the 2nd generation of the product. It now includes 1080p support. I’m hoping that this reaches Atom platforms because cables and small, mobile devices don’t go together so in my opinion, Atom products need this technology more than the laptops and desktops.
The netbook and tablet platforms slipped behind a bit today leaving a huge gap in terms of performance. I hope we’ll hear something very soon that addresses this, especially at the performance end of the ultra-mobile market.