SAN JOSE, Calif. – Intel claimed its latest tablet SoC outperforms the Nvidia Tegra 3 while consuming less power. On another mobile front, the x86 giant will show Haswell Ultrabooks at the Consumer Electronics Show and discuss a sub-10W variant.
Intel’s Clover Trail, a dual-core Atom SoC for tablets, consumes as much as a half a watt less that Tegra 3 on some tasks, Intel told a group of analysts recently. In particular, the Imagination Technologies graphics block on Clover Trail eats less energy than the rival Nvidia block, the company said.
“The tablet performance is as good with Clover Trail as with ARM SoCs if not better and now the surprising thing is they are using less power,” said Nathan Brookwood, principal of market watcher Insight64 (Saratoga, Calif.). “I’ve always been a little critical of that Atom core because I think they went a little too far in emphasizing power savings, but even so Clover Trial is beating Tegra 3."
Intel compared a Windows 8 tablet using Clover Trail with a Microsoft Surface tablet running Windows RT on Tegra 3. The systems were hooked up to meters measuring consumption on the processors’ power rails on a variety of jobs.
The Nvidia chip uses four main and one helper core. Brookwood said Windows RT does not use the helper core as extensively as Android. Intel did not show Clover Trail’s performance running Android.
In the second half of 2013, Intel will roll out Bay Trail which is expected to use the first out-of-order Atom cores to bolster performance. It will also roll out Haswell, a new 22-nm PC processor geared for a variety of systems including ultrabooks.
Intel “hasn’t given up on Ultrabooks by any means,” despite sluggish market uptake to date, said Brookwood.
“They are convinced ultrabooks represent a journey,” Brookwood said. “They haven’t been able to quite deliver all the features and form factors they wanted to yet, but they think Haswell will give them the muscle they need” and better than all-day battery life, he added.
Intel is expected to show at CES a reference design using a Haswell chip that consumes less than 10W and fits into an Ultrabook as thin as an Apple iPad.
Separately, Intel demoed its Medfield chip running in Android smartphones, outperforming Qualcomm and Nvidia chips in some cases while having similar battery life. “The problem Intel faces is they have no hope of the U.S. market due to their lack of LTE support--that forces them to focus just on Asia and Europe,” he said.
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