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Results: Video Playback

Update: Intel Expands Our Battery Testing At CES 2013

Video: Iron Man

One thing that perpetually bothers me about battery life results generated from video playback workloads, is that they're rarely put into context. Modern SoCs include fixed-function hardware dedicated to decoding. So, a tablet’s run time while watching a movie is heavily dependent on that logic specifically. When we start measuring power consumption in this scenario, we can’t expect correlation with the previous two pages.

And indeed, the Surface doesn’t fare as badly when we play back a transcoded copy of Iron Man using the Windows 8 UI Video app.

Samsung’s implementation of the APQ8060A looks particularly strong, dipping as low as half of a watt less than the ATIV Tab’s Atom Z2760 at certain points. The lines overlap quite a bit, so it’s hard to tell, but the logged numbers show Dell’s XPS 10 using less power than the Atom much of the time, too.

This prompts the question: why do two platforms based on the same SoC demonstrate different battery power behaviors? Aside from the fact that other disparate hardware choices affect consumption, each vendor is able to tune its tablet uniquely for performance or battery life. When dealing with closed-box consumer electronics, you cannot assume that two devices based on the same components will yield identical numbers.

YouTube: Gangnam Style

As if to underscore why one video playback test won’t be indicative of another, we fully cached Gangnam Style on YouTube and logged power use as it streamed.

This blended processing/video decode benchmark spins up the Tegra 3’s cores, spiking the whole platform up over 5 W and well above the competition. The Krait-based Qualcomm SoC incurs a larger hit as well. Both the Samsung ATIV Tab and Dell XPS 10 average higher consumption than the Atom-based Acer Iconia W510, which is sort of in line with what we saw from the more demanding Tom’s Hardware homepage test.

The implication is that, at idle, the ARM-based designs exhibit superior power use. As load increases, Atom appears to draw even, and eventually operates more efficiently.

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  • 1 Hide
    amuffin , January 10, 2013 6:00 AM
    Strike a pose for the camera!
  • 1 Hide
    archange , January 10, 2013 7:17 AM
    Are there any news about the 5th companion core in Tegra being supported under RT? Is software patching feasible?
  • -4 Hide
    abbadon_34 , January 10, 2013 7:45 AM
    Please tell me the "Metro" reference in IE10 does not mean some forced Win8/Metro style interface. They've lost enough users to other browsers, do they want the rest to jump ship?
  • 3 Hide
    tomfreak , January 10, 2013 8:46 AM
    whatever it is, 5-10hours of battery life is not good enough. 24hours is the ideal length.
  • 7 Hide
    archange , January 10, 2013 8:47 AM
    abbadon_34Please tell me the "Metro" reference in IE10 does not mean some forced Win8/Metro style interface. They've lost enough users to other browsers, do they want the rest to jump ship?

    It's not "forced". On w8 you get applications specifically designed for touch input. Basically, you have two versions of IE10: the "regular" desktop one and the "Metro" version. The latter has re-placed the URL / search bar at the bottom and has larger, finger-friendly buttons. It also hides its bars for a full-screen browsing experience, which comes in handy on smaller tablet screens. Oh, and I don't use it. Dunno why, but it just doesn't appeal to me :p 
  • -7 Hide
    vaughn2k , January 10, 2013 10:39 AM
    AMD should never had sold the (Imageon) Adreno to Qualcomm.. they should have been gaining business in the mobile business by now... Ruiz was a @*!!@$$...
  • 2 Hide
    ojas , January 10, 2013 12:04 PM
    Also an interesting read:
    Anand's pre-CES article b/w Atom, Krait and the Cortex A15:
  • 1 Hide
    ojas , January 10, 2013 12:20 PM
    Was interested to read about the predictions for this year.

    In order to get the 5-10 hours of gameplay, Tegra 4 would need to run between 3.8 and 7.6 W. We're immensely curious to see if the company can do this.

    Anand estimated a 8w TDP for a quad core A15, i think it was the Exynos....with that in mind...i think you're indeed right about your estimate...

    The yellow line is the time he's gaming.

    Intel claims that its Haswell architecture will be exerting influence in the same space as quad-core Cortex-A15-based devices by the end of the year.

    True...Ivy Bridge's already dipped to 7w...
  • 1 Hide
    kyuuketsuki , January 11, 2013 5:06 AM
    So... you list those 3 SoCs as defining the 2013 tablet space and completely ignore:

    1) Samsung's A15-based Exynos
    2) AMD's Temash

    The heck?
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , January 12, 2013 1:41 AM
    KyuuketsukiSo... you list those 3 SoCs as defining the 2013 tablet space and completely ignore:1) Samsung's A15-based Exynos2) AMD's TemashThe heck?

    We didn't have that hardware on-hand in Vegas, but certainly would like to add those numbers!
  • 1 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , January 14, 2013 3:29 AM
    The only noteworthy point i see here is how much Tegra3 sucks.
    Makes me wonder what the hell was MS thinking when it chose T3 as the heart of their main product, and a showcase of WinRT. Has MS management gone completely crazy ?
  • 0 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , January 14, 2013 3:31 AM
    Is there any way these tests can be repeated, but with Android as the OS ?
  • 0 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , January 14, 2013 3:32 AM
    ojasvy Bridge's already dipped to 7w...

    That was marketing BS. FUD 101.
    Read the updated reports, which clearly say that those chips are 13W really.
  • 0 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , January 14, 2013 3:37 AM
    @ Chris Angelini :

    Did they give all that power measuring equipment to you for keeps ? Or was it only for the CES ?
  • 0 Hide
    thety6on , January 16, 2013 4:11 PM
    Hahaha nice job with the picture, Tom's. I love Hemingway