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Update: Intel Expands Our Battery Testing At CES 2013

Update: Intel Expands Our Battery Testing At CES 2013
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We've already shown that x86 competes readily with ARM's simpler architecture when it comes to battery life. We continue our investigation at this year's CES, where Intel came packing its own tests on four current-generation tablets.

At this year's CES, we had a chance to spend several hours with Intel engineers in the company's suite at the Venetian, breaking down the power consumption of four new tablets based on Intel's own Atom Z2760, Nvidia's Tegra 3, and Qualcomm's APQ8060. 

Get it, ARMs?Get it, ARMs?

Benchmarking is tricky business. When testing graphics cards, we’re accustomed to presenting performance as an average frame rate over time. But we know that isn’t an absolute representation. When we evaluate storage, we run corner cases and real-world transfer tests. But, again, we know those metrics don’t necessarily characterize every aspect of how drives behave, particularly since drive behavior changes over time. Similarly, when measuring how much power a tablet consumes and how long its battery lasts under a given workload, keep one thing in mind: that measurement is really only good for one specific test, and therefore not necessarily reflective of what you plan to do with the device. The graphics and storage considerations are nothing new, but when it comes to power testing tablets, how much can the benchmark workload really affect the outcome?

Plenty, it turns out. Enough to change the finishing order in our battery testing.

Testing Power Granularly, Again

Why go to all of this trouble in the first place? Well, Intel is naturally concerned about the perception that its x86 ISA is more complex, and therefore less viable in the mobile space. The company is eager to dig in as deep as possible to as many devices as possible based on its own technology and the competition. Alan’s piece, ARM Vs. x86: The Secret Behind Intel Atom's Efficiency, covered much of that though, illustrating the power performance of both Atom and Tegra 3 using defined benchmarks.

Two of Intel's engineers setting up power tests on four tablets.Two of Intel's engineers setting up power tests on four tablets.

We’re interested because the hardware has been, up until now, so black-box. You have a smartphone or a tablet, you run what limited tests there are available for a given mobile operating environment, and you try to draw comparisons to dissimilar architectures.

But what if the Web browsing and video playback battery life tests you’ve seen up until now weren’t telling you as much as they possibly could? What if connecting leads to the battery, processing cores, graphics engine, and panel shed even more light onto how the tablet you have your eye on might behave under the tasks you typically perform?

After running three Web-based workloads and a pair of video playback tests, it quickly became clear that drawing sweeping conclusions about power is uninformed at best, and misleading at worst.

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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:
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6536/arm-vs-x86-the-real-showdown
  • 1 Hide
    ojas , January 10, 2013 12:20 PM
    Was interested to read about the predictions for this year.

    Quote:
    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.

    Quote:
    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