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GPU Performance: Tegra 2

Toshiba Thrive Review: The Swiss Army Knife Of Tablets
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As we’ve mentioned in the past, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets use highly integrated logic referred to as SoCs to minimize physical footprints and power consumption, all the while optimizing for performance and functionality. By putting execution resource, graphics processing, system memory, and several other subsystems in a single ASIC, data transfers can be achieved more efficiently without soldering a bunch of separate chips onto a PCB. Incidentally, the same SoC term applies to modern desktop processors like Intel's Sandy Bridge- and AMD's Bulldozer-based chips, which combine cores, cache, memory controllers, and other capabilities.

SoC
Apple A4 (iPad)
Apple A5
Nvidia Tegra 2
Tablets
Apple iPad
Apple iPad 2
Acer Iconia Tab A500
Asus Eee Pad Transformer
Motorola Xoom
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Processor
1 GHz ARM Cortex-A8 (single-core)
1 GHz ARM Cortex-A9 (dual-core)
1 GHz ARM Cortex-A9 (dual-core)
Memory
256 MB 333 MHz LP-DDR (single-channel)
512 MB 1066 MHz LP-DDR2 (dual-channel)
1 GB 667 MHz LP-DDR2 (single-channel)
Graphics
PowerVR SGX535 (single-core)PowerVR SGX545MP2 (dual-core)ULP GeForce (single-core)
L1 Cache
(Instruction/Data)
32 KB / 32 KB
32 KB / 32 KB
32 KB / 32 KB
L2 Cache640 KB
1 MB1 MB


Tegra is Nvidia’s SoC brand, and it represents the company’s effort to tap into the mobile market beyond its desktop-derived GeForce graphics processors. For those unfamiliar with Tegra 2, read page eight of our Motorola Xoom review for a full discussion of GPU architecture. On the CPU side, Tegra 2 shares the same dual-core Cortex-A9, which offers a substantial boost from Cortex-A8 used in the first-generation iPad. Read Apple's iPad 2 Review: Tom's Goes Down The Tablet Rabbit Hole for a full discussion of Cortex-A9 performance.

While we've already covered Tegra 2, it's important to examine the graphics performance of each tablet. Sy Choudhury, director of product management at Qualcomm, once stated, "There is a misconception that the same processor and operating system gives the same performance." Why is it wrong to expect the same performance from all Honeycomb-based Tegra 2 tablets? Hardware vendors get access to the same optimizations from the SoC developer, but not all of the software-based tweaks are enabled by OEMs.

GPU (System-on-Chip)
PowerVR SGX 535 (Apple A4)
PowerVR SGX 543 (Apple A5)
ULP GeForce (Tegra 2)
SIMD
USSE
USSE2
Core
Pipelines
2 (unified)
4 (unified)
8 (4 pixel / 4 vertex)
TMUs
2
2
2
Bus Width (bit)
64
64
32
Triangle rate @ 200 MHz
14 MTriangles/s35 MTriangles/s?


The ULP GeForce has a maximum operating frequency of 300 MHz, but device vendors can tweak this setting to save on power. Nvidia provides less information on the Tegra 2 than it does for its desktop GPUs, so it’s best to move on to benchmarks. As in our iPad 2 review, we're turning to GLBenchmark. However, since the publisher of this benchmark recently released version 2.1, our scores are different from what you've seen in the past.

Overall, the Thrive offers performance typical of a Tegra 2-based tablet: better than the iPad, but worse than the iPad 2. However, the standard Egypt and Pro tests only measure performance at a tablet's native resolution. On 10.1" Android-based tablets, that is always 1280x800 (compared to the iPad/iPad 2's 1024x768). 

GLBenchmark 2.1 introduces a new off-screen test, which standardizes performance to 720p. Based on the new tests, we see a smaller gap between the Tegra 2 and PowerVR SGX543MP2, but the latter still outperforms the former by ~50%. As a result, it's not a surprise to hear that Sony will employ a quad-core PowerVR SGX 543MP2 on its PlayStation Vita, the successor to the PSP.

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  • 6 Hide
    ChiefTexas_82 , November 1, 2011 4:34 AM
    Seems to me Nvidia should hurry up with Tegra 3...
  • 5 Hide
    soccerdocks , November 1, 2011 4:35 AM
    User replaceable battery is a big plus for this tablet. That way I can just buy a new one in a few years when it wears out. Instead of having to leave it plugged in all the time.
  • 6 Hide
    LordConrad , November 1, 2011 5:57 AM
    I already own one and love it, the expandability offered by this tablet is simply awesome.
  • 3 Hide
    Lord Lollipop , November 1, 2011 10:03 AM
    If you want nVidia to rush Tegra 3, don't complain when it comes out buggy.
  • -1 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , November 1, 2011 10:21 AM
    I call BS on EeePad not having "full size USB port". It does, just it's on the keyboard dock (and if you buy the Transformer without one, you're wasting money, the dock is the big part of Transformer's awesomeness). However, I love the fact that Thrive has SD card reader - most of my devices (e-book reader, cameras, netbook) use SD, not the stupid microSD, so it'd be a big plus.

    Huh, Galaxy Tab 10.1 is looking quite poor - doesn't have anything besides the cameras. Shame on Samsung.
  • 5 Hide
    acku , November 1, 2011 10:50 AM
    amk-aka-phantomI call BS on EeePad not having "full size USB port". It does, just it's on the keyboard dock (and if you buy the Transformer without one, you're wasting money, the dock is the big part of Transformer's awesomeness). However, I love the fact that Thrive has SD card reader - most of my devices (e-book reader, cameras, netbook) use SD, not the stupid microSD, so it'd be a big plus. Huh, Galaxy Tab 10.1 is looking quite poor - doesn't have anything besides the cameras. Shame on Samsung.

    Galaxy Tab 10.1 supports USB devices and HDMI output but you need to buy the separate adapters.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
  • -8 Hide
    assassin123 , November 1, 2011 11:52 AM
    hello everyone please tell me what are toshiba thrive swiss army of tablets
  • 2 Hide
    CaedenV , November 1, 2011 12:23 PM
    Every time I read a tablet review I keep thinking, man they are pretty; But I really dont know what I would use it for that is worth $500.

    Also, surprised that the processors is about 75% graphics, and still cannot do a separate 1080p output. Cloning the screen at low rez should not be that difficult. Netbooks have been able to do 1080p output for years as an extension of the desktop. Sure, they cannot handle video or gaming at that res, but they do just fine with a web page, presentation, or office applications.

    Also, I bet 2012-2013 will be a fun time for tablets once win8 is released. My bet is that it will become a race between Apple and MS, and Android will become irrelevant, or for media consumption only.
  • 2 Hide
    SinisterSalad , November 1, 2011 1:22 PM
    I picked up the 8GB version a month or so ago when the Egg had a promo going on. I'm a bigger guy, so I like the feel of this. Like Andrew said, it doesn't feel like it's going to slip out of my hands. Hopefully ICS will be available soon for it.
  • 1 Hide
    nforce4max , November 1, 2011 1:46 PM
    Just wait until someone has a accident and drops it only to find the screen digitizer or lcd panel cracked which is a very common issue. Most tablets are underweight and lack proper protection for the screen and flex to much making it easy to break. Second is removable internal storage for the os. Using internal storage for booting that can't be replaced limits the life of most tablets. Cooling is another issue when the soc starts to heat up performance tends to degrade slightly and the user often feels a hot spot on the back. I think that all those porst listen in this review should be standard on all high end tablets above $200 retail especially the $300+. I currently own three tablets and owned a archos 101 8gb before selling it.
  • -6 Hide
    assassin123 , November 1, 2011 2:16 PM
    please ans me
  • 1 Hide
    randomstar , November 1, 2011 2:47 PM
    seems to me that with an acer W500 being in the same price range as the upper models, no one would be buying these.. all the features mentioned here, plus 32gb, Windows7. OK, the battery on mine only lasts 5 hours. So What? I can charge it in the car, at work, just about anywhere. (plus I dont have to worry if there is an AP for that. It is Windows, so of course there is,and it can print, scan, whatever.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , November 1, 2011 4:09 PM
    It looks a bit like an iPad... SUE THEM!
  • 2 Hide
    randomstar , November 1, 2011 5:00 PM
    assassin123please ans me



    Ok, I will bite..
    A Swiss Army Knife is a small folding knife, typicaly with several modified "blades" to perform functions such as scissors, saw, awl, etc. it can contain as few as three and up to several dozen attatchments and functions depending on now elaborate the particualr model is. Refered to as a Swiss Army knife , well because it was at one point made similar to a Swiss watch - meaning intricate and detailed, with precise and reliable function.
    they are trying to say that the Toshiba Thrive has a lot of functions built into one device.
    It really does not have much more than any other similar tablet, but it makes for a point of contention for an article.
  • -6 Hide
    carnage9270 , November 1, 2011 8:15 PM
    You lost me at Toshiba...I'm convinced the name Toshiba is translated to "Crapola"
  • 0 Hide
    victorintelr , November 1, 2011 8:48 PM
    I own a a toshiba thrive. I personally. picked it because of the full size. USB port and the HDMI port p. I planned it on using it in my job but they didn't let me do it.Still I'm pretty satisfied with it. dont have to worry about adapters, but lowered the brightness and the battery lasts the whole afternoon. I barely game in it. though what I don't like is the updates... hopefully it will get the honeycomb 3.2 some day. I don't expect a super tablet out of it. It suits my needs (don't have to carry my laptop to college) , and feel pretty happy wchich is what matters the most, right?
  • 1 Hide
    LordConrad , November 2, 2011 4:06 AM
    ackuGalaxy Tab 10.1 supports USB devices and HDMI output but you need to buy the separate adapters.Cheers,Andrew KuTomsHardware.com

    But having to carry adapters defeats the purpose of a portable and easy to use tablet.

    Galaxy Tab = FAIL
  • 7 Hide
    jamesedgeuk2000 , November 2, 2011 8:05 AM
    You guys missed out something pretty big here, not only is it full sized SD but its SDXC! that means you can get an 8GB Thrive and a 64GB SDXC card for less than the cost of a 16GB iPad. Thought it worth pointing out.
  • 3 Hide
    back_by_demand , November 2, 2011 12:43 PM
    jamesedgeuk2000You guys missed out something pretty big here, not only is it full sized SD but its SDXC! that means you can get an 8GB Thrive and a 64GB SDXC card for less than the cost of a 16GB iPad. Thought it worth pointing out.

    Good point well made, and the best bit is you can have a pocket full of 64Gb SD cards, there is a nice credit card shaped holder for 4 cards that can slip into a wallet, 256Gb of removable storage in your back-burner is pretty sweet.
  • 0 Hide
    shompa , November 2, 2011 1:32 PM
    Lord LollipopIf you want nVidia to rush Tegra 3, don't complain when it comes out buggy.

    Tegra3 is just a stopgap. Its not a good idea to have 5 ARM cores at 40nm.

    Only reason to do this is if you can beat 28nm part by a long time.
    Now Nvidia only will have a 2-3 month lead before 28 nm quod core ARM15 SocS (including A6).

    A15 have twice the performance then A9.

    Look at Tegra2. A5 is up to 5 times faster and is clocked 500-900mhz slower....
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