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What do you know about the Tegra 3 SoC in the Asus Prime?

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By CyberPunk7t9, Senior Member on 29th November 2011, 04:57 AM
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-The Tegra 3 SoC (System on a chip) is a combo of a microprocessor, a memory controller, an audio processor, a video encoder and a graphics renderer. It's designed and manufactured by Nvidia, world leader of graphics computing, making it's first appearance in the Asus Transformer Prime.

-The Tegra 3 SoC has 5 physical cores, but limited to performance of quad-cores. The 5th, lower power core, is activated only when the device is idle or handling low tasks, such as syncing and e-mail checking. So, power consumption is always kept to minimum when performance of the quad-core is not needed, ensuring longer battery life. Once you run a normal or higher-demanding task on the tablet, the 5th core shuts off automatically before the 4 main cores are activated. This is all the bios of the chip and doesn't require the user or the developer to change anything to use the Android OS and application this way. Android OS already has a the best support for multi-tasking and is multi-threaded friendly compared to competing operating systems in the market. So, this should be good news of the Asus Transformer Prime to-be users soon.

-The GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) in the Tegra 3 Soc has 12 shaders. But, because Nvidia has not followed a unified-shader architecture in this ARM SoC like they've been doing in their PC and MAC discrete graphics cards, 8 of those 12 shaders are reserved for pixel work and the remaining 4 are for vertex. Maybe Nvidia will use unified-shader architecture in the next generation Tegra SoC'es, when the ARM-based devices are ready for it. The PowerVR MP2 GPU in the iPad 2 has more raw power than the Tegra 3 GPU (Actually, it's the only one thing I personally like about the iPad 2, it's GPU!), but the Tegra 3 Geforce (the commercial name Nvidia uses for their gaming graphics processors) should give a solid 3D performance in games, especially the officially supported games. Nvidia has long history in 3D gaming and been using it's solid connections with game developers to bring higher quality gaming to Android, like what we've seen with Tegra 2 SoC capabilities in games listed in the TegraZone Android app. Add to that, games are not just GPU bound, Tegra 3's quad-cores and 1GB system RAM (iPad has 512MB) will pump up gaming qualities for sure and the pixel density of 149ppi displays crisper images than the 132ppi of the iPad 2. Once the Asus Prime is released, it can be officially considered the highest performing Android device in the world, especially 3D gaming.



Well, I thought I'd have more to type, I paused for a long time and could not think of anything to add. I only wanted to share few things I know about the Tegra 3. I have high interest in computer graphics/processors and been following the Tegra project since 2008.
Some of the Asus Prime to-be-owners doesn't know or care that much about technical details of the CPU in the device and I thought of sharing with them.

Thanks and gold luck.
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29th November 2011, 06:28 AM |#2  
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Thanks for the info. Very interesting
29th November 2011, 02:21 PM |#3  
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As I understand it, the use of the lower power 5th core has decreased battery consumption by over 60% when compared to the earlier 2 core design. I am not sure how they are measuring consumption and the task load.
29th November 2011, 02:38 PM |#4  
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I am most exited about the tablet because of the tegra 3.
In smartphones I find the idea of putting more than one core quite rubbish.
It is not the best solution for a tablet or any other mobile device too. I would highly appreciate a well programmed software over overpowered hardware.
Yet the tegra has a nice concept.
I think most of the time I won't use more than that 5th core. I mean it is even powerful enough to play HD video.
I will primarily use apps that display text and images. Like the browser who is said to utilize 4 cores. But I am sure only because of the crappy programming.
So if people finally come to their minds and start optimizing their apps we will have one quite powerful core and 4 in backup for REAL needs. Seems like an investment in the future for me.


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30th November 2011, 02:35 AM |#5  
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Straight from Wikipedia:

Tegra 3 (Kal-El) series
Processor: quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore, up to 1.4 GHz single-core mode and 1.3 GHz multi-core mode
12-Core Nvidia GPU with support for 3D stereo
Ultra low power GPU mode
40 nm process by TSMC
Video output up to 2560×1600
NEON vector instruction set
1080p MPEG-4 AVC/h.264 40 Mbps High-Profile, VC1-AP and DivX 5/6 video decode[18]
The Kal-El chip (CPU and GPU) is to be about 5 times faster than Tegra 2[19]
Estimated release date is now to be Q4 2011 for tablets and Q1 2012 for smartphones, after being set back from Nvidia's prior estimated release dates of Q2 2011,[20] then August 2011,[21] then October 2011[22]
The Tegra 3 is functionally a quad-core processor, but includes a fifth "companion" core. All cores are Cortex-A9s, but the companion core is manufactured with a special low power silicon process. This means it uses less power at low clock rates, but more at higher rates; hence it is limited to 500 MHz. There is also special logic to allow running state to be quickly transferred between the companion core and one of the normal cores. The goal is for a mobile phone or tablet to be able to power down all the normal cores and run on only the companion core, using comparatively little power, during standby mode or when otherwise using little CPU. According to Nvidia, this includes playing music or even video content.[23]
Tegra 3 officially released on November 9, 2011[/LEFT][/CENTER]
[/FONT]


Tegra 2's maximum ram limit was 1GB. Tegra 3's could be 2GB.
30th November 2011, 02:46 AM |#6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xTRICKYxx

Straight from Wikipedia:

Tegra 2's maximum ram limit was 1GB. Tegra 3's could be 2GB.

The rumor mill is churning out some specs on an upcoming Lenovo tablet with some funky specs, like 2GB DD3....so it's possible. However, the same leak/article also says its chip is clocked at 1.6 Ghz which is quite a bit out of spec, so I would take it with a usual:
30th November 2011, 03:17 AM |#7  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jerrykur

As I understand it, the use of the lower power 5th core has decreased battery consumption by over 60% when compared to the earlier 2 core design. I am not sure how they are measuring consumption and the task load.

You can read the White Papers on the Tegra 3 over on Nvidia's website. But the chip has a controller built into the chip that activates either the 4 cores, or the 1 core based on power demand of a given processing activity.

The quad vs single core are made out of different silicone materials, but same design structure in order to maximize the energy efficiency at the performance curve. The difference of Materials is more efficient at different power curves. So the 5th core is very efficient at low processing levels where it is actively being used.

It's pretty cool stuff
30th November 2011, 04:10 AM |#8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RussianMenace

The rumor mill is churning out some specs on an upcoming Lenovo tablet with some funky specs, like 2GB DD3....so it's possible. However, the same leak/article also says its chip is clocked at 1.6 Ghz which is quite a bit out of spec, so I would take it with a usual:


*Correction: Tegra 3 supports DDR2 AND DDR3. The original Transformer had 1GB of DDR2 @ 667Mhz. The Prime has 1GB of LPDDR2 @ 1066Mhz, a considerable bump in speed. Also, Tegra 3 supports up to DDR3 @ 1500Mhz!
30th November 2011, 04:30 AM |#9  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xTRICKYxx

I think the only compatible RAM would be DDR2. Clock speeds don't matter, as the Tegra 3 can be OC'd to 2Ghz no problem.

I'm sure it can, hopefully they increase the battery capacity to compensate for increased power use. As far as the memory, Nvidia's site on Tegra 3 lists DDR3 (though its still running on a 32-bit bus which may or may not be an issue with 3d games), upto 2GB. However, every bit of spec info on the Prime I can find lists DDR2...so I don't know.
30th November 2011, 05:51 AM |#10  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RussianMenace

I'm sure it can, hopefully they increase the battery capacity to compensate for increased power use. As far as the memory, Nvidia's site on Tegra 3 lists DDR3 (though its still running on a 32-bit bus which may or may not be an issue with 3d games), upto 2GB. However, every bit of spec info on the Prime I can find lists DDR2...so I don't know.

The Prime's RAM speed is considerably faster than the TF101.
30th November 2011, 10:38 AM |#11  
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If it does have room to expand, could we expand or upgrade the RAM?
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