We spent some time with representatives from Intel at the Consumer Electronics show and saw a couple of interesting demos in action. In addition to announcing that 7W Ivy Bridge-based processors are coming down the pipeline, Intel was touting the low power characteristics and efficiency of its current Clover Trail Atom processors, which are featured in a number of Windows 8 tablets.
Intel is on a mission to rebut the notion that ARM-based processors are more power efficient than Intel’s. In one demo, Intel had wired up a number of sensors to the batteries on a quartet of tablets to monitor power consumption in real-time. Two of the tablets (a Samsung ATIV and Dell XPS 10) were built around Qualcomm Krait-based SoCs, one (a Microsoft Surface RT) featured NVIDIA’s Tegra 3, and the last was an Acer W510 which features Intel’s Clover Trail platform. The screen brightness and audio volume were normalized across all four devices, and the same YouTube video (at the same image quality setting) was being streamed from the web over an 802.11n Wi-Fi connection.
The demo showed the Tegra 3 powered Surface RT tablet clearly consuming the most the power of bunch, with the Clover Trail and Krait-based systems much more tightly grouped at the bottom. Overall though, the Clover Trail-based Acer tablet was clearly consuming the least amount of power with this particular workload, and Clover Trail offers better overall performance as well.
In another demo, Intel has a blind taste test of sorts up running. Two systems were set up side by side, running the same DX11 game (Dirt 3) at the same image quality settings. One system featured an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650, while the other was powered by an upcoming Haswell-based processor with integrated GT-3 graphics. Haswell’s GT-3 graphics engine will reportedly offer about 2X the performance of Ivy Bridge’s HD 4000 series graphics, along with a number of additional features as well. Check out the video demo here for yourself to get a feel for things..
In the demo, both machines easily produced smooth frame rates and were nearly indistinguishable from each other. Intel has focused a ton of resources on graphics over the last few years and the company aims to significantly up the ante one Haswell ships sometime later this year. High-end discrete GPU will continue to be much more powerful than integrated graphics moving forward, but for mainstream users and casual gamers, Haswell’s integrated graphics should be plenty powerful.