In spite of Nvidia’s desperate attempts at convincing the world there’s still hope for its Tegra 4 CPUs, there’s almost absolutely no doubt anymore Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 platform will prevail. But at least as far as the Android tablet market is concerned, there’s one more contender to the throne.
A fairly surprising one, considering its maker is still new in this world, but one that looked extremely impressive in the first few benchmarks. It’s Intel’s Bay Trail SoC, the first to be built on 22 nm semiconductor technology and consisting of four Silvermont cores capable of running at speeds of up to 2.1 GHz.
Though official for many months already and technically available for sampling starting this fiscal quarter, the Bay Trail chip is yet to be seen inside a present or future commercial product. Instead, the only device powered by it that’s been spotted online is a cryptic one going by the convoluted codename of byt_t_ffrd10.
That’s likely a “Form Factor Reference Design”, which in plain English means it’s a slate used by Intel to show off the chip’s speed and potential and to try to draw in OEMs. Otherwise put, it’s a prototype that’s never going to hit actual store shelves.
But enough with the jibber-jabber and let’s see how this thingamajig performed in the newest benchmark. In short, not so great. Don’t get me wrong, the 49.70 frames per second (fps) score in NenaMark 2 is in no way a shameful result. Only it’s not at the height of those AnTuTu scores. Not even close.
As a matter of fact, it kind of makes this slate look like a mid-end device on paper. For comparison, last year’s Nexus 7 is listed at a 56.35 score in NenaMark’s database, while the Nexus 10 is about one point below (i.e. 55.22 fps).
Bummer, right? Definitely, though I wouldn’t panic just yet. After all, it’s just one test and it could have easily been faked. Not to mention we have no idea what kind of prototype we’re looking at here. On top of it all, even if the score is real and the tab in advanced testing phases, it’s not even the actual CPU’s fault for the apparent low performance.
It’s the GPU’s, since NenaMark 2 is a graphics performance benchmark application. But the funny thing in this entire equation is we had set our bar of expectations pretty high for Bay Trail’s GPU, too. Unlike previous Intel Atom processors, which have all been paired with PowerVR graphics processing units, this new one is to partner up with Intel HD graphics.
Sounds like big trouble for Intel, so I won’t stir up the hornet’s nest any longer. But one more thing before wrapping up. The Bay Trail-based tab is listed in NenaMark 2 as sporting Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, a CPU clocked at 1.4 GHz and a 1,024 x 720 pixels resolution display. Yeah, sounds like mid-range to me.