- 10-28-2012, 09:19 PM #1
I've been going over a few things with my surface RT and in doing so, noticed a few things of interest.
Specifically, I was/am perplexed at Microsoft's use of the Tegra 3 processor, however this may not be as bad as we all had originally thought - I noticed in the performance monitor that the specs for the Tegra 3 don't properly align with any variant I was aware of. In addition, the device ID for the graphics unit is unique and I've been unsuccessful in locating additional information on it. See the attached snipits from my surface to see what I mean..
I then heard of this "tegra 3+" update, however the most recent mentions of this unit are many months old and very vague. Lastly, I came across the following link on NVidia's site:
Tegra 3 Super Chip Processors | NVIDIA
Notice the specifications section lists two processor lines, "tegra 3 on android" and "tegra 3 on windows 8". Most of the specs for the windows 8 variant are "na" or otherwise extraordinarily vague, but the most interesting sections relate to the fact that the tegra 3 within surface seems to lack the fifth "companion core" and instead of the gpu being listed as "ulp GeForce", we have "ulp NVidia".
So what can we take from all of this? I'm not entirely certain, but it appears to me at least, that we likely have a more potent graphics processor, improved cpu performance (no companion core scaling and 4MB L2 cache) and thankfully, Surface has been outfitted with the fastest memory supported (ddr3-l 1500).
I was searching all over for more info on this, so I apologize if this has already been discussed. If this is new to anyone, I would love for us all to dig a bit deeper into what's actually powering these wonderful tablets!
- 10-29-2012, 11:34 AM #2
1) I am sorry but it really annoys me when people use the word "all" when referring to themselves. We did not all have concerns about using the Tegra 3. You had a concern. The only problem with the processor is it has been running android devices and android is an un-optimized mess.
2)People outside of the Apple user world need to spend more time using their devices and less time picking them apart.
- 10-29-2012, 12:41 PM #3
2) I buy a device partially because I LOVE to pick them apart. This is FUN for me and something I enjoy. I want to know every last detail of the system I'm running, and then I want to see how I can squeeze more performance from it. Just because you simply "use" these devices, doesn't mean all of us have to keep our interests so narrowly focused.
3) Thanks for contributing absolutely nothing to this thread and throwing it way off topic. The point of this was to get exciting about figuring out what exactly is behind the, what appears to be, Tegra 3+ (Kal El+) in our Surfaces. Perhaps you don't care about this, but if that's the case, why respond? Please move along sir.
Last edited by brianbrain; 10-29-2012 at 03:00 PM.
10-29-2012, 07:29 PM #4
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Well as I have read almost every thing on the surface. I can tell you they directly worked with NVIDIA to optimize the chipset for the hardware. In fact I believe everything is custom manufactured in the surface to spec, again that much is obvious. Screen, battery, casing, obviously the smaller parts need to be custom, don't really know about the RAM.
NVIDIA 1.4 GHz Tegra 3 Processor
Samsung KLMBG4GE4A 32 GB NAND Flash
Micron 2RE22 D9QBJ 2 GB DDR3 SDRAM
Texas Instruments TPS659110 power management IC
Marvell 88W8797-BMP2 wireless MIMO SoC
Wolfson 8962E low power audio codec
Cypress Semiconductor CY8C20466A CapSense Controller with SmartSenseTM Auto-tuning
Last edited by Gken; 10-29-2012 at 07:37 PM.
- 10-29-2012, 07:57 PM #5
If your right, that is exciting and means most performance issues are probably software related. I too have done some slight investigating before the actually launch of the tablet. When the preorders first went up, the spec lost shown said Tegra 30L. And after a bit of digging I saw that Nvidia is actually selling 3 versions of the tegra 3 with the 30L being the mid range that clocks at 1.5hz. The odd thing tho, is our surface is clocked at 1.3ghz and the Tegra 30L has since been removed from their site. Something is fishy about our Tegra! And good catch on the lack of Campion core. I hope though, that the surface does in fact have the Tegra3+ customized. If so, then the surface chip is LTE compatible and I wouldn't be surprised to see an LTE version soon.
- 10-29-2012, 08:55 PM #7
To those of you who shared my interest in the hardware aspects of our device, I say thank you. Unfortunately, as the poster above both created and subsequently pointed out himself, this thread has become a "troll thread". My apologies to all, and goodnight.
- 10-31-2012, 01:40 PM #9
- 10-31-2012, 01:53 PM #10
Some people on forums seem to think trolling means an opinion that differs from theirs. Just add them to your ignore list and you'll enjoy the forums much better.
- 10-31-2012, 02:36 PM #12
I am in the same boat I found what you had to say so far very interesting. Even if it gets stated that another chip would of been better doesn't take away that what the Surface brings is already very nice.
I have to wait till Christmas to use mine.
- 10-31-2012, 06:23 PM #13
Thanks for the comments guys - it's nice to know there are fellow hardware enthusiasts out there :)
Something further I've found, is that multiple sources reported word directly from nVidia earlier this year that Tegra 3 would have a 28nm process refresh out for devices in "Fall 2012". Considering that the Tegra 3 in Surface has 4MB of L2 cache (4x the amount on any "official" T3x Tegra SoC spec), I would be pretty confident in betting that we've got the 28nm Tegra 3 refresh (or Kal-El+) in our Surfaces.
The extent to which this matters is unknown, but 4x the L2 cache certainly can't hurt. It's likely that nVidia took the 30% die space they gained (given the same die size between chips) from the process shrink to "up the ante" on the Tegra 3+. Thus far, this would easily explain the quadrupling of the L2 cache, as there was now plenty of space to do this based on the die photos. In fact, assuming die size remains constant, I wouldn't be surprised if along with the three extra MB's of L2, that we also got an extra 6 GPU "Cores", as it would appear (again, based off of die photos), that with 30% extra space, they should fit in just nicely.
So, in summation, my prediction? Surface has a 28nm Tegra 3+ (Kal-El+). Four times the L2 cache (confirmed by Windows), 50% more GPU "cores" for a total of 18 vs the previous 12 (solely my prediction), and likely other back-end improvements to the shared memory bus. I don't see anything to indicate that this is a generational leap from standard Tegra 3, but performance should be at least 25% greater on average, with a considerable boost in 3D performance specifically (possibly up to 50% higher).
Again, this is purely me having fun, but take it for what you will :) If I'm right, this places the Surface well within performance range of the Snapdragon S4's, though maybe not quite up to the newer Exynos 5xxx units. Overall, however, I think Microsoft knew what choice they were making, and they likely made the best one. Power consumption on this 28nm beast should be pretty spectacular (as in very low) and would also help explain the exceptional battery life.
Only time will tell, but interestingly enough, nVidia has removed the section on their website regarding the "tegra 3 for windows 8".
Tegra 3 Super Chip Processors | NVIDIA
EDIT: Looks like the section is back up. The specs are still incorrect though (still lists 1MB L2 instead of 4MB L2, among other things).
Last edited by brianbrain; 10-31-2012 at 07:20 PM. Reason: nVidia site re-listed Tegra 3 for Windows 8
- 10-31-2012, 10:11 PM #14
I think some times people say oh why not this chip or that chip. But have to remember that development of a new device starts in some cases years before release. Once a chip is selected hardware is designed around it. Maybe at the time Tegra 3 was the best choice and best performer. Who is to say nVidia didn't also promise this new chip and better performance in time for manufacturing. Once again just guessing but wanting to stake a claim to tablets market they wouldn't use a cheap CPU to limit performance.
Sure today maybe another chip is or isn't slightly faster but this is os version 1 for all intents and purposes and its from what I've seen very smooth for most and can't wait to see it once performance tweaks and updates start to streamline it.
Thanks for the info and sharing your thoughts on the CPU. I remember seeing a long time ago a video from nVidia about working close with MS and getting drivers and chips made for RT. So I am sure this is a custom chip made just for the Surface.
Sent from my LG-E900h using Board Express
- 11-01-2012, 01:06 PM #15
To take this a step further - Qualcomm's S4 Plus is currently releasing on a multitude of Windows Phone 8 devices, and as we're all aware, Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 RT share roughly the same (if not identical) NT based kernels (a big move up from the CE based Windows Phone 7.x). It stands to reason that if a Qualcomm S4 Plus is the "reference" for Windows Phone 8, that it could easily work on Windows RT - in fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see this platform on Windows RT devices that have 3G/4G radios inside in the near future, due to the S4's flexible and power efficient baseband radio.
- 11-01-2012, 02:56 PM #16
Interesting Article says CPU has 5 Cores and one not being used yet.
Why Microsoft's Surface Tablet is my new favorite device | TG Daily
I tend to agree I think Battery life was a major concern. I know for me battery life was one reason I wanted the RT over the Pro even though PRO specs still aren’t official I can't believe that battery life will be similar to the RT.
Last edited by CoopII; 11-01-2012 at 02:59 PM. Reason: Add more
- 11-01-2012, 03:12 PM #17
Cool read - nice to see positive reviews about Surface (so many are so quick to go negative). I'm not sure if he is correct about the 5 cores, however. Tegra 3's fifth "companion core" is kept invisible to the OS by design, and according to nvidia's site, "Tegra 3 for Windows 8" doesn't appear to even have the companion core to begin with. I wouldn't expect to see a fifth core being exposed to the OS any time soon.
I think a few months from now there's going to be no doubt - Surface RT is the way to go. I've recently been evaluating the Atom based W8 tablets (Samsung SmartPC) as they give broader app compatibility while maintaining great battery life, however the broad app compatibility is sort of a joke since the applications run so darn slow. I think RT will stand the test of time (if a year is a test of time) as the platform of choice for tablets, with W8 x86 sticking to ultrabooks, bulkier i5/i7 hybrid tablets, and more traditional systems. Of course in a year with Haswell, Wayne/Logan, and a multitude of A15 derived mobile parts, things should be very interesting!