Our Windows performance analysis takes place on Intel's Bay Trail Form Factor Reference Design. The 10-inch tablet features a 2560 x 1440 display, 2GB of LPDDR3-1067 memory and a 64GB eMMC solution. The platform was running Windows 8.1 (32-bit).

Intel left me to install and run anything I wanted to during a period of a few hours at their campus in Santa Clara. I got a feel for the speed and snappiness of Bay Trail during my benchmark setup/installation process. While I don't believe Clover Trail was really usable in Windows 8's desktop mode (it was just too slow), the same is definitely not true for Bay Trail. With the exception of a few benchmark installs or loads that simply took forever, my Bay Trail experience was really quite good under Windows. Bay Trail is obviously not as fast as Haswell when it comes to general usage, but it's definitely worthy of a discussion. Whether or not it actually is good enough for an entry level machine will depend on how OEMs choose to configure their Bay Trail systems. I'll hold off on a final verdict here until we have some time with final Bay Trail devices and not just FFRDs.

Intel already teased the Atom Z3770's multithreaded Cinebench performance, but what about single threaded performance? Remember that single threaded performance is often a signfiicant contributor to things like application responsiveness.

Cinebench R11.5 - Single-Threaded Benchmark

The single threaded performance numbers are just barely ahead of AMD's Jaguar based Kabini SoC. The big difference however is power. I had Intel measure SoC power at the board level while running a single threaded Cinebench 11.5 run on the Atom Z3770 and saw a range of 800mW - 1.2W. AMD on the other hand lists the A4-5000's SoC/APU idle power as 770mW. I don't have equivalent data for AMD, but with the A4-5000 idling at 770mW, it's safe to say that SoC level power consumption is lower on Bay Trail. The A10-4600M/Trinity comparison is interesting as it really helps put Bay Trail's performance in perspective as well.

Cinebench R11.5 - Multi-Threaded Benchmark

Multithreaded performance puts Bay Trail and AMD's Kabini at similar performance levels. Once again, looking at SoC power however the Atom Z3770 pulls around 2.5W in this test. Looking at the increase in platform power for the A4-5000 here, I'm assuming that the equivalent data for AMD would put Kabini in the 6W range. Multithreaded performance comes very close to the Pentium 2020M, but that's really overstating the strength of Bay Trail here as the Atom Z3770 has twice as many cores as the Pentium 2020M.

Single threaded integer performance is likely more useful to know, especially given Bay Trail's target market. For a rough idea of what to expect there, we turn to 7-Zip's built in benchmark. The dataset footprint is large enough to require main memory accesses, making this benchmark a little more interesting than it otherwise would've been. I unfortunately don't have access to all the CPUs here, so the 2C/4T 1.9GHz Core i7 3517U turns into a 2C/4T 1.7GHz Core i5 3317U as it's the only comparison data I had handy:

7-Zip Single-Threaded Benchmark

While Silvermont's single threaded FP performance seemed identical to Jaguar, its single threaded integer performance is much higher in the 7-Zip benchmark. Here the Atom Z3770 is 25% faster than the A4-5000. Looking further up the list however, there's still a healthy gap between thermally constrained Ivy Bridge Ultrabook class parts and the best Bay Trail has to offer. In this case Surface Pro's silicon is 70% faster than Bay Trail. Depending on your perspective that's either a huge difference or remarkably small given how wide the previous Atom to Core gap was.

7-Zip also features a multithreaded benchmark. Here we're looking at the same workload, but now split across all available cores/threads:

7-Zip Multi-Threaded Benchmark

In multithreaded integer workloads, the Z3770 gets dangerously close to Ivy Bridge levels of performance. Again, we're overstating Bay Trail's performance here as the Z3770 has four cores while the Core i5-3317U only has two (but with Hyper Threading presenting another 2 virtual cores). I don't believe most tablet workloads are heavily threaded integer workloads, however the world is hardly single threaded anymore. The reality is that a quad-core Bay Trail should perform somewhere between 40% - 80% of a dual-core Ivy Bridge.

For what its worth, Bay Trail SoC power during the multithreaded 7-Zip benchmark was between 1.9W - 2.5W. At this point there's no question in my mind that Silvermont and Bay Trail are truly tablet-class power consumers.

Our next tests are browser based benchmarks that, once again, hope to characterize Bay Trail's performance in a manner that's more representative of lighter client workloads:

Mozilla Kraken Benchmark (Chrome)

The Silvermont vs. Jaguar comparison shows a 29% advantage for Intel. Looking back at Clover Trail vs. Bay Trail, the performance improvement is staggering. Intel improved performance by over 3x at this point. The 17W Ivy Bridge vs. Bay Trail comparison continues to be interesting. Here the Core i5-3317U completes the Kraken test in half the time of the Atom Z3770.

SunSpider 0.9.1 Benchmark (Chrome)

The Silvermont/Jaguar gap in SunSpider shrinks a bit in SunSpider. Bay Trail is still over 2x faster than Clover Trail, and Ivy Bridge remains over 2x the speed of Bay Trail.

For our final light CPU workload test we have PCMark 7. This is an interesting benchmark as it takes into account the storage subsystem a bit. Keep in mind here that the Bay Trail system is using eMMC based storage, while all of the others are using a standard SSD (Samsung SSD 830):

PCMark 7 (2013)

As we saw earlier, Bay Trail can make up for its single threaded performance by doing quite well in multithreaded tests. PCMark 7 attempts to present a mixed workload view of Bay Trail's performance and the result is relatively similar to AMD's Jaguar based A4-5000 Kabini APU. AMD's Trinity ends up being just under 30% faster than Bay Trail, while 17W Ivy Bridge is 60% faster. Overall platform performance is definitely not bad at all as long as the OEM does a good job specing the device. In this case the Samsung eMMC solution in the Bay Trail tablet reference design was surprisingly decent.

GPU Performance

Arguably the more interesting CPU and GPU tests will come in the Android section but I borrowed some Android data from our Kabini review and ran through 3DMark, GFXBench 2.7 and some lighter Steam games:

3DMark - Ice Storm

Bay Trail's overall 3DMark Ice Storm score (720p) is about on par with Brazos rather than being a competitor for Kabini. Bay Trail's HD Graphics core is based on Ivy Bridge and it's a cut down implementation at that.

3DMark - Physics

3DMark's Physics test is basically a multithreaded CPU benchmark, which allows the Z3770 to pull ahead of the A4-5000.

3DMark - Graphics

If we isolate graphics alone however, the Z3770 once again falls behind Brazos.

GFXBench 2.7's T-Rex HD test seems to agree with what 3DMark tells us:

GL/DXBenchmark 2.7 - T-Rex HD (Offscreen)

Obviously under Windows we have more opportunities to benchmark actual game performance. I turned to the lighter (1366 x 768, low quality) game benchmarks I ran for our HD 5000 comparison. I had to exclude Super Street Fighter IV as a driver problem kept it from running on the Bay Trail FFRD.

In a couple of cases Bay Trail delivers roughly half the GPU performance of a 2011 11-inch MacBook Air, but in a much lower power package. Minecraft saw a bigger gap at 1/3 the performance. None of these games are really playable, but that doesn't mean others aren't. I was able to play Team Fortress 2 on Intel's Bay Trail FFRD (with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse of course) at reasonable frame rates. The system would chunk occasionally but for the most part it was relatively quick. Obviously Bay Trail's graphics are better suited for lighter tablet games.


Borderlands 2



Introduction Android Performance
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • Kidster3001 - Thursday, September 12, 2013 - link

    Not to mention that Intel is the largest contributor to AOSP in the world... and has been for a few years now.
  • dwade123 - Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - link

    RIP ARM.
  • Anders CT - Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - link

    Who do you think will use Bay Trail rather than, say, a Snapdragon in their devices?
  • virtual void - Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - link

    Anyone that understands the value of really good single-threaded performance on integer workloads as that is by far the most important property for a tablet would be stupid not to select Bay Trail.

    Almost every single Android application runs on x86 based Medfield phones, so compatibility with existing Android-applications is a non-issue.

    It comes down to price of the device, if the Silvermont based Android tablets end up at roughly the same price, why wouldn't I want the better performing one (battery life seems to be about the same)?
  • Anders CT - Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - link

    I see two problems with this: The apps where single-threaded performance is critical, is the very apps that are likeely to contain optimized native code.

    Second: I doubt that Bay Trail while be competitive on price, especially if you factor in the apparent lack of on-chip LTE and Wifi modems.

    Maybe we will se a lot of Android laptops (I'm writing this on Android laptop with Tegra 4 btw), but on a bigger screen you tend to be pushing a lot of pixels, and then you need a bigger GPU.

    I'm not saying that Bay Trail will be a failure. I just don't see a lot of reason for OEMs to jump ship on Qualcomm.
  • Dentons - Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - link

    Intel isn't going to kill ARM. While Intel is finally releasing a product that's competitive with ARM, it's probably five or six years too late. To paraphrase from above, convincing existing ARM vendors to move to Intel will not be an easy task. There will be huge costs involved in any such move.

    In order to convert ARM customers, Intel would need either far better performance or far better price points, and probably both. It seems unlikely that Intel has either.

    Even with these latest chips, Intel's performance is only minimally better than ARM's current offerings, and while we don't know pricing, given that Intel has the highest margins in the industry and ARM among the lowest, one must assume that Intel's new silicon won't be price competitive with ARM.

    Further, this chip's stand out feature is its X86 compatibility, something neither of the top mobile operating systems require or desire. ARM also allows mobile manufacturers a large, competitive marketplace from which to purchase CPU's. Were tablet manufacturers to spurn ARM, they'd drop themselves right back into Intel's high-margin arms.

    These chips seems specifically designed to kill off Windows RT. In that alone, they'll probably succeed. Gaining real market share from ARM would require robust X86 versions of iOS and Android. While X86 Android does exist, almost entirely due to work by Intel themselves - there are tremendous application issues. Google seems unlikely to do much of the heavy lifting, the development would continue to be almost entirely the responsibility of Intel.

    ARM has a massive lead. To keep that lead ARM just needs to stay good enough. ARM can win by staying reasonably competitive with Intel's performance while continuing to destroy them on price. Unless Intel brings both massive performance gains and tremendous price reductions, it won't be worthwhile for the big existing ARM players to lift heaven and earth to support X86.

    Intel's only hope is X86 Windows 8 for tablets takes off. Good luck with that. Devices with a full WinTel tax will never be cost competitive with ARM / Android.
  • zeo - Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - link

    Intel already got the ATOM within less than $10 to no more than $20 more than an ARM SoC for the ATOM SoC... And Bay Trail will be priced even lower than the present ATOM!

    And they already are competitive on power efficiency, leaving performance as the last thing they needed to excel at and Bay Trail looks to get enough for it to count...

    Mind, Intel doesn't have to deal with hardware fragmentation as their own driver support for their own GPU is far better than most of the closed drivers used for the proprietary graphics used by the majority of ARM devices.

    And people are more used to using desktop Linux on Intel systems anyway... So don't underestimate their chances too much, they're far from terrible...
  • TheinsanegamerN - Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - link

    see, her is the issue. 10-20 bucks more means the chip is wither 50% or 100% more expensive then the competitor, and offers only a small improvement performance wise. add in atom's tainted name, its no wonder that OEMs dont want to use atom as much as, say, qualcomm chips.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - link

    *here, not her
  • Nagorak - Thursday, September 12, 2013 - link

    And how exactly do you know that OEMs don't want to use Intel chips? Because the day it's announced there aren't tons of Atom based tablets available in the store?

    Samsung even used the old Atom in their Galaxy Tab 3, and this Atom is like three times better. The idea that OEMs are going out of their way to avoid Atoms is not reality.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now