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NVIDIA Tegra 3 and ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime

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2010 – the 1st grand year of:

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Core information:


Follow-up: Kindle Fire with its $200 price pushing everybody up, down or out of the Android tablet market [Dec 8, 2011]

Update: ASUS introduces [i.e. making available] the Eee Pad Transformer Prime with NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 Quad-Core Processor and Google® Android™ 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich [ASUS press release, Dec 1, 2011]

Meet the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime, the world’s first quad-core tablet. – Incredibly beautiful with a spun aluminum finish and measuring in at 8.3mm thin and 586g light. – Ultra performance with NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 quad-core processor, with 18 hours of battery life and upgradable to AndriodTM 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. – Amazing 8MP camera with LED flash and large F2.4 aperture. – Super IPS+ panel with 178° viewing angle and 600 nits display for outdoor enjoyment. – Supreme sound powered by ASUS SonicMaster Technology. ASUS exclusive application combined with the above makes the Transformer Prime the most powerful tablet ever.

Update: Nvidia Tegra 3 to challenge shipments of 25 million units in 2012 [Dec 2, 2011]

Nvidia is set to challenge to ship 25 million Tegra 3 processors for use in smartphones, tablet PCs and automobiles in 2012 as the company is unlikely to be able to achieve the same shipment goal for its Tegra 2 in 2011, according to industry sources.

Despite that Tegra 2 successfully landed orders from Motorola, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Asustek Computer and Acer, because the chip was not able to gain enough share from the smartphone market, which is currently dominated by Qualcomm, while shipments of non-Apple tablet PCs, which Tegra 2 accounts for 75% of the volume, are limited, Nvidia’s goal of shipping 25 million Tegra 2 chips in 2011 will not be able to be realized, the sources noted.

Although Nvidia still faces strong competition from players such as Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, the company with its advances with the Tegra 3 processor will try to challenge the same shipments goal in 2012 and is eying Windows on ARM (WOA) in 2013 to achieve further growth.

Currently, there are 11 smartphones that have adopted Tegra 2 including Motorola’s Artix, LG’s Optimus 2X and Samsung’s Galaxy R. Meanwhile, there are 23 tablet PCs with Tegra 2 including Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1, Asustek’s Eee Pad Transformer and Acer’s S3.

Tablet Specification Comparison (source: Anandtech)

  ASUS Eee Pad Transformer ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime Apple iPad 2 Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Dimensions 271mm x 175mm x 12.95mm 263 x 180.8 x 8.3mm 241.2 x 185.7 x 8.8mm 256.6 x 172.9 x 8.6mm
Display 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 Super IPS+ 9.7-inch 1024 x 768 IPS 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 PLS
Weight 675g 586g 601g 565g
Processor 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 (2 x Cortex A9) 1.3GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 (4 x Cortex A9) 1GHz Apple A5 (2 x Cortex A9) 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 (2 x Cortex A9)
Memory 1GB 1GB 512MB 1GB
Storage 16GB + microSD card 32GB/64GB + microSD slot 16GB 16GB
Pricing $399 $499/$599 $499 $499

ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime – All Details and Specifications [Nov 8, 2011]

ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime – http://www.netbooknews.com/38965/asus-eee-pad-transformer-prime-full-details/ – Check out the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime, the very first quadcore tablet running on the new NVIDIA Tegra 3 platform

ASUS Announces the Eee Pad Transformer Prime [ASUS US press release, Nov 8, 2011]

ASUS officially announces the world’s first tablet with the NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 quad-core processor – the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime. Cooperatively working with NVIDIA® to launch the first quad-core tablet in the world, the Eee Pad Transformer Prime features the innovative ASUS exclusive mobile dock, presenting a harmony of beauty and strength. ASUS CEO Jerry Shen says, “The combination between the Eee Pad Transformer Prime and Tegra 3 is the perfect fusion to deliver an uncompromising tablet experience. Together, we bring a whole new mobile computing experience to consumers around the world”. Echoing that sentiment, NVIDIA’s President and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang states, “The Eee Pad Transformer Prime is a category-defining product. Powered by Tegra 3, it brings us into a new era of mobile computing, in which quad-core performance and super energy-efficiency provide capabilities never available before. With Transformer Prime, ASUS has once again led the industry into the next generation.”

The Eee Pad Transformer Prime is ultra-thin at 8.3mm (0.33”) and lightweight at 586g (1.29lbs) while featuring a stylish metallic swirl design with class leading enhancements including ASUS SonicMaster audio technology, an HD 8MP rear auto-focus camera with LED flash and battery life rated for up to 18 hours*when combined with the optional mobile dock. Pricing will range from $499** (32GB) to $599** (64GB), with the optional mobile dock accessory priced at $149**.

Incredibly Slim yet Incredibly Powerful
Featuring an ultra-slim form factor, the Transformer Prime is only 8.3mm (0.33”) thin and weighs in at a mere 586g (1.29lbs without dock). This makes watching movies, surfing the web, playing games, taking photos, finishing up homework or video chatting with friends or family so easy and natural that you’ll wonder if the Transformer Prime was designed specifically with you in mind. Its innovative metallic swirl design is made of aluminum for a secure yet extremely comfortable grip that comes in two gorgeous colors: Amethyst Gray and Champagne Gold.

The Transformer Prime is the world’s first tablet to feature NVIDIA’s next-generation quad-core Tegra® 3 processor. With the quad-core CPU, 12-core GeForce® GPU and vSMP technology, the Transformer Prime delivers an optimum user experience featuring smooth multitasking capabilities, lightning fast app loading, a rich and fluid web experience, full 1080P HD video for realistic media playback or recording and of course, incredible gaming performance that allows you to experience games in an entirely new way.

Fantastic Battery Life
While the Transformer Prime is extremely slim and light, ASUS did not forget about battery life. Thanks to the advanced power management features of the Tegra® 3 processor and ASUS optimizations the Transformer Prime has a battery life of up to 12 hours*, but when combined with the mobile dock, it lasts up to an incredible 18 hours*, the longest battery life of any current tablet. That’s enough battery life for a trans-ocean flight, all-night game session, viewing several movies on a long road trip or even video recording, editing, and then playing back your child’s school play all in 1080P HD clarity.

Unrivaled Visuals
The Eee Pad Transformer Prime boasts a wide 178° viewing angle IPS display, protected by Corning® Gorilla® Glass, which features new ASUS technology to enhance the brightness of the screen for a better outdoor reading experience.
[The display’s normal brightness tops out at ~500 nits, but the Prime offers an alternate ‘Super IPS’ mode that pushes display brightness up to 600 nits for use in bright outdoor environments. ]

The high-resolution 10.1” display offers a remarkably vivid and brilliant viewing experience of photos, books, videos, games, and more in either landscape or portrait mode outdoors, indoors and even in low-light places like an airplane or train. Thanks to Multi-Touch technology, you can use your fingers to do everything from swiping through photos, surfing the web, playing the latest games, typing emails, instant messaging, reading books or magazines, and starting your favorite movie.

A 1.2MP front camera allows for instant photos or high-quality video conferencing with friends, family or coworkers while an 8MP rear camera with auto-focus and LED flash takes stunning photos or video thanks to a large F2.4 aperture, back illuminated CMOS sensor, touch-to-focus depth of field and low-light noise reduction to provide the clearest and sharpest photos or even 1080P HD videos.

Advanced Audio
The Transformer Prime offers impressive audio capabilities in a tablet, powered by ASUS exclusive SonicMaster technology, renowned for crisp and acoustically accurate audio. It produces crystal clear sound with a wide sound stage, increased audio fidelity, and distinct vocal enhancements for an immersive audio experience with your favorite music track, video, or movie.

Unlimited Productivity
The Transformer Prime is offered with either 32GB or 64B flash storage options for quick, efficient and reliable access to your applications. Both models feature a micro SD card slot, 3.5mm combo audio jack and micro HDMI port so sharing both what’s inside and on-screen is quick and easy. However, the function that gives the Transformer Prime its namesake is the mobile dock, which gives new meaning to the term versatility. This innovative and convenient design seamlessly provides the user with a keyboard and touchpad for superior content creation capabilities, longer battery life and incredible expandability options via the USB port and SD card slot.

ASUS will include several innovative applications like SuperNote that is fantastic for its ability to take, draw or record notes and Polaris® Office which is great for staying productive with the ability to read, edit or create Word, Excel and PowerPoint (MS Office 97-2007) compatible files. Thousands of top rated applications and games are also available at Android Market that fully takes advantage of the Transformer Prime’s amazing new features and power.

More information: Detailed specification [on NVIDIA site]

NVIDIA Tegra 3: Fifth Companion Core [NVIDIA, Nov 2, 2011]

The first mobile quad core CPU with The Fifth Companion Core is a look at how the Tegra 3 – Variable SMP processor works to deliver high performance while achieving the lowest power consumption.

Variable SMP – A Multi-Core CPU Architecture for Low Power and High Performance [NVIDIA whitepaper, Sept 20, 2011]

Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing

NVIDIA’s Project Kal-El is the world’s first mobile SoC device to implement a patented Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing (vSMP) technology that not only minimizes active standby state power consumption, but also delivers on-demand maximum quad core performance. In addition to four main Cortex A9 high-performance CPU cores, Kal-El has a fifth low power, low leakage Cortex A9 CPU core called the ‘CompanionCPU core that is optimized to minimize active standby state power consumption, and handle less demanding processing tasks.

Project Kal-El also includes other patented vSMP technologies that intelligently manage workload distribution between the main cores and the Companion core based on application and operating system requirements. This management is handled by NVIDIA’s Dynamic Voltage and Frequency Scaling (DVFS) and CPU Hot-Plug management software and does not require any other special modifications to the operating system

Low Power Companion Core

The Companion core is designed on a low power process technology, but has an identical internal architecture as the main Cortex A9 CPU cores. Since it is built on a low power process in the low performance ranges (and frequencies), it consumes lower power than the main CPU cores that are built on a fast process technology. Power-performance measurements on Kal-El show that the Companion core delivers higher performance per watt than the main cores at operating frequencies below 500 MHz, and therefore the maximum operating frequency of the Companion core is capped at 500MHz. Table 1 compares and contrasts the Companion core to the four main cores on Kal-El.

  Power optimized Companion CPU Core Performance optimized main CPU Cores
Architecture Cortex A9 Cortex A9
Process Technology Low Power (LP) General/Fast (G).
Operating Frequency Range 0 MHz to 500 MHz 0 MHz to Max GHz

Table 1 Companion and Main CPU Core features

The Companion core is used primarily when the mobile device is in active standby and performing background tasks such as Email syncs, Twitter updates, Facebook updates etc. It is also used for applications that do not require significant CPU processing power, such as streaming audio, offline audio, and both online or offline video playback. Note that both audio and video playback, in addition to video encoding, are largely processed by hardware-based encoders and decoders.

Unlike the Companion core, the main CPU cores need to operate at very high frequencies to deliver high performance. Therefore they are built on a fast process technology which allows them to scale up to very high operating frequencies at lower operating voltage ranges. Thus the main cores are able to deliver high performance without significant increases in dynamic power consumption.

imageFigure 3 Low Power Companion CPU on Kal-El

Using the combination of performance-optimized main cores and a power-optimized Companion core, Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing technology not only delivers ultra-low power consumption in active standby states, but also on-demand peak quad core performance for performance hungry mobile applications such as gaming, Web browsing, Flash media, and video conferencing.

vSMP technology successfully combines the power-performance benefits of the power-optimized CPU B and performance-optimized CPU A shown in Figure 2 and delivers a power-performance curve that looks like the one shown in Figure 4.

imageFigure 4 Power-Performance curve of Companion core
plus quad main cores running on vSMP technology

imageFigure 5 CPU core management based on workload

The Variable SMP architecture is also completely OS transparent, which means that operating systems and applications don’t need to be redesigned to take advantage of the fifth core.

More information: The Benefits of Quad Core CPUs in Mobile Devices [NVIDIA whitepaper, Sept 20, 2011] discusses the benefits of quad-core across different types of use cases – web, games, apps, multitasking and more. They also highlight examples of how quad-core Kal-El uses less power than dual-core processors across all performance points.


With 1 core active, the max clock is 1.4GHz (up from 1.0GHz in the original Tegra 2 SoC). With more than one core active however the max clock is 1.3GHz. Each core can be power gated in Tegra 3, which wasn’t the case in Tegra 2. This should allow for lightly threaded workloads to execute on Tegra 3 in the same power envelope as Tegra 2. It’s only in those applications that fully utilize more than two cores that you’ll see Tegra 3 drawing more power than its predecessor.

NVIDIA Tegra 3: Side by Side Comparisons [NVIDIA, Nov 2, 2011]

Check out all our Tegra 3 blog posts at: http://blogs.nvidia.com/tag/tegra-3/ Get the best mobile experience with the NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad core processor. These Side by Side Comparisons showcases the Tegra 3 advantage for obtaining better web performance, accelerating your apps and experiencing the best gaming on mobile. Make sure to check out all NVIDIA Tegra 3 videos below: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C30ShWQm5pI (Glowball Part 2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1qKdBX4-jc (Fifth Companion Core) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2U2r3yKg0Ng (Next-gen Games) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N11AYQkr5Zs (Mobility At The Speed Of Life) (kevesebb információ)

NVIDIA Quad-Core Tegra 3 Chip Sets New Standards of Mobile Computing Performance, Energy Efficiency [NVIDIA press release, Nov 8, 2011]

NVIDIA today ushered in the era of quad-core mobile computing with the introduction of the NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 processor, bringing PC-class performance levels, better battery life and improved mobile experiences to tablets and phones. The world’s first quad-core tablet with the Tegra 3 processor is the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime.

Known previously by the codename “Project Kal-El,” the Tegra 3 processor provides up to 3x the graphics performance of Tegra 2, and up to 61 percent lower power consumption. This translates into an industry-leading 12 hours of battery life for HD video playback.

The Tegra 3 processor implements a new, patent-pending technology known as Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing(vSMP). vSMP includes a fifth CPU “companion,” specifically designed for work requiring little power. The four main cores are specifically designed for work requiring high performance, and generally consume less power than dual-core processors.

During tasks that require less power consumption — like listening to music, playing back video or updating background data — the Tegra 3 processor completely shuts down its four performance-tuned cores and, instead, uses its companion core. For high-performance tasks — like web browsing, multitasking and gaming — the Tegra 3 processor disables the companion.

“NVIDIA’s fifth core is ingenious,” said Nathan Brookwood, Research Fellow at Insight 64. “Tegra 3’s vSMP technology extends the battery life of next-generation mobile devices by using less power when they’re handling undemanding tasks and then ratcheting up performance when it’s really needed.”

The Tegra 3 quad-core CPUs are complemented with a new 12-core NVIDIA GeForce® GPU, which delivers more realism with dynamic lighting, physical effects and high resolution environments, plus support for 3D stereo, giving developers the means to bring the next generation of mobile gamesto life.

For the millions who play games on mobile devices, the Tegra 3 processor provides an experience comparable to that of a game console. It offers full game-controller support, enabling consumers to play games on their tablet or super phone, or connect to big screen HDTVs for a truly immersive experience. It also leverages NVIDIA’s award-winning 3D Vision technology and automatically converts OpenGLapplications to stereo 3D, so consumers can experience 3D on a big screen 3D TV (via HDMI™ 1.4 technology).

The Tegra 3 processor provides the industry’s….

  • Fastest web experience – with accelerated Adobe Flash Player 11, HTML5 and WebGL browsing, and an optimized Javascript engine
  • Fastest applications – with blazing performance for multimedia apps, such as photo and video editing
  • Fastest multitasking – for switching between common uses, such as playing music and games, and background tasks
  • Fastest, highest-quality gaming [not true, eg. the Apple iPhone 4S is powered by PowerVR SGX 543MP2 GPU which more performance, see the below table from Anandtech] – including new Tegra 3 processor-optimized NVIDIA Tegra Zone™ app games such as Shadowgun, Riptide GP, Sprinkle, Big Top THD, Bladeslinger, DaVinci THD and Chidori.

Highlights / Key Facts:

  • The Tegra 3 processor redefines power consumption and mobile-computing performance with:
    • The world’s first quad-core ARM Cortex A9 CPU
    • New patent-pending vSMP technology, including a fifth CPU core that runs at a lower frequency and operates at exceptionally low power
    • 12-core GeForce GPU, with 3x the graphics performance of the Tegra 2 processor, including support for stereoscopic 3D
    • New video engines with support for 1080p high profile video at 40 Mbps
    • Up to 3x higher memory bandwidth
    • Up to 2x faster Image Signal Processor
  • 40 games are expected to be available by the end of 2011, and over 15 Tegra 3 games are under development for Tegra Zone, NVIDIA’s free Android Market app that showcases the best games optimized for the Tegra processor.
  • The Tegra 3 processor is in production. Developers can order the Tegra 3 Developer Kit to create applications for devices with Tegra such as tablets and super phones, at developer.nvidia.com/tegra.

Mobile SoC GPU Comparison (source: Anandtech)

Adreno 225
PowerVR SGX 540
PowerVR SGX 543
PowerVR SGX 543MP2
Mali-400 MP4
GeForce ULP
Kal-El GeForce
# of SIMDs
4 + 1
4 / 2
Total MADs

NVIDIA wouldn’t confirm the target clock for Tegra 3’s GPU other than to say it was higher than Tegra 2’s 300MHz. Peak floating point throughput per core is unchanged (one MAD per clock), but each core should be more efficient thanks to larger caches in the design.

A combination of these improvements as well as newer drivers are what give Tegra 3’s GPU its 2x – 3x performance advantage over Tegra 2 despite only a 50% increase in overall execution resources. In pixel shader bound scenarios, there’s an effective doubling of execution horsepower so the 2x gains are more believable there. I don’t expect many games will be vertex processing bound so the lack of significant improvement there shouldn’t be a big issue for Tegra 3.



  1. danwat1234 says:

    X86 computers ftw

  2. Very well written article! I’m definitely looking forward to the release of this device and will get my hands on it as soon as possible 😉 looks very promising 🙂


  3. Canto93 says:

    With a slim, lightweight design and a 10.1-inch WSVGA IPS capacitive display made from durable and scratch-resistant glass that is viewable at angles up to 178°, the versatile Eee Pad Transformer is the perfect tablet for anyone who want to enjoy multimedia on the move, but still wish to have easy access to the web, email, and other productivity applications. A custom user interface provides easy access to the many features of the Android 3.2 (Honeycomb) operating system, while the NVIDIA® Tegra? 2 chipset provides full support for Adobe® Flash® 10.2,1 smooth HD video conferencing and playback, a lightning fast web experience, and incredible mobile gaming performance. Front and rear cameras make for easy video chat and digital photography, which can be played back in video on HDTVs via a mini HDMI output port, making it a true mobile entertainment device.

  4. […] also: NVIDIA Tegra 3 and ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime [Nov 10 – Dec 2, 2011] for all related information + Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime: The […]

  5. […] information about the “first generation transformers” is in my NVIDIA Tegra 3 and ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime [Nov 10, […]

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