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Bay Trail benchmark appears: Is Intel going to blow away ARM’s fastest Snapdragon SoC?

The first benchmarks of Intel’s upcoming Bay Trail SoC have appeared online – and it’s good news for x86 fans, but terrible news for ARM: Bay Trail-T, clocked at just 1.1GHz, is around 30 per cent faster than Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 clocked at 2.3GHz, the fastest ARM chip on the market.

This data comes from an Antutu benchmark, which shows a device with the code name "byt_t_ffrd10" – Bay Trail-T Form Factor Reference Device – racking up the magnificent score of 43,416.

This is apparently at 1.1GHz, while running Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean (it is probably the Android reference tablet that Intel showed off at Computex last month).

In comparison, the latest Galaxy S4 with LTE-Advanced support, with the Snapdragon 800 SoC, scores just shy of 30,000. To round out the comparison, last year’s Exynos 4 (in the Galaxy S3) scores around 20,000, and Tegra 3 scores around 15,000. In short, the Bay Trail-T SoC is an absolute monster that’s 30 per cent faster than the top competitor and three times the speed of Tegra 3.

Bay Trail-T is Intel’s upcoming 22nm tablet-oriented SoC with four Silvermont cores, due out sometime this year (probably in the autumn). Silvermont is the first new Atom core in five years, and it’s safe to say that Intel has learned quite a few lessons in those intervening years. There’s out-of-order execution, more efficient branch processing and prediction, and faster recovery from pipeline collisions/crashes. Many hardware features were borrowed from Westmere (the die shrink of Nehalem). A massively improved FPU will boost performance dramatically.

In short, Silvermont gets much more done per clock cycle (IPC), while using less power. The hardware hasn’t been properly benchmarked yet, but Intel is claiming that Silvermont is three times faster than the Saltwell CPU core (Medfield/Clover Trail), while using five times less power.

The Antutu benchmark would appear to confirm that Silvermont is indeed very, very fast – and, unless it’s being misreported, this Bay Trail-T SoC is apparently running at just 1.1GHz. When it ships, Bay Trail-T is expected to clock at 2.1GHz. Will commercial tablets score almost 90,000 on the Antutu benchmark?

At any rate, what remains to be seen is how Silvermont performs in a smaller power envelope – namely, smartphones. Will Merrifield, which is a dual-core part that will probably be clocked slower than Bay Trail, be able to keep up with the latest SoCs from Qualcomm, Samsung, and Apple? I don’t think anyone doubts Intel’s potency when it comes to raw performance, but on the matter of performance-per-watt, the jury’s still very much out.

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