Core M 5Y70 Early Testing

Intel let us run a handful of benchmarks on the new Core M 5Y70 processor at IDF.

During a press session today with Intel, I was able to get some early performance results on Broadwell-Y in the form of the upcoming Core M 5Y70 processor.

Testing was done on a reference design platform code named Llama Mountain and at the heart of the system is the Broadwell-Y designed dual-core CPU, the Core M 5Y70, which is due out later this year. Power consumption of this system is low enough that Intel has built it with a fanless design. As we posted last week, this processor has a base frequency of just 1.10 GHz but it can boost as high as 2.6 GHz for extra performance when it's needed.

Before we dive into the actual result, you should keep in mind a couple of things. First, we didn't have to analyze the systems to check driver revisions, etc., so we are going on Intel's word that these are setup as you would expect to see them in the real world. Next, because of the disjointed nature of test were were able to run, the comparisons in our graphs aren't as great as I would like. Still, the results for the Core M 5Y70 are here should you want to compare them to any other scores you like.

First, let's take a look at old faithful: CineBench 11.5.

UPDATE: A previous version of this graph showed the TDP for the Intel Core M 5Y70 as 15 watts, not the 4.5 watt listed here now. The reasons are complicated. Even though the Intel Ark website lists the TDP of the Core M 5Y70, Intel has publicly stated the processor will make very short "spikes" at 15 watts when in its highest Turbo Boost modes. It comes to a discussion of semantics really. The cooling capability of the tablet is only targeted to 4.5-6.0 watts and those very short 15 watt spikes can be dissipated without the need for extra heatsink surface…because they are so short. SDP anyone? END UPDATE

With a score of 2.77, the Core M 5Y70 processor puts up an impressive fight against CPUs with much higher TDP settings. For example, Intel's own Pentium G3258 gets a score of 2.71 in CB11, and did so with a considerably higher thermal envelope. The Core i3-4330 scores 38% higher than the Core M 5Y70 but it requires a TDP 3.6-times larger to do so. Both of AMD's APUs in the 45 watt envelope fail to keep up with Core M.

The next two tests, 3DMark Ice Storm and SunSpider, are interesting in that they are cross platform. This allows comparison between results from tablets, both Android and iOS.

The test was run on Chrome on the Android tablets, Safari on the iPad Air, and in Internet Explorer on the Windows 8.1 Core M 5Y70 tablet. The SunSpider Javascript benchmark is 4.6x faster than the Tegra K1 SoC and 3.4x faster than the highly optimized JS setup in Safari on the Apple A7 SoC. 

The overall score for the Core M 5Y70 is 47% faster than the next competitor, the Tegra K1. Intel's own Atom Z3745 (Bay Trail) is well behind, with the 5Y70 getting a 237% advantage.

Breaking this down into its components, the graphics performance scales nearly in line with the overall results. The Core M 5Y70 is 39% faster than the Tegra K1 and 300% faster than the Atom Z3745. 

Finally, looking at the CPU side of the equation in the physics subtest, that advantage grows to 66% for the Core M 5Y70 over the Tegra K1 and 91% over the Atom Z3745.

To be fair, these SunSpider and 3DMark Ice Storm results aren't perfect and the Core M devices are not exactly going up against the same category of tablets you'll find the Tegra K1 and Atom Z3745 in. But the comparisons are interesting and they are the ones we had on hand while at IDF to write this up. 

Intel claims that tablets like this reference design, hitting thickness of 7mm or so, will be able to offer up these levels of performance while maintaining 9+ hours of standard consumer usage. Though the units that we tested and used today were hand built, reference platforms, Intel has spent a lot of time getting things right. I have to admit that the total package looks compelling and, having been hands on with a couple of retail-ready units from Lenovo at IDF, I'm ready to buy in to the advantages of Broadwell-Y and Core M. 

Even more impressive is the size of the system board powering these machines – you are looking at it, above, in its entirety. The green package is the Core M 5Y70 Broadwell-Y processor (and PCH) with the rest of the components consisting of system memory, IO controllers, and connectivity. Seeing it in person really drives home the feat of getting that kind of system level performance in such a small, efficient space.

Intel claims that retail sales of partner systems will be begin in October. I'm looking forward to getting these platforms in our office to run through the full gamut of benchmarks and user experience testing.