Preliminary Core M benchmarks hint at Broadwell's potential

Scott is making the rounds at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, and he just passed along some interesting benchmark results from a Broadwell system. The scores come from a modified version of Intel's Llama Mountain reference tablet equipped with a Core M 5Y70 processor.

Before you get too excited, we should note that the scores may not be representative of what the chip can do in a typical device. Intel replaced the back of the reference design with a special piece of machined aluminum that could allow the CPU to maintain higher frequencies than in a conventional chassis. The Core M 5Y70's dual cores have a 1.1GHz base clock, but when thermals permit, they can scale as high as 2.6GHz via Turbo.

There are more caveats, too. Intel configured the system and ran the tests itself, so we weren't able to verify the results independently. Although we've provided some comparative scores that we obtained ourselves, we can't be sure that the reference rig was configured in exactly the same way. Our data is also cobbled together from multiple reviews with different drivers and operating systems. The numbers still provide some insight on the Core M's performance, but a dash of salt is recommended.

We'll start with the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark, whose performance is somewhat dependent on the browser software. Even different versions of the same browser can perform differently in this test.

The Llama Mountain tablet is likely using a different browser than the other systems, which could give it an edge over the rest of the field. That said, the Core M 5Y70 easily outpaces the pack, including a pair of 35W duallies from the current generation: the Haswell-based Core i5-4570T and the Kaveri-based FX-7600P. Not bad for a 4.5W chip.

Next, we have 3DMark's Ice Storm Unlimited test, which renders scenes off-screen at 1280x720 to compensate for devices with different display resolutions.

The Core M can't keep up with its higher-wattage rivals, but it does an admirable job considering the power constraints. Impressively, the Llama Mountain device comes out well ahead of Nvidia's Kepler-infused Shield Tablet.

Last, but not least, we have Cinebench rendering. We've added a couple of desktop processors—the Core i3-3225 and Pentium G2120—to complement a different set of mobile alternatives.

It's pretty amazing to see a tablet-focused Broadwell chip flirting with the performance of low-end desktop CPUs from not long ago. The Core i3-3225 has dual Ivy Bridge cores clocked at 3.1GHz, and it's not that much faster than the Core M here. The i3's 55W thermal envelope is also an order of magnitude larger than the Core M's TDP.

Multiple Core M systems are supposed to ship before the end of the year, so we should be able to conduct our own testing soon. For now, at least, these early numbers provide plenty of cause for optimism about Broadwell's prospects in slim notebooks and tablets.

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