Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 4th Jul 2018 22:30 UTC
Windows

A couple of months ago, it was reported that Microsoft will be launching a cheaper Surface tablet. According to the original report, it was going to include an Intel Core M processor, also known as the Y-series. As we noted at the time, this didn't make sense, given the $281 price point for a Core m3 and the fact that it's supposed to go into a $399 tablet. It would probably be the most inexpensive Core M device ever.

But according to a report from WinFuture, the $399 tablet will include Intel's Pentium CPUs, and that makes a lot more sense. The base model will have a Pentium Silver N5000, which is a quad-core, 32-bit 'Gemini Lake' processor that's clocked at 1.1GHz.

I find this absolutely puzzling. My Surface Pro 4 with its Core i5 processor isn't exactly a speedy computer, and going down to mere Pentium processors surely makes these new rumoured Surface devices even slower. On top of that, didn't Microsoft just make a whole big deal out of Windows on ARM, which would surely be a far better fit for such a cheaper Surface tablet? Or would ARM processor at these price points be even slower? Surely this device will have to be locked into using Microsoft Store applications, since classic Win32 applications will have a lot of trouble functioning properly on such processors.

If this rumour is true, these cheap Surfaces are going to deliver a terrible user experience.

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Comment by galvanash
by galvanash on Wed 4th Jul 2018 22:48 UTC
galvanash
Member since:
2006-01-25

Its probably slower than a Snapdragon 850, but not dramatically so... The big difference though is that it is going to be much faster at running x86 Windows apps since it doesn't have to deal with emulator overhead.

Honestly, for a cheaper device I think it is actually a better choice. I would expect if they do release a Qualcomm based Surface, it would be a bit faster for native ARM stuff, but neither would be as fast as an I5U for most things...

Surely this device will have to be locked into using Microsoft Store applications, since classic Win32 applications will have a lot of trouble functioning properly on such processors.


Why? Its a 4-core with turbo up to 2.7Ghz. Its no speed demon by any means, but for basic stuff it is probably fine. I wouldn't want one, but I could see it being good enough for lite work. It would certainly run Microsoft Office just fine.

Edited 2018-07-04 22:53 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by galvanash
by Morgan on Thu 5th Jul 2018 00:58 UTC in reply to "Comment by galvanash"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

I agree, I think it will be just fine for an entry-level Surface device. It's a tiny bit slower than the Core m3 and yes, a good bit slower than Thom's (I presume) i5-6400U[1]. However, it's no slouch, and it should offer comparable performance to more expensive Windows 10 tablets by third party manufacturers.

[1] https://www.cpubenchmark.net/compare/Intel-Pentium-Silver-N5000-vs-I...

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by galvanash
by zima on Thu 5th Jul 2018 01:27 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by galvanash"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Yeah, Pentium CPUs aren't that slow. They are quite fine for daily tasks in fact... (though this Pentium Silver N5000 might be somewhat slower than Pentiums typically are now - not because it's a Pentium, but because it has a rather low base clock; but this would be also the case with Core m3...)

Laptops at similar price points also have Pentium or even Celeron chips; Thom balks at them (takes expensive stuff for granted?), but they get the job done for many people.

Edited 2018-07-05 01:30 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comment by galvanash
by bassbeast on Sat 7th Jul 2018 08:24 UTC in reply to "Comment by galvanash"
bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

I'm running Win 8.1 on an AMD Brazos dual core APU and it runs quite well with minimal tweaking, so there reason is no reason that MSFT can't do a couple of tweaks to the install and have it run just fine.

Anybody who has tried WinFLP or Win 7 Starter knows that MSFT does have the ability to tweak their OS to increase its performance and of course being a MSFT product it won't have all that bloatware you get from OEMs that drag most of the laptops you pick up in a Wally world to a crawl.

And MSFT is being quite smart by building a lower priced option because I'm already seeing Surface units everywhere in medical,I'm seeing doctors and nurses left and right using the Surface units because it runs all the X86 software they require for billing and insurance so by making a lower priced unit? I could easily see these making real headway into smaller businesses and factory jobs and those are some pretty big markets.

Never underestimate the network effect, so many businesses both large and small have tons of X86 apps so getting all of those apps running with decent performance is probably worth a lot more to MSFT than having WinARM.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by Hayoo!
by Hayoo! on Wed 4th Jul 2018 23:01 UTC
Hayoo!
Member since:
2013-04-13

Surely this device will have to be locked into using Microsoft Store applications, since classic Win32 applications will have a lot of trouble functioning properly on such processors.

The Pentium Silver N5000 performs more or less the same as the Haswell Core i7 U family of processors for most tasks. I have a Dell Latitude E6440 with a Core i7-4600U that's still more than enough for my software development needs and even light video editing.

On top of that, didn't Microsoft just make a whole big deal out of Windows on ARM, which would surely be a far better fit for such a cheaper Surface tablet? Or would ARM processor at these price points be even slower?

Microsoft's ARM ecosystem is nowhere near ready. People would be complaining about lack of 'real' software for the platform. Microsoft still needs to convince a great number of developers to port their code to ARM. x86 is still the preferred hardware platform for Windows-based devices right now.

Reply Score: 3

I suspect that's basically it...
by bhtooefr on Thu 5th Jul 2018 01:43 UTC
bhtooefr
Member since:
2009-02-19

...that an ARM would be much slower at *EMULATING* x86, than this thing would be at running native x86: http://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/compare/8271545?baseline=873063...

That performance from the N5000 is, on single-threaded, on par with Core 2-era stuff, which is still serviceable for light use (really, disk is more important, the device needs a good SSD, instead of cheap eMMC).

And, store apps aren't the problem for ARM, most of them already exist in ARM versions AFAIK. It's Win32 apps, though, and the problem is that most people aren't buying Windows to get the Windows brand, they're buying Windows to get a Win32 runtime that just works (as opposed to WINE and ReactOS, which don't just work).

Reply Score: 3

kuiash Member since:
2018-05-21

Hi. I've done a little work in this direction recently.

Turns out, yes, you are right! Emulating x86 on ARM is slow(ish). But that only turns out to be true of benchmark/test code.

Example - An application draws some $stuff on the screen.

Depending on where the emulation kicks in this may, or may not, be slow. If the UI/OS libraries are not emulated (maybe a thunking layer) then the libraries run at "full speed". The actual drawing is handled by a device driver that is running native code and the GPU is doing the actual graphics inner loops.

Some stuff does run terribly badly - notably SIMD optimised code. Filtering and any graphics in software.

But a surprising amount doesn't even need emulating.

Conclusion - slow but not as slow as one might expect.

Reply Score: 2

It's not slow
by kriston on Thu 5th Jul 2018 05:08 UTC
kriston
Member since:
2007-04-11

My Surface Pro 4 works faster than any laptop I have ever owned (including my daughter's MacBook Pro).

Intel Core M isn't slow, and from my experience with the dual-core, non-hyperthreaded Intel Pentium Anniversary Edition from a couple of years ago, I welcome a cheaper Microsoft Surface using a high-performance, low-cost processor to the market.

The Surface Pro 4 is an amazing portable computer and tablet, and, now with a lower-cost processor, it will be accessible to even more people who didn't want to go on a payment plan to buy an obsolete Macbook that suffers from many horribly stupid mistakes Apple has made over the past few years.

Edited 2018-07-05 05:08 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Marc_S
Member since:
2017-08-15

https://medium.learningbyshipping.com/intel-disruption-594f806cfc21

It‘s not just the CPU. Don‘t forget the graphics.

Reply Score: 1

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Todays integrated graphics are more than enough for all daily tasks; and also some simpler (from the appstore) or older games.

Reply Score: 2

shotsman
Member since:
2005-07-22

Perhaps someone should tell those in Redmond that the world has moved on from 32bits. Apple and a good number of Linux distros are doing so or have already dropped 32bit versions of their software.

Oh wait! Vendor lock in. They'll have to use the MS App store as it will be the only place to get certified for Windows 32bit apps.

This is a real backward step IMHO just to reduce the build cost by a few dollars.
Intel are just as much to blame for still making 32bit CPU's.

Reply Score: 1

christian Member since:
2005-07-06

Perhaps someone should tell those in Redmond that the world has moved on from 32bits. Apple and a good number of Linux distros are doing so or have already dropped 32bit versions of their software.

Oh wait! Vendor lock in. They'll have to use the MS App store as it will be the only place to get certified for Windows 32bit apps.

This is a real backward step IMHO just to reduce the build cost by a few dollars.
Intel are just as much to blame for still making 32bit CPU's.


ARK indicates that these processors are indeed 64-bit:

https://ark.intel.com/products/128990/Intel-Pentium-Silver-N5000-Pro...

Which makes sense. Producing a 32-bit only core wouldn't make sense, as it'd be too divergent from all the other Intel cores.

When I first read the summary, I thought Intel had resurrected and repackaged the original Pentium (P5) core, as used in the Xeon Phi. But even the P54C based cores in Larrabee are 64-bit capable.

TL;DR
These processors are 64-bit

Reply Score: 7

MikeMe Member since:
2017-06-06

Funnily enough, Debian Buster is adding support for x32 (as opposed to x86) being the ABI for 32-bit AMD.

Reply Score: 2

Underestimated Pentiums
by loic on Thu 5th Jul 2018 06:56 UTC
loic
Member since:
2012-09-23

I have been using a 64 bit Pentium on my gaming rig for 4 years, high end pro core i7 and workstation Xeon on my workstation, and core i5 on my laptop for 2 years. I have been doing software development with tons of virtual machines on each of these platforms. You know what? Never had an issue with a lack of computing power for my regular usages on any of these platforms. By regular usage, I mean Java and .Net development, system administration tests with VMs and gaming on my Pentium rig.
Encoding video and audio is of course as slow as expected on the Pentium, but that is totally expected from a low end dual core.
So please reevaluate your preconceptions with facts. We are in the age where any CPU is good enough for general usage. And unless you got really specific needs (CUDA stuff, encoding, huge compilations, gaming in really hi res), there is zero point in getting a big CPU these days. Give me tons of RAM, a big SSD and a fine Graphics Card and I will be happy enough.

I dunno about these 32 bit one, but its probably faster than the nice 64 bit Pentium CPU I had 5 years ago.

Edited 2018-07-05 07:01 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Comment by Troels
by Troels on Thu 5th Jul 2018 07:52 UTC
Troels
Member since:
2005-07-11

I think the reason you think your Surface Pro 4 is slow is because of the atrociously slow SSD, something like applying Windows updates takes forever, and it is waiting for the IO, not the CPU.

Reply Score: 2

64-bit
by smoerk on Thu 5th Jul 2018 09:57 UTC
smoerk
Member since:
2009-07-10

If Microsoft was using a 32-bit processor, that would be truly delusional.

Edited 2018-07-05 09:58 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Dual 1.1 turbo to 2.2 GHz
by MadRat on Thu 5th Jul 2018 11:46 UTC
MadRat
Member since:
2006-02-17

I have the Dell Edge 32 bit dual core from about 7 years ago and it's still surprisingly snappy for most purposes except windows updates. I had the presence of mind to throw a 256 gig micro SD in it which allows it to offload most of the software except for the OS, Office, and Chrome. It won't play modern games due to screen limitations, but launched quite a few test runs of games that would support the resolution and it's video card. I'm not a fan of playing games on tablets, though, so it doesn't really matter to me. It's still my favorite device to grab whenever I'm watching shows on the boob tube.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by kurkosdr
by kurkosdr on Thu 5th Jul 2018 13:13 UTC
kurkosdr
Member since:
2011-04-11

I find it weird that any modern CPU is "too slow", a Core i5 even more so.

Well, that's the cost of launching a second app (antivirus) when you launch every app, I guess... The cost used to be minimal when all the antivirus scan did was compare a byte sequence to another, but modern antiviruses do much more than that when scanning.

BTW Thom, I suppose you use Windows Defender right? It's the lightest AV out there...

Reply Score: 2

Source wrong about bitness of N5000
by sydbarrett74 on Thu 5th Jul 2018 14:02 UTC
sydbarrett74
Member since:
2007-07-24

According to this (https://en.wikichip.org/wiki/intel/pentium_silver/n5000) Wikichip entry, the Silver N5000 is a 64-bit, not a 32-bit, chip.

Reply Score: 2

bert64 Member since:
2007-04-23

If the device has 2GB or less of ram then the 32bit version will probably run quite a bit faster...

Reply Score: 2

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

The impact of smaller 32-bit executables should be fairly minimal also with 2 GiB or less RAM. OTOH amd64 has more register which do make it faster...

Reply Score: 2

Absurdity
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Thu 5th Jul 2018 14:08 UTC
Bill Shooter of Bul
Member since:
2006-07-14

since classic Win32 applications will have a lot of trouble functioning properly on such processors.


There is nothing intrinsic to using the win32 api that makes applications slow. I guarantee if you grab a version of office 2000, it will be lightning fast on such processors.

Or are you really talking about modern win32 applications like MS office 2018? Well, that might not work well. But as you can see from this demonstration of the same freaking product, there can be very useful complex, applications written with win32 that don't suck on low end processors of today. No reason at all to limit it to windows store applications.

Reply Score: 4

Please oh please!
by fretinator on Thu 5th Jul 2018 14:57 UTC
fretinator
Member since:
2005-07-06

Just don't sell these with 32GB of storage. There as tons of Windows 10 devices out there with 32GB MMC and I just cringe. I bought one once, and you quickly run out of space, especially if you try to update it. It reminds me of all the cheap Androids that were sold with 4GB of storage - they quickly ran out of space.

No matter the price, if you see 32GB of storage and Windows, run!!

Reply Score: 3

Meh
by jbauer on Sun 8th Jul 2018 10:10 UTC
jbauer
Member since:
2005-07-06

Windows 10 alone is enough to guarantee a terrible user experience.

Reply Score: 2