Performance

Architecturally there's no difference between the AP20H in the Optimus 2X and the Atrix 4G. You still have the same two ARM Cortex A9 cores running at 1GHz.

In our Optimus 2X review I talked about PoP (Package on Package) stacking used by SoC vendors to integrate DRAM without requiring more board real estate. The beauty of PoP stacking is that you can integrate the DRAM after both it and the SoC have already been manufactured. It's a package bonding exercise, not a fabrication one.


Package on Package (DRAM on top, SoC on bottom)—source: statschippack.com

The result is that making custom combinations of SoC and DRAM isn't as tall of an order as making a custom SoC with three CPU cores or more cache. The latter can only be done with a tremendous investment in capital.

For the Atrix 4G, Motorola wanted a Tegra 2 paired with a 1GB LPDDR2 DRAM. Most SoCs these days only incorporate 512MB.

The performance benefit of a 1GB DRAM in any individual benchmark is negligible. In fact, normal smartphone usage (even with multitasking) doesn't require more than 512MB of system memory at this point. You can get close, but it's pretty challenging to go over given the requirements of Android 2.2.1 and popular apps today. As a result you won't see the 1GB of memory give Motorola an edge in any benchmarks.

Rightware BrowserMark

It's only in the heaviest multitasking scenarios or when using Motorola's webtop app that the extra memory comes in handy. This is something I'm going to be investigating more over the coming weeks. I haven't had enough time to come up with any interesting usage models that are benchmarkable between the Optimus 2X and Atrix 4G to quantify the difference in performance for smartphone users.

SunSpider Javascript Benchmark 0.9

Despite the extra DRAM, Motorola is actually at a disadvantage in many benchmarks. The motoBlur UI enhancements and skinning do impact performance. Even after using a task killer to stop all non-system processes, some components of motoBlur will automatically restart. Thankfully two Cortex A9s are enough to hide this from being a problem in the day to day usage of the phone, but it does mean that the Atrix 4G sometimes benchmarks slightly lower than the Optimus 2X. It's like bloatware that ships on some OEM PCs, just much more tightly integrated and not as easy to get rid of. I hesitate to make that comparison though because, like I said, the performance impact is minimal.

Linpack

Real World Performance Impressions

The Optimus 2X went straight to Brian, so I didn't get a chance to play with it running the latest software build. When I first laid hands on LG's Tegra 2 phone a few months ago it was running a much, much earlier software build and real world performance wasn't representative of what we have today. To make a long story short, I'd never spent any quality time with a Cortex A9 based smartphone running a mature build of Android.

Instead I had to listen to Brian talk about how fast the Optimus 2X was, and how it would be his favorite Android phone if the review OS build was just more stable. The only Android phones I have in my office are a Nexus One, an Epic 4G and a Streak. I longed for something faster.

After using the Atrix 4G as my only smartphone I must say, I completely agree with Brian's assessment. The dual Cortex A9s in NVIDIA's Tegra 2 make Android so much better. Even though the Atrix 4G is only running Froyo (2.2.1) it felt like the fastest Android phone I'd ever used, including my brief stint with the Nexus S.

You see the Nexus S's partially GPU accelerated build of Android (Gingerbread) makes scrolling through your list of apps buttery smooth. Even the Atrix 4G lacks that. Every now and then you get a stutter or hiccup, but it's usually pretty good.

Where the Nexus S falls short however is in actual application response time and in performance when switching between apps. Trips back to the home screen, launching new apps and even interacting with apps all feels quicker on the Atrix 4G than anything sans-Tegra 2.

We tend to get spoiled by super fast hardware given the nature of our work. As a result, when things don't perform up to par we're a lot more sensitive. If you find yourself in the same boat, then (at least today) Tegra 2 may be the only way to scratch that itch.

By no means is this SoC perfect. A pair of Cortex A9s is still pretty slow in our universe, but within the snowglobe of SoCs that currently run Android it's a noticeable improvement. I suspect this is how things will go for the next few years. I'll likely have the same feelings after using my first Cortex A15 based phone, and whatever comes after that. It's the beauty of the golden age of ILP: performance gains are easy to come by and are very noticeable.

The qHD Screen: A PenTile LCD? The Webtop App: Atrix as a PC
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  • Shadowmaster625 - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    I was confused when I saw that price. Why would anyone pay that? Then it got me wondering... are we not able to simply plug the phone into our own monitor using the appropriate hdmi cable? And then plug in a usb keyboard and mouse? Who needs a even a $190 dock? This article didnt really explain why. I've got 3 usb keyboards and just as many mice laying around. The last thing I want to do is buy another to satisfy their need for revenue. Reply
  • bill4 - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    The whole controversy over pentile matrix just scream of something Apple fanboys kicked up to attack the competition. Here's guessing both of the editors you mentioned carry an iPhone everyday. Was I right? Gee, what a shock. They probably also love the "retina display" even though that was the biggest bunch of marketing hooey ever. For multiple reasons, not least of which scientifically the resolution has to be a good deal higher than 960X640 for the human eye to not be able to make out pixels at the distance the iPhone is actually used.

    The Apple bias is the media is just insane. Almost every single tech editor in the world just happens to have an iPhone as his personal phone, even though it's the worst phone on the market.

    Anyways my point is, NOBODY in the real world cares about this. I have a Captivate, and I NEVER would have suspected any problem with the display if I hadn't read about it, in fact I still didn't know what the problem supposedly was after reading about it!

    I'm afraid I dont know if I can go back from Super Amoled, the off angle viewing is just so good, when I look at my friends Droid X or iPhone, they just look so washed out and terrible. Even though I'm not exactly thrilled with some aspects of Samsung, and was considering picking up an Atrix or Inspire, the sad fact is I seriously am beginning to wonder if I'll ever be able to go back to a regular LCD on a phone now, they just look so bad.
    Reply
  • bill4 - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    ok, maybe not the biggest bunch of marketing hooey ever, but you get the idea. Reply
  • RaLX - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    Well I would say you're the one behaving as a fanboy...

    Fer me the iPhone display (even if the name is marketing) has a superior definition for text and images and thanks to it being IPS technology the colors are more natural and viewing angles are very good for a LCD (even though poorer than AMOLED of course).

    I hated Nexus One fuzzy text and everybody it's entitle to their opinions without having to be called names. I can tell you that there are persons like me that doesn't stand the grilled texture vision of this kind of LCD and even though I could live with that I will avoid it whenever I can.
    Reply
  • jaredtrobinson - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    lol I agree w/ you.. so much rage from that guy :)

    Anand stated clearly it was a matter of preference. I have an OG Droid and friend has a Dinc, girlfriend has a DroidX. I am not a fan on the Dinc when reading text. The TFTs to me just seem much more crisp
    Reply
  • JCheng - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    I personally care about this a lot. I went to the AT&T store to buy a Captivate and was very distracted by the display's flyscreen effect--that was before I ever heard of pentile (which I learned about after getting home and googling what was wrong with these screens).

    To me the effect is NOT subtle and is very annoying, it's a dealbreaker for me. I thought my next phone was going to be the Atrix but looks like it will be Inspire or Galaxy S II instead.
    Reply
  • TareX - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    Ditto. I was almost sure the Atrix was gonna be my next phone. I mean, LCD PenTile???? Bad call.

    I love SAMOLED PLUS, but I hate Samsung's TouchWiz.
    Reply
  • TheMan876 - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    I'm currently an OG Droid user and I was thinking of getting a Droid BIONIC (almost the same as an Atrix) when it comes out. But this Pentile screen may make me reconsider.

    I was really happy to read that there would be a higher res screen on these phones, but I hate that Pentile matrix whenever I see it on my friend's Galaxy S phone. Bugs the crap out of me and I'm by no means an Apple fanboy.
    Reply
  • bill4 - Sunday, February 13, 2011 - link

    /AntoineDodsonvoice

    How can tech editors actually cover this product and not instantly realize how stupid it is?

    Hmm, well I can hook it to my phone and it's like a real netbook!

    Hey guess what, Wal Mart sells 10.1", Win 7 starter, 160 GB HDD, netbooks for 249 all day every day.

    This laptop dock thingy, that isn't 1/4 as good or powerful as a real netbook,adds $300 to the price...plus I'm not sure but I thought I read somewhere the dock thing is $130 on top of that...but even if it's "only" 300, it makes no sense AT ALL. It's not even more portable.

    The only way this possibly makes sense, is if by using the phone hardware, you save money on the laptop dock thing, aka it was available for say, 99 dollars. Even then it's pretty dicey, as almost everybody probably already has a laptop, and a good portion already own a netbook as well.

    Plus, though it's technically illegal it works fine, with a tether program like PDA net, you can tether (even on an unrooted phone) without paying the extra 20, which you cant do with this dock AFAIK (since, it doesnt run windows to run the PDA client).
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Because the idea isn't really really dumb, the price is. Would you rather they ignore it until the inevitable price cuts are announced? Reply

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