Earlier this morning we published our first impressions on Apple's iPad 2, including analysis on camera quality and a dive into the architecture behind Apple's A5 SoC. Our SoC investigation mostly focused on CPU performance, which we found to be a healthy 50% faster than the A4 in the original iPad - at least in web browsing. We were able to exceed Apple's claim of up to 2x performance increase in some synthetic tests, but even a 50% increase in javascript and web page loading performance isn't anything to be upset about. We briefly touched on the GPU: Imagination Technologies' PowerVR SGX 543MP2. Here Apple is promising up to a 9x increase in performance, but it's something we wanted to investigate.

Architecturally the 543MP2 has more than twice the compute horsepower of the SGX 535 used in Apple's A4. Each shader pipeline can execute twice the number of instructions per clock as the SGX 535, and then there are four times as many pipes in an SGX 543MP2 as there are in a 535. There are also efficiency improvements as well. Hidden surface removal works at twice the rate in the 543MP2 as it did in the 535. There's also a big boost in texture filtering performance as you'll see below.

As always we turn to GLBenchmark 2.0, a benchmark crafted by a bunch of developers who either have or had experience doing development work for some of the big dev houses in the industry. We'll start with some of the synthetics.

Over the course of PC gaming evolution we noticed a significant increase in geometry complexity. We'll likely see a similar evolution with games in the ultra mobile space, and as a result this next round of ultra mobile GPUs will seriously ramp up geometry performance.

Here we look at two different geometry tests amounting to the (almost) best and worst case triangle throughput measured by GLBenchmark 2.0. First we have the best case scenario - a textured triangle:

Geometry Throughput - Textured Triangle Test

The original iPad could manage 8.7 million triangles per second in this test. The iPad 2? 29 million. An increase of over 3x. Developers with existing titles on the iPad could conceivably triple geometry complexity with no impact on performance on the iPad 2.

Now for the more complex case - a fragment lit triangle test:

Geometry Throughput - Fragment Lit Triangle Test

The performance gap widens. While the PowerVR SGX 535 in the A4 could barely break 4 million triangles per second in this test, the PowerVR SGX 543MP2 in the A5 manages just under 20 million. There's just no competition here.

I mentioned an improvement in texturing performance earlier. The GLBenchmark texture fetch test puts numbers to that statement:

Fill Rate - Texture Fetch

We're talking about nearly a 5x increase in texture fetch performance. This has to be due to more than an increase in the amount of texturing hardware. An improvement in throughput? Increase in memory bandwidth? It's tough to say without knowing more at this point.

Apple iPad vs. iPad 2
  Apple iPad (PowerVR SGX 535) Apple iPad 2 (PowerVR SGX 543MP2)
Array test - uniform array access
3412.4 kVertex/s
3864.0 kVertex/s
Branching test - balanced
2002.2 kShaders/s
11412.4 kShaders/s
Branching test - fragment weighted
5784.3 kFragments/s
22402.6kFragments/s
Branching test - vertex weighted
3905.9 kVertex/s
3870.6 kVertex/s
Common test - balanced
1025.3 kShaders/s
4092.5 kShaders/s
Common test - fragment weighted
1603.7 kFragments/s
3708.2 kFragments/s
Common test - vertex weighted
1516.6 kVertex/s
3714.0 kVertex/s
Geometric test - balanced
1276.2 kShaders/s
6238.4 kShaders/s
Geometric test - fragment weighted
2000.6 kFragments/s
6382.0 kFragments/s
Geometric test - vertex weighted
1921.5 kVertex/s
3780.9 kVertex/s
Exponential test - balanced
2013.2 kShaders/s
11758.0 kShaders/s
Exponential test - fragment weighted
3632.3 kFragments/s
11151.8 kFragments/s
Exponential test - vertex weighted
3118.1 kVertex/s
3634.1 kVertex/s
Fill test - texture fetch
179116.2 kTexels/s
890077.6 kTexels/s
For loop test - balanced
1295.1 kShaders/s
3719.1 kShaders/s
For loop test - fragment weighted
1777.3 kFragments/s
6182.8 kFragments/s
For loop test - vertex weighted
1418.3 kVertex/s
3813.5 kVertex/s
Triangle test - textured
8691.5 kTriangles/s
29019.9 kTriangles/s
Triangle test - textured, fragment lit
4084.9 kTriangles/s
19695.8 kTriangles/s
Triangle test - textured, vertex lit
6912.4 kTriangles/s
20907.1 kTriangles/s
Triangle test - white
9621.7 kTriangles/s
29771.1 kTriangles/s
Trigonometric test - balanced
1292.6 kShaders/s
3249.9 kShaders/s
Trigonometric test - fragment weighted
1103.9 kFragments/s
3502.5 kFragments/s
Trigonometric test - vertex weighted
1018.8 kVertex/s
3091.7 kVertex/s
Swapbuffer Speed
600
599

Enough with the synthetics - how much of an improvement does all of this yield in the actual GLBenchmark 2.0 game tests? Oh it's big.

GLBenchmark 2.0 Egypt & PRO Performance
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  • tzhu07 - Sunday, March 13, 2011 - link

    Trying to convince the other side that they're wrong when it comes to iOS vs Android debates is like trying to convert someone's religion or political affiliation. Plus, let's never forget this graphic:

    http://johns-jokes.com/afiles/images/arguing_on_th...
    Reply
  • spambonk - Sunday, March 13, 2011 - link

    It doesn't make sense that there would be such a difference - isn't it more likely the benchmarking program doesn't use both cores when its doing whatever it is doing. Reply
  • mrdeez - Sunday, March 13, 2011 - link

    I think you may have something there...this doesn't m ake any sense that the xoom would be so low. Nvidia has been known for graphics, especially open gl. Something tells me that some updates are in order and if this is true and this is the best gaming that the xoom can do then don't buy one if you plan on gaming on it. I for the life of me hate every touchscreen game that I've ever played. Reply
  • video guy - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    Beyond H.264 that is accelerated in HW, i am curious to know if anyone has made any benchmarks for other codecs on iPad2 such as VC-1 (Microsoft camp, that will not deliver a tablet any time soon) or WebM (Google camp thta does not seem very strong on Video...). especially with the powervr sgx543mp2 core to accelerate some of the video primitives. Reply
  • metafor - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    I think you're vastly overestimating the role of the GPU in codec work. Almost all mobile SoC's have either dedicated fixed-logic for such things or power-efficient DSP's. Very little of the work is actually done on the GPU. Reply
  • PeteH - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    Very true. No one wants to run a power-hungry GPU more often than absolutely necessary. Reply
  • professor78 - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    I see alot of this refers to Tegra comparions. This is incorrect.
    The Xoom is one deice that is currently un-optimised for a set of benchmarking tools. Check out other Tegra devices - even the £250 Advent Vega - It scores about the same, and in some cases MORE than the iPAD 2.
    So Tegra and the New A5 chip are about the same.

    Maybe Anand shoould run a retaction about Tegra comparisons, or test the iPAD up against a device that is half the price!
    Reply
  • GnillGnoll - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    The Advent Vega gets 20.8 fps in GLBenchmark 2.0 Egypt and 43.8 fps in GLBenchmark 2.0 Pro (see http://www.glbenchmark.com/phonedetails.jsp?benchm... ).

    iPad 2 gets 44/57.6 fps while rendering 28% more pixels. That's in no way "about the same".
    Reply
  • spin26 - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    good job apple for making the tablet space competitive
    i hope prices will go down faster than expected.

    NVIDIA is a graphics company, im pretty sure it can catch up on this performance gap.
    Android 3.0 is a version 0 release, optimizations can come just like it did on version 2, by that it can minimize the gap on performance. the Xoom is a great tablet, it just need to be priced reasonable to compete here as it no longer deserves the premium its asking for, ipad 2 is better in many ways.
    Reply
  • joeldm - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    . . . here in Atlanta I'm seeing iPads everywhere. Parents using them while at their kids' soccer games, at the dojo where I've seen a number of parents and practitioners using them, at the Atlanta airport there were at every gate and in Albuquerque's airport when I flew into there and yes, at Starbucks and other, less well-known coffee shops around town.

    They don't sell 14 million iPads and "no-one has them". The smell of "I hate Apple" fanboies is getting ripe on this list . . . . I don't have one yet, but I will be buying an iPad2. I have three kids in school and one in college, the device is just too darned useful in an educational setting to ignore. And that's where some crazy growth is going to come, in education.

    So all you anti-Apple whiners, it must suck being you these days, eh? ; - )

    JoeL
    Reply

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