The SoC: TI's OMAP 4460

The launch platform for Ice Cream Sandwich was TI's OMAP 4460. Unlike previous Android releases however, it seems that other SoCs will see their ICS ports done in a much quicker manner. It took a very long time for Honeycomb to be ported to other SoCs, whereas a number of companies have already demonstrated ICS running on their hardware (e.g. Intel, NVIDIA). If this is the case going forward, the launch vehicle for a new Android version may not mean what it used to.

The OMAP 4460 is a fairly standard, yet full featured dual-core ARM Cortex A9 SoC. You get two A9 cores complete with MPE (NEON support), behind a shared 1MB L2 cache. The SoC features two 32-bit LPDDR2 memory channels as well. The GPU is provided by Imagination Technologies in the form of a PowerVR SGX 540.

Max clocks for the OMAP 4460 are 1.5GHz for the CPUs and 384MHz for the GPU. As with all SoCs, all final clocks are OEM customizable to hit their desired point on the performance/battery life curve. Google and Samsung settled on 1.2GHz for the cores and 307MHz for the GPU, both exactly 80% of the OMAP 4460's max frequencies. Sprint recently announced its Galaxy Nexus would run at 1.5GHz. It's quite possible that we'll see a jump in GPU clocks there as well since the two may run in lockstep.

From a CPU standpoint the 4460 is competitive with pretty much everything else on the market (A5, Exynos, Tegra 2, Snapdragon S3). The 4460 does have more memory bandwidth than Tegra 2, Tegra 3 and Snapdragon, but it's comparable to Apple's A5 and Samsung's Exynos 4210. It's the GPU that's a bit dated at this point; the PowerVR SGX 540 typically delivers Tegra 2-class performance. A quick look at GLBenchmark and Basemark results echoes our findings:

GLBenchmark 2.1 - Egypt - Offscreen (720p)
 
GLBenchmark 2.1 - Pro - Offscreen (720p)
 
RightWare Basemark ES 2.0 V1 - Taiji
 
RightWare Basemark ES 2.0 V1 - Hoverjet

At 720p, which happens to be the GN's native resolution, the OMAP 4460 is much faster than Tegra 2. It's also important to note just how much faster Tegra 3's GPU is by comparison.

I understand why Google didn't wait for a Krait based SoC, however I don't believe the OMAP 4460 was the best bet given the launch timeframe of the Galaxy Nexus. Based on performance alone, Google should have picked Tegra 3 as the launch platform for ICS. GPU performance is much better than the SGX 540 and there's comparable CPU performance. It's possible that Google needed the memory bandwidth offered by OMAP 4, but we'll find out for sure soon enough as the first Tegra 3 device (ASUS' TF Prime) is slated to get ICS this week.

I'm also less concerned about power consumption being an issue since NVIDIA added full power gating to all of the cores in Tegra 3. With a conservative enough power profile Google could have guaranteed battery life similar to OMAP 4460 out of Tegra 3.

I get the feeling that Google wasn't very pleased with NVIDIA after Honeycomb and chose to work with TI this time around for reasons other than absolute performance. If it weren't for the fact that Tegra 3 and other SoCs appear to be getting ICS in fairly short form I'd be more upset over this decision. To be honest, the choice of SoC simply hurts the Galaxy Nexus as a phone. If I were you, I'd wait for a Krait based device.

The Galaxy Nexus - Hardware and Aesthetics Camera - Stills and Video
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  • Jingato - Friday, January 20, 2012 - link

    Why even bother posting a review of a phone that is over a month old? If you want to be a real news /review site you should of had a review the next day. There is no reason not to. period.

    get your shit together
    Reply
  • tipoo - Friday, January 20, 2012 - link

    Because they go more in depth than most reviews out there. The ones that post reviews the day after a product launch don't find nearly as many flaws and details as the AT team. There are plenty of other sites for quickie reviews, I like Anandtech for in-depth. Reply
  • Omid.M - Sunday, January 22, 2012 - link

    That's unnecessarily harsh. If you're used to the same day "reviews" of Engadget--i.e. NOTHING technical, totally subjective measurements of everything, in the name of being the "first" with a review--then go ahead and keep reading Engadget.

    Brian and Anand review EVERYTHING in depth: basebands, screens, software, they even have supercurio who is well known dev in Android community for his take on audio processing. Plus, Anand and Brian were covering CES.

    Anand, Brian,

    Great job as always. I have a chance to pick up a Nexus LTE for $500 (since I don't have an upgrade) but will hold off; might go with iPhone 4S until Krait or iPhone 5 comes out and (hopefully) blows me away.

    -Omid

    @moids
    Reply
  • Harbler - Sunday, January 22, 2012 - link

    Why even bother posting a comment if you're not going to read the review? A cursory perusal of the index alone would have answered your question.

    Anand & Co. take the time required to turn in top-notch, in-depth reviews, and they've been doing it for longer than your favorite gadget review site has even been in business. Anandtech is, in every sense, a *real* review site.

    If wholly subjective reviews of devices (provided within hours of launch) are your idea of informative reading, then please return to Engadget or whatever site you strayed from. Unlike Anadtech, sites of the sort you're looking for are a dime a dozen, and you'll find them substantially better suited to your attention span.
    Reply
  • vortmax2 - Friday, January 20, 2012 - link

    Can Brian or Anand comment on why they believe Samsung used an OMAP 4460 when they only clocked it to 4430 levels? Also, devs at XDA are having a hard time overclocking it to the 1.5GHz/384MHz max values. Any ideas? Thanks! -Jamie Reply
  • Tripp1717 - Friday, January 20, 2012 - link

    Ive had it for over a month now and i upgraded from a galaxy s (epic 4g on Sprint). Watching Blue ray movies i put on my phone are simply amazing. Ive never seen anything better and i work in the electronics dept at sears. Its better than the samsung 7000 led screen. Overall it took a few weeks to really get used to Andriod 4.02 but it is an amazing improvment from 2.3.5. I cant think of too many flaws here. LTE is SOOO much fater than WiMax! i get about 25-30 MB/s when using speedtest. Upload speeds are very fast too, ave. is around 10ish MB/s. Battery life is fantastic compared to my epic 4g. At work i set my ohone to data restrict so i only get calls and texts because in my store there is NO signal at all and after 8 hours from 100% it will drop to 85%. My Epic wouldnt make it through the work day. 720p Super AMOLED+ really makes this phone a winner. Google and samsung working together is a great combo. My ONLY complaint is i wish i had an 8 or higher megapixel camera. But with the added features its pretty darn decent. No complaints except there are a few programs that are still not compatible with 4.0+ (HBOGO). I highly recomend this over any phone out or anything slated to come out for awhile anyways. Reply
  • Amit P - Friday, January 20, 2012 - link

    I'm waiting for my THIRD Nexus to come in. I had screen problems with the first two. The screen wasn't as bright as my brothers Nexus with the same settings. The colors weren't as vivid either. Reply
  • Bristecom - Friday, January 20, 2012 - link

    Thats why I didnt exchange mine. Even though it has a dead pixel, aside from that, the screen looks great. So I fear getting one with no dead pixels but poor brightness or colors. This screen is the best Ive ever seen. Other super AMOLED plus displays Ive seen have off colors that bother me. Reply
  • Bristecom - Friday, January 20, 2012 - link

    I have to say, mine has a dead green subpixel and it is very clear to me even from a distance with green or white screens. Regardless, I didnt bother exchanging it. -Sent from my Galaxy Nexus Reply
  • medi01 - Saturday, January 21, 2012 - link

    A question, I have Galaxy S so can't compare.
    Could you please comment on whether black is actually black on Nexus as it is on Galaxy's?

    I'm asking because dear objective Anand managed to make a photo of it that makes it look gray ("Display" page)
    Reply

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