Javascript Performance

Although smartphones are clearly headed for a life beyond simple messaging, web browsing and phone duties, we are still lacking the tools to measure performance in areas other than a component of web page rendering. Measuring javascript performance is one component of the entire web page rendering process but it's the most mature in terms of something we can benchmark.

Sunspider is quite possibly the most well known of these javascript tests, and it also happens to be one that runs extremely well on Medfield:

SunSpider Javascript Benchmark 0.9.1 - Stock Browser

The Lava phone is just a tad faster than the FFRD we tested at the beginning of the year, which may not sound like much but is positive given that Mike Bell was very confident that all Intel FFRD phones would deliver the same level of performance. The X900 ends up being the fastest smartphone we've ever tested here. Intel won't be able to claim that title in any other benchmark here today but it's an impressive feat for just now showing up to the game. It's also worth pointing out that Intel is able to do this well running on Gingerbread, while its closest competition are running on Ice Cream Sandwich with far improved JS performance built into the browser.

Why is Medfield so much faster here? It's tough to say, but likely a combination of reasons. Google's V8 engine has had a ton of optimization work done around x86 to begin with. By virtue of nearly every computing platform that runs a Google browser outside of Android being x86, it's natural that some of those optimizations are going to transition over into Android for x86 as well. That's actually a part of a much larger advantage Intel has should x86 take off in the smartphone space.

On a more technical hardware level, Intel claims its cache and memory interfaces are simply better than the competition here - which in turn results in a significant performance jump in Sunspider.

BrowserMark is another js benchmark in our suite, but here the advantage has been reduced to simply competitive with the fastest phones in our labs:

BrowserMark

For a single Atom core running Gingerbread, Medfield does very well here - roughly equaling the performance of NVIDIA's Tegra 3 (HTC One X) and Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 (HTC One S). It's quite possible that when running ICS Medfield will once again step ahead of the competition, but even if this is as good as it gets it's a good start. Keep in mind that we're looking at a 4 year old microprocessor architecture running on a n - 1 process from Intel.

Low Level FP Performance

Linpack isn't a great indication of smartphone performance, but it is a good test of the floating point capabilities of the CPUs in these SoCs. ARM has steadily been improving FP performance for the past few generations but we're going to see a big jump to Krait/A15. As most client smartphone workloads are integer based and those that are FP heavy end up relying on the GPU, an advantage here doesn't tell us much today (particularly because Linpack isn't running native code but rather atop Dalvik) other than how speedy the FPUs are:

Linpack - Single-threaded

Single threaded FP performance is very good on Medfield as you'd expect, but a bit lower than Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4. As Krait is a wider, out-of-order architecture with a fairly reasonable FPU the 13% advantage here isn't too surprising. Compared to anything A9 based however, Medfield is obviously quicker.

Linpack, like many scientific workloads, scales up to multiple cores quite nicely. If we spawn as many threads as there are logical cores (2 for Intel and Qualcomm, but 4 for NVIDIA's Tegra 3) we can see how Intel's single-core Atom fares in a multithreaded world:

Linpack - Multi-threaded

There's roughly no change in Medfield's performance here, which will be an issue for any compute heavy, very threaded application. Luckily for Intel, not many of these types of applications exist on smartphones today, but it is a limitation of this first generation Medfield. Hyper Threading is a great way to increase CPU utilization power efficiently, but for some workloads there's no replacement for more cores. Snapdragon S4 does extremely well here in the HTC One S by being a combination of two cores and having a much faster FPU.

BaseMark OS

Rightware's BaseMark OS is a general purpose benchmark designed to better simulate overall Android performance. It includes a heavily threaded benchmark, file IO tests, and compression/decompression tasks that all contribute to its overall score. We only have results from the HTC One S (Snapdragon S4), One X (Tegra 3), Galaxy Nexus (OMAP 4) and the Lava phone (Medfield) here:

BaseMark OS Performance

At least in BaseMark OS, Intel's performance is distinctly modern although not at the head of the class. Differences in performance here extend beyond the SoC and are obviously influenced by things like NAND selection as well as the OS on the device. For many of these benchmarks I'm very curious to see how they change with the arrival of Ice Cream Sandwich.

Vellamo

Vellamo is a Qualcomm developed benchmark that focuses primarily on browser performance, both in rendering and UI speed. The results are heavily influenced by the browser used on the device being tested. As a whole Vellamo isn't always indicative of whether or not you're going to get a smooth browsing experience, but it's another datapoint that captures more than just javascript performance. The Qualcomm-developed nature of the benchmark is always cause for concern, but even if you exclude the Snapdragon results the benchmark can be useful:

Vellamo Overall Score

Once again we have a good showing from Intel. The X900 and its Medfield soul aren't the fastest, but Intel's first smartphone is in the top three and faster than almost everything that came before it. Much of the advantage here actually comes from the Google V8 benchmark, another js test, which we've already established Intel can do quite well in.

Flash Rendering Performance

These days nearly all high-end smartphones (I refuse to call them superphones) can render Flash smoothly. Thankfully Intel's platform is no exception as the X900 delivers a competitive showing in our Flash benchmark:

CraftyMindFlash Rendering Performance

Android on x86 and Binary Translation GPU Performance
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  • jed22281 - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - link

    Vanilla MeeGo is nothing like MeeGo-Harmattan (aka Maemo6x) on the N9...
    The only relation Tizen has with Vanilla MeeGo, is that it's structured/administered in a similar fashion.
    Plus many of the same partners involved in MeeGo, have moved to Tizen...
    The developmental libraries/environment is totally different, although there's still some tacit support for Qt.
    MeR+Nemo (& other UX's e.g. Cordia/Plasma etc) is what has supplanted the original MeeGo.
    And yes you could in theory run MeR+Nemo or Tizen on this or other Medfied devices.
    But I'm not so sure they'd necessarily be any less locked down than ARM-based ones.
    Locked boot loader etc... But once that's out of the way, they'd have their advantages.
    Reply
  • ironargonaut - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - link

    From what I see the only phones that best Intel in performance are not on the battery chart.

    If a phone computes something faster, will that not mean it can do more in less time? Thus, while the artificial surfing battery time is "average", wouldn't I be able to surf more pages and run more apps also in that same time period?

    What is the power/performance metric?
    Reply
  • fm123 - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - link

    There is no clear way to tell from this, given that the CPU is likely ramping up and down. The other phones are not listed, I suspect, as they are new. They actually include newer battery saving features, so you can't see that yet on this comparison. Reply
  • ironargonaut - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - link

    So,then could I safely say, that since battery life is not listed here, of the phones in both tests Intel has the highest cpu performance with midrange battery life.

    If they are not going to test the batteries of the same phones then you shouldn't have them listed on the same graph for CPU power. IMHO

    It's like a Ford commercial saying Ford fullsize has better gas mileage then Chevy, more towing power than Dodge, more cargo space then Toyota etc..

    Which if written the way of this article is more like Ford worse gas mileage than Dodge, less towing power than Toyota, less cargo space then Chevy etc...

    All are misleading. IMHO
    Reply
  • mcquade181 - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - link

    For the benefit of all us older technophiles with slightly less than perfect hearing, could you please, please test the earpiece volume when testing cellular phones?

    I had to ditch my otherwise great Nokia N8 because of its ridiculously low earpiece volume, which made it unusable in anything but perfectly quiet environments.

    The other very useful test would be how well the phone operates in both voice and data modes in areas at the fringe of network coverage, i.e. the phone’s range. The Samsung Galaxy S2 does not fare that well in this test and is no where near as good as my old Nokia N8. Surprisingly, very, very few reviews of the Galaxy S2 mention how average its fringe reception is.
    Reply
  • cmdrdredd - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - link

    To not include any iphone results to the GLbenchmark except offscreen since offscreen looks so great on the iphone and the results I've obtained from around the web when running on the phone's screen show it not to be that much better than the fastest Android devices. How many people ac tually do GPU functions that aren't running on the phone's screen? Not many... Reply
  • suman - Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - link

    While BT is very cool technology, why is there so much hoopla around it. We released the Bluestacks App Player (beta) a month ago and have a binary translator embedded in it. We can run ARM NDK, X86 NDK, Dalvik applications side by side on our player. Reply
  • iamastranger - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - link

    Basically all are missing a point here. It is a FFRD with miimal changes done by LAVA. Wait for a OEM like Moto deliver x86 based phone. Reply
  • danielt - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - link

    Hoe come this site never review the amazing Galaxy Note? Reply
  • RajeevRaj - Thursday, April 26, 2012 - link

    One aspect not touched upon here is the price of the XOLO as compared to the other smartphones in the compare list. The XOLO costs INR 22000 ($420). Most other phones in the list (which are available in India) cost upwards of INR 27-28000 (>$520). As example the Samsung Galaxy S2 costs INR 28-30,000 ($550) and iPhones cost upward of INR 35000. (>$700)

    So if you factor in a price to features ratio also in the comparisons, the XOLO looks very attractive for a smartphone buyer in India.
    Reply

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