System Performance

To see how the new CPUs and memory subsystem translate into more real system performance, we move onto more representative tests such as PCMark. PCMark’s performance is affected by several factors: not only does raw performance of the hardware count but also we need to consider the individual system’s software stack. We’ve seen large differences between Android OS major versions where the improvements of the Android Runtime can be directly visible in subtests such as the Writing test. Also a SoC’s DVFS schemes and schedulers can have huge impacts on “performance-latency”, meaning how fast the CPUs can ramp up a workload. This directly translates in a lot more performance in several of PCMark’s subtests as in the default settings none of the tests actually represent the pure performance of the CPU if it were locked at maximum frequency on the performance cores. The results of the tests are also overall a good representation of “snappiness” of a device.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Web Browsing 2.0

In the web browsing test the Snapdragon 845 QRD manages to outpace the Pixel 2 XL by 20%. Here we’re also looking at performance across devices with different OS versions. The Google devices are running Android 8.1 while the Samsung devices were tested with Android 7.0. The Mate 10 Pro runs Android 8.0 while the Mate 9 still had 7.0. The Qualcomm QRD we tested ran Android 8.0.

Again the performance increase over Snapdragon 835 devices isn’t all that great. DynamiQ allows for far more efficient thread transitions between the CPU cores and subsequently I expected Qualcomm to take advantage of this through more aggressive scheduling resulting in more than just a 20% increase. The difference between the Mate 9 and Mate 10 here is a good example of what a software configuration change can bring in terms of performance (both devices employ same performance CPU configurations). Samsung’s Exynos’ SoCs still use GTS scheduling and have non-optimal performance-latency resulting in bad scores, amplified by the fact that Samsung’s memory performance is also underwhelming when compared to the Snapdragon and Kirin SoCs.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Data ManipulationPCMark Work 2.0 - Writing 2.0

The Data Manipulation and Writing 2.0 tests make heavy use of the Android runtime and APIs and also a very memory latency sensitive. Between the best showings of the Snapdragon 835 variant of the S8 and the Pixel 2 XL in each respective benchmark, the Snapdragon QRD845 showed conservative increases of 8 to 14%. The Exynos SoCs lacklustre performance is again hampered by software and by bad memory performance.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Video Editing

The video editing test is PCMark’s weak-point as it’s bottlenecked by things such as OS API overhead, and why we see tight grouping of performance results across a large range of SoCs. The Snapdragon 845 ends up high, but below the Pixel 2 XL. I would not put much weight on the results of this test as they’re not necessarily representative. Futuremark claims that the test is a lot more sensitive in mid- and low-range devices which can exhibit performance issues.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Photo Editing 2.0

The photo editing test makes heavy use of Renderscript and use GPU acceleration to apply various effects on an image set. The QRD845 here shines as it’s able to showcase a 38% performance improvement over the Pixel 2 XL. Again the test not solely tests the raw performance of the system but also how optimized it is in terms of the software stack. This can be seen in the Kirin vs Exynos devices as Huawei’s phones vastly outperform Samsung’s devices in this test.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Performance

Overall PCMark’s performance score for the QRD845 increases by 17% over the Pixel 2 XL. Disregarding the video test, we see a similar scenario as in the synthetic tests as the new SoC’s CPU performance increases are lower than we had expected. Still the Snapdragon 845 is able to top the charts and should adequately power 2018’s flagship devices.

For 2018 we are reviewing our mobile benchmarking suite and altering some of the benchmarks we use. One of the changes in the way we benchmark devices is that we’re moving away from standalone browser and rather are benchmarking the OS’s WebView implementations. In general this seems to be a better choice for testing device experience as there is a lot of content that is being consumed via WebView windows. We also avoid the argument about different browser performance and since Google has now made WebView an updatable Play Store component we should also have valid comparisons older devices and systems. On the iOS side we do the same as we now benchmark browser tests within a WkWebView shell.

WebXPRT 2015 - OS WebView

Starting off with WebXPRT 2015 for a last time before we’ll retire it in favour of WebXPRT 3, we see the QRD845 performing fantastically. Here the 44% performance increase over the Pixel 2 XL is a lot more in line with what we had expected of the new SoC. The QRD845 is even able to catch up a lot with Apple’s newest A11 and Monsoon cores in this test.

To keep up with the ever changing landscape of the developing web, we’re also retiring past JavaScript benchmarks in favour of a brand new and more representative benchmark developed by the WebKit team and welcomed by Google; Speedometer 2.0.

Speedometer 2.0 - OS WebView

Here the Snapdragon 845 showcased another healthy performance increase of 37% over the Snapdragon 835 devices. Apple’s superior JavaScript performance can be attributed to a much faster and more optimized Nitro engine while Google’s V8 has only seen meagre improvements over the years. Notable is the Apple A11’s massive performance jump over the A10 – vastly increasing the distance to Android devices.

CPU & Memory Subsystem GPU Performance & Power Estimates


View All Comments

  • gamertaboo - Monday, February 12, 2018 - link

    Well, you sure see wildly different scores if you compare them using Geekbench. 4260 vs 1998 on single core, and 10,221 vs 6765 on multi-core I believe. Apple's chips are always faster, always. It's literally the one thing Apple at the very least, always does well. Reply
  • Gk12kung - Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - link

    Dude your extremely mistaken , the processors in the x and 8 are differently binned . Since apples GPU is inhouse this year they couldn't get enough high quality GPU in time so the x uses higher binned gpu than 8 so the higher performance and the x uses faster ram than 8 which is also a factor in GPU scores . I've used a 8 and x there is rarely any throttling the d220AP is the lower GPU revision used in 8 and d221ap is the x version with higher bin GPU Reply
  • BronzeProdigy - Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - link

    The GFX bench is also wrong. The A11's GPU is behind. If you look at the sections for the X you'll see N/A. Look at the SD835/5T scores and you'll see they match up but the score on that test either doesn't exist or doesn't match the X's score. This is because they failed to note that the GFXBench has different versions (e.g. 3.1, 2.7, 3.0) so they wrote the wrong scores thinking that the scores on the X were something they're not.
  • peevee - Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - link

    Except in real life users do not run SPEC for long time. They load and start apps, or process photos. It all takes less than a second. Reply
  • rocky12345 - Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - link

    Yea because no one ever plays any games on theirs mobile devices which can go from 5 minutes to 5 hours of use and will heat up any device no matter who makes them. So if you have devices from a mobile maker that is known to heat up & then throttle from that heat then yep it won't be as fast as in the benches. I don't care if Apples makes them or Samsung it happens to every device but it happens worse on some than it does to others. Reply
  • Stochastic - Monday, February 12, 2018 - link

    This looks like a nice, albeit not earth shattering overhaul to the 835.

    Any chance we'll see a Google SoC in the Pixel 3 this year? Or is it more realistic to expect that in the Pixel 4/5? It's a bit boring seeing Snapdragon SoCs in practically all Android flagships.

    Also, what's up with Chrome's lackluster Javascript performance? You mention that the Nitro engine Apple uses is much better optimized. You would think with all the competition in the browser space these days and Google's vested interest in the future of the web that they would push Javascript performance further.
  • Jon Tseng - Monday, February 12, 2018 - link

    Not going to happen for a bunch of reasons, not least bc Google doesn't have baseband IP. Reply
  • Dr. Swag - Monday, February 12, 2018 - link

    I don't think we'll see Google SoCs unless pixel really gains market share. Not worth it to design and fabricate soc if you only sell a few millions phones. Reply
  • Stochastic - Monday, February 12, 2018 - link

    Yes, but this would help them gain marketshare. They could perhaps even license the SoC to other OEMs in order to advance the Android hardware ecosystem as a whole. See this: Reply
  • techconc - Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - link

    Regarding Javascript performance, this article is placing far too much emphasis on the Javascript engine. Yes, Apple's Nitro engine is ahead of Google's V8 engine. However, the majority of the speed difference comes down to the fact that Javascript is inherently single threaded. (Yes, I know work is being do to attempt to address this, but it's not there yet). That, coupled with the fact that Apple's single core performance is WAY ahead of everyone else on ARM is why you see such a big difference in performance. Reply

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