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
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

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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  • Sherpak - Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - link

    You are comparing it to a first gen iPad, not an iPad 2
  • Ramshambo2001 - Thursday, March 17, 2011 - link

    Wholly Crap I will be able to play Angry Birds at like 2200 FPS!!!!!
  • giridhart - Friday, March 18, 2011 - link


    With Exynos platform reference design.
  • samirsshah - Sunday, March 20, 2011 - link

    and nothing less...
  • androideatsapples - Tuesday, May 17, 2011 - link

    ok this is like comparing ferrarie enzo to a mitsubishi lancer evo or like comparing a sport atv to a sport utility atv,.... sure look at the ferrari .. itll kill the lancer in a race but overall mitsubishi is better. better for overall situations, you dont see someone driving an enzo on rough roads.... its been built for a specific use....

    sport quad = built for speed cant go everywhere with it. Sure its fun but you dont have versatily of a sport utlity.. sport utility you can do everything a sport quad can and more!

    where am i going with this? the ferrari enzo and the sport quad are just like the ipads.... they do good in one field.... Xoom is good at everything. The reason apple rates so high... it has nothing with high cpu to run, no bonus features or anything. Comparing Apple os to honeycomb phones are jokes!

    The Honeycomb might rate lower but it is much better than Apple, much more versatile!( sport utility / lancer evo)

    Xoom kills ipad 2 ipad = gaming Xoom = EVERYTHING
  • fuzzy1969 - Friday, August 5, 2011 - link

    its not all about triangles and fill rates, nvidias background is with desktop gfx cards. anti alaising, shadows etc and extra fx i suspect the powervr would struggle with stuff like that (cpu work) lets compare some tegra 2 optimised stuff with the powervr cpu/gpu working overtime. from what ive seen the ipad2 runs well but the tegra 2 games have more of a destop feel.

  • fuzzy1969 - Saturday, August 6, 2011 - link

    im glad powervr are doing it again but ive got a sneaky feeling that the tegra 2 been based on a desktop gpu rather than just a polygon shifter has a few tricks up its sleeve and it seems they might be the SoC of choice for android (which is a shame cos samsungs exynos beats the a5 in polygon shifting). Demo's of the tegra3 are going around and it look impressive with dynamic lighting and stuff.
  • ninjamik - Monday, October 31, 2011 - link

    so what earlier posts mentioned earlier about bias testing was correct.

    if you look over at pc mag www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2381767,00.asp

    a more thorough test of the tegra 2 and A5&4 was done proving the moterola xoom (tegra 2)

    creamed the Ipad2 (a5) in two out of 3 tests. admittedly Ipad2 it did win this one!!!

    so which is better now?

    and android also just announced wireless HD video streaming to any tv with a hdmi dongle,

    the partys definitely heating up!
  • ninjamik - Monday, October 31, 2011 - link

    oh and excuse the second earlier and correct Motorola! it is 4am ;)

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