CPU Performance

Now that we’ve managed to take a good look at the changes between the A8 and A8X, we can get a good idea of what those differences translate to in some real world performance. While we’ve already seen pure CPU performance, such differences can be small when viewed from real applications. To this end, we use a few browser benchmarks and similar benchmarks. I definitely want to caution against comparing SoCs across platforms though, as rendering engines have a significant effect upon the performance of the device.

SunSpider 1.0.2 Benchmark  (Chrome/Safari/IE)

Kraken 1.1 (Chrome/Safari/IE)

Google Octane v2  (Chrome/Safari/IE)

WebXPRT (Chrome/Safari/IE)

BaseMark OS II - Overall

BaseMark OS II - System

BaseMark OS II - Memory

BaseMark OS II - Graphics

BaseMark OS II - Web

There's really not too much that needs to be said here, as the extra core and minor clock speed bump make for ridiculous amounts of performance. The A8X is class-leading here despite generally having fewer cores and lower clocks than the rest of the competition. However, in comparison to A8 we don't see a massive jump in performance. This seems to suggest that even a third core will invoke diminishing returns in general, although these changes mean that it's enough for the iPad Air 2 to be one of the fastest ARM-based devices on the market. One can see an odd regression in the Basemark OS II storage test, but this is likely to be production variances in NAND quality rather than anything notable.

Apple’s A8X SoC: Bigger and Badder GPU and NAND Performance


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  • wewewe - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    Just received mine. Previous was an Ipad 4th gens. One word ! Wow !! This is really magical. Its thin piece of glass with a processing power of a computer. I doubt there is a better tablet experience than this. Reply
  • Hyper72 - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    I replaced an iPad 2 (512MB RAM) with Air 2, imagine my wow experience...

    Yes I also enjoy the thinness more than I thought I would. Only using it ~ two hours a day means it has more than plenty juice in any case.
  • Klug4Pres - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    " While tablet applications that haven’t been properly scaled on the iPhone line are likely to look horrible due to the scaling factor used. While the same can and does happen with Android apps, it isn’t nearly as obvious because most of the scaling done is far more seamless and simply leaves a great deal of white space in the application that can’t necessarily be used."

    Please tidy that up by using actual sentences, because it is difficult to understand what you are saying here.

    "As a result of all this work, it seems pretty obvious that the iPad Air 2 continues to deliver some of the best tablet software on the market. For the most part, every application available seems to effectively deliver a tablet-specific experience that helps to set the iPad lineup apart from other tablets. Unfortunately, it seems that due to a lack of competition there isn’t much in the way of attempts to dramatically improve the software experience, and as a result it’s a bit difficult for me to justify carrying a tablet around all the time as its size is relatively massive compared to even a 6 inch phablet"

    You are saying the iPad Air 2 has some of the best tablet software, but tablets in general are not worth carrying around because they are too big relative to phablets. You attribute this to a lack of competition for the iPad, which means Apple has failed to make dramatic improvements to tablet software, improvements that would be necessary to make it worthwhile to carry tablets. OK. What about just having one for use at home? I think you are trying to say too many unrelated things in this paragraph.

    "Overall, the iPad Air 2 is likely to be one of the only tablets worth buying on the market today."

    I think this is rather too sweeping a statement for a review focused on one tablet, not very helpful when you omit to mention the other tablets worth buying, and anyway the statement isn't well supported in the article itself.
  • name99 - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    "The glass is flat, which makes it seem noticeably different from the iPhone 6 line in that regard as it meets the chamfered edge of the back cover rather than making a seamless curve."

    iPad manufacturing has always lagged iPhone, I imagine because the volumes are lower.
    I wouldn't read any "statement of direction" into this.

    For example my iPad Retina came out at the same time as the iPhone 4/4S. The 4/4S was incredibly slick for its time, while the iPad Retina used a sort of lacquer or something to form the bezel around the screen, and there was noticeable unevenness in this lacquer. (Uneven meaning not visible, but you could feel it if you ran your fingers over the bezel.)

    Of course the iPhone 5 ramped up slickness of manufacturing to a new level with the really tight tolerances, the feel of a single block of material; the 6 retained that while now converting straight edges to curves. I'd say the iPad Air 2, in terms of manufacturing slickness lives halfway between the 4/4S and the 5/5S. It doesn't QUITE reach that feeling of a single uninterrupted block of material, probably because it's striving for curves --- they might have been able to make it if they'd gone for a look exactly like the 5/5S.

    The larger pattern, I think, is that the manufacturing/fit-and-finish is improving for iPads every year; they just suffer in comparison with the absolute perfection of the phone manufacturing.

  • sporkfan - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    In agreement with you here. I'm really not a fan of how the TouchID is integrated into the iPad Air 2. I'm not sure if it's just lower tolerances than the iPhone 5s, or perhaps my unit is weird. But if my fingernails are long enough that they contact the ring at all (not that long, I swear!), they catch on the sharp outer edge. It feels icky. On the iPhone 5s this is totally not an issue. Reply
  • feeblegoat - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    Hey, Josh, the data doesn't really match your conclusions about efficiency too much. I can see that performance degraded slightly more on the shield tablet, but only at the very end, before the last ten minutes. Up until then, performance stays at a steady 57fps (http://www.anandtech.com/show/8329/revisiting-shie... However, considering that this is an onscreen test, I'll assume the 5-7 fps advantage compensates for the lighter workload given by the lower resolution screen. So, assuming the workload is even, then we must consider the battery size difference. Ignoring the screen power usage for now, the Shield Tablet has a 19.75 Wh battery, the Air 2 a 27.62 Wh battery. Ratio the battery numbers with the battery life difference, and we end up looking at a 23% efficiency win for the Air 2, maybe up to 25-28% because of the larger screen. That's a little less than I would actually expect (but pretty close to expectations) considering the A8X is 20nm and the K1 28nm. So if anything, praise the efficiency of 20nm; because considering the gap in architecture, the efficiency is maybe worse than the K1's GPU.

    Sidenote: (Of course, that's a somewhat invalid argument, because the A8X has 20nm, K1 doesn't, and we can't just say that the K1 is more efficient - it's not. But still, the difference is due to 20nm. Kudos to Imagination, though, for making a GPU that has similar hypothetical efficiency to the juggernaut Nvidia. Can't wait for Maxwell SoC's though. One SMX on a phone?)
  • techconc - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    "Ignoring the screen power usage for now"
    Huh? Once you do that, the rest of your question is meaningless. The screen is the largest power consuming component by a large margin. What's more, you're comparing a device with a 5" screen to a device with a 10" screen and attempting to guess at the efficiency of the chip components based the the respective battery sizes for these devices. That's an exercise in futility as you're not able to draw any meaningful conclusions based on the data you have.
  • lucam - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    He doesn't get..so be it.. Reply
  • dwade123 - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    Lol Android devices are nowhere close to the iphone 6 let alone Air 2 in raw power and app library. Reply
  • Morawka - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    Thanks for the review! finally ! haha Reply

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