CPU Performance

While there’s a great deal of ground to cover on the tablet as a whole, one of the most interesting aspects of the Nexus 9 is the SoC. While we’ve tested Tegra K1 before, we were looking at the more traditional Cortex A15 variant. The Denver variant (Tegra13x) is mostly similar to Tegra K1-32 (Tegra12x), but instead the CPU cores are a radically different design. In order to get an idea for how this translates into real world we can look at a few of our standard benchmarks in this area, although Google Octane couldn’t complete a full run. This build of Android clearly has AArch64 active, which means that we should be able to directly compare the Nexus 9 to the iPad Air 2 for performance.

SunSpider 1.0.2 Benchmark  (Chrome/Safari/IE)

Kraken 1.1 (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

As one can see, at least at this stage in development the Nexus 9 can show some level of promise at times, but can be a bit disappointing in others. In SunSpider, Denver is generally even slower than Krait. However, in a benchmark like Kraken the Nexus 9 easily pulls ahead to take the top spot. In Basemark OS II the Nexus 9 does well overall but this seems to be due to its graphics performance/GPU performance and storage performance rather than CPU-bound tests like the system and web tests. It seems that when the code morphing systems works as expected, Denver can deliver significant amounts of performance. However, when such code morphing falls flat its true performance with a dual core, 2.3 GHz configuration is around that of a four Krait core CPU system at similar clock speeds. Once again, it's important to emphasize that this build is far from complete so performance should improve across the board with launch software. The fact that Tegra13x can approach A8X in CPU performance in some tests is definitely interesting to see.

Battery Life

While Denver's performance is a bit mixed, it's worth taking a look at battery life to see how Denver performs in these areas. As always, our battery life tests are all run with the display calibrated to 200 nits.

Web Browsing Battery Life (WiFi)

While an early build, it seems that the Nexus 9 is reasonably competitive in battery life but I'm not sure that these results are perfectly accurate. At any rate, efficiency at this stage seems to be par for the course, which should bode well for shipping software. This is a mostly display-bound test though, so we'll look at Basemark OS II to get a better idea for compute-bound battery life.

BaseMark OS II Battery Life

BaseMark OS II Battery Score

As one can see, while the battery life of the Nexus 9 ends up on the bottom for phablets and tablets, the overall performance during the test is quite high. We're working on a better comparison for the final review, but this should give a good idea of what to expect in general.

 

Introduction GPU Performance and Initial Conclusions
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  • tuxRoller - Thursday, November 6, 2014 - link

    ipad has some pretty serious music making apps. Both have some cad programs from autodesk.
    Lastly, browsers themselves can actually use that power. For instance, firefox via webgl + asm.js.
    This is ignoring the coming push into servers.
    Reply
  • toyotabedzrock - Monday, November 3, 2014 - link

    Not when I can buy an i5 laptop for the price of the tablet. Reply
  • beginner99 - Tuesday, November 4, 2014 - link

    No, an i3 runs circles around A8x or Tegra K1. It's just a stupid comparison because they also target a different market. Reply
  • darkich - Tuesday, November 4, 2014 - link

    You're trolling??

    The A8X is ridiculously more impressive than any Core chip because of giving comparable processing power at about 30% of power, and probably far less than 50% of price.

    And here's the thing - Apple AX chips are a prime candidate for future MacBook successors.
    Reply
  • Speedfriend - Tuesday, November 4, 2014 - link

    "The A8X is ridiculously more impressive than any Core chip because of giving comparable processing power at about 30% of power, and probably far less than 50% of price."

    You heard of a thing called Core M? Same TDP as A8x, single core geekbench 33% higher. GPU performance 2.5x? And on silicon that is smaller than the A8 let alone the A8X, so cost of manufacture is cheaper.
    Reply
  • darkich - Tuesday, November 4, 2014 - link

    Yeah I heard of Core M, that Uber fail chip that perfectly shows how badly screwed Intel is against Apple.

    It throttles tragically, has 30% lower performance than a Haswell U counterpart, and costs over $200.
    Reply
  • darkich - Tuesday, November 4, 2014 - link

    ^ at least that is what the first actual Core M product reveals, that is Reply
  • chizow - Tuesday, November 4, 2014 - link

    Core M is definitely in a class of its own in terms of performance, but I agree its not applicable in this discussion because of its price tag. We won't see it in a sub $600 device competing with these parts. Reply
  • darkich - Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - link

    Definitely in a class of its own??

    Please back that claim up.
    From what we have seen, Core M in the Yoga 3 Pro (high end core M variant!) fails to match the Core i5 4200U, and .. Apple A8X in fact matches it in raw performance!

    My bet is that Apple A9X on 14nm should allow the MacBook Air succesor to outperform windows competition in every way, and actually cost less.
    Reply
  • darkich - Tuesday, November 4, 2014 - link

    Oh and also, Core M doesn't have the same TDP as A8X, not even close!

    The A8X has, according to battery endurance measurements, has lower TDP than the A7..you know, the chip that runs in the iPad Air and..iphone 5S.
    Think about that for a moment.

    The only reason why A8X isn't in new iPhones is because the A8 is sufficient for iPhones while A8X(along with the 2GB RAM) turns the iPad into a bit more than the big iPhone.
    Reply

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