System Performance Cont'd

Moving on towards our more GPU-bound workloads, we use our standard test suite of benchmarks like GFXBench and 3DMark to get a good idea for performance. Unfortunately, due to the move to iOS 9 the Unity engine version used in Basemark X is no longer working so for now we’re left with 3DMark and GFXBench. There is also Basemark OS II’s graphics test, but this is embedded in a larger benchmark with CPU and storage performance tests.

3DMark 1.2 Unlimited - Overall

3DMark 1.2 Unlimited - Graphics

3DMark 1.2 Unlimited - Physics

As always with 3DMark, there are some issues in the data structures used. Due to the data dependencies present within the physics test, it is necessary for the CPU to stall for data to be committed to memory before continuing on to the next portion of the test instead of executing instructions in parallel. This strongly reduces the practical performance of the CPU because the architecture is primarily focused upon instruction-level parallelism to deliver major performance gains. However, due to the strong showing in graphics performance the iPhone 6s’ still manage to take the lead.

GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan (Onscreen)

GFXBench 3.0 T-Rex HD (Onscreen)

GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan (Offscreen)

GFXBench 3.0 T-Rex HD (Offscreen)

In GFXBench, the A9 SoC just shows absurd performance. It’s strange to think about how the iPad Air 2’s GPU seemed incredibly quick at the time but with the A9 Apple has surpassed that level of performance in their smartphone SoCs. The move to a new generation of PowerVR GPU IP, in addition to the move to a FinFET process node are really the drivers for this kind of performance improvement.

Overall, the Apple A9 SoC is the best SoC in any phone shipping today. In cases like web browsing, gaming, and even just going through the UI it’s quite evident that this new SoC is a major factor in improving performance and smoothness across the board. Something as simple as visiting some popular tech websites will show this, which really goes to show how much “specs” still matter due to their influence on user experience.

NAND Performance

At this point is almost goes without saying that storage performance is important, but in a lot of ways the testing here is still in its early days. In the case of the iPhone 6s we’ve discussed what distinguishes its storage solution from others in this industry, but for those that are unaware the iPhone 6s uses PCIe and NVMe instead of a UFS or eMMC storage solution. In a lot of ways, this makes the storage on board closer to the SSD that you might find in a more expensive PC but due to PCB limitations you won’t necessarily see the enormous parallelism that you might expect from a true SSD. In the time since the initial results we've found that all of our review units use Hynix-supplied NAND. In order to test how this storage solution performs, we use Eric Patno’s storage test which allows for a simple storage test comparable to AndroBench 3.6.

Internal NAND - Sequential Read

Internal NAND - Sequential Write

Internal NAND - Random Read

Internal NAND - Random Write

Here, we can really see the enormous performance improvements that result from a combination of TLC NAND with an SLC cache, along with the new NVMe protocol which allows for low CPU overhead and removes architectural bottlenecks to storage performance. This should allow for things like faster burst photos and faster app updates. Downloading and updating apps on the iPhone 6s feels noticeably faster than it is on the iPhone 6, to the extent that small apps feel like they install almost instantly when I’m on a WiFi connection fast enough to saturate storage bandwidth.

System Performance Battery Life and Charge Time


View All Comments

  • Caliko - Monday, November 2, 2015 - link

    Never will I settle for less. Especially a knockoff. Reply
  • kael13 - Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - link

    6P apparently breaks very easily. (As in, super easily bent - far easier than original iPhone 6 plus.) Reply
  • Caliko - Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - link

    The s6 bends a lot easier and shatters at the same time.

    But you won't see a media circus over non Apple devices.
  • halcyon - Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - link

    Nexus 6P is a slow dog with overheating Snapdragon 810, compared to Apple's A9.

    Worse even than Exynos 7420 on Galaxy Note5.

    It's a mid-high end or high mind-end phone.
  • AEdouard - Monday, November 2, 2015 - link

    Oops, sorry forgot about size. Reply
  • Shadow7037932 - Monday, November 2, 2015 - link

    Hold on to that small Moto X. Because no one is going to go back to making small phones. Reply
  • hans_ober - Monday, November 2, 2015 - link

    First world problems.... only if they would release a slightly updated version of that beauty. Reply
  • michael2k - Monday, November 2, 2015 - link

    It's too bad you don't understand why you're wrong since you refuse to read the article. They clearly measure CPU performance, battery life, display performance, white point and black point, read and write performance, graphics performance, NAND performance, use cases for 3D touch and faster encrytpion, etc, and where they are weak. The "best" title isn't empty here. Reply
  • Caliko - Tuesday, November 3, 2015 - link

    "I don't wanna hear it Lalalalalala!" Reply
  • AEdouard - Monday, November 2, 2015 - link

    And yeah, he went to work for Apple. How strange, the behemoth of technology attracts talent from the tech world. Insane I tell you! Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now