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  (Source: iFixit)
Benchmarks show Apple's chip is generally the more fit competitor, however the Tegra 3 still manages to impress

Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) new iPad 3 processor, the A5X, has been pitted against a top-of-the-line Android chip from NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA), the Tegra 3 in the real world.  The Tegra 3 is found in the Transformer Prime, the flagship Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) tablet from ASUSTEK Computer, Inc. (TPE:2357).

Early reviews and analysis commentaries from various parties were rather light on hard performance numbers for the CPU.  But the folks over at Laptop Magazine have dropped a full set of CPU and GPU benchmarks on the iPad 3 and evaluated how it performed versus the Tegra 3.

In GLBenchmark 2.1, the A5X is a beast.  Apple's tablet system-on-a-chip (SoC) is thought to pack a PowerVR SGX543MP4+ (the same chip found in the Sony Corp.'s (TYO:6758PlayStation Vita).  Apple wasn't kidding when it said the chip was four times as fast as the Tegra 3.  In a huge win for Imagination Technologies plc. (LON:IMG), the GPU is actually close to 5 times as fast as Tegra 3's GeForce derived mobile GPU.

Tegra3 v. A5X GLBenchmark
[Image Source: Laptop Magazine]

Ironically, while graphics veteran NVIDIA languishes in graphics, it hits back equally hard in the CPU department.  The Tegra 3 outperformed the A5X more than 2-fold in the GeekBench benchmark, which examines various CPU performance metrics.  The only victory for Apple came in the stream test.

Tegra3 v. A5X GeekBench
[Image Source: Laptop Magazine]

Overall, these results are not surprising.  Both the A5X and Tegra 3 use the licensed Cortex-A9 design from ARM Holdings Plc. (LON:ARM).  And the A5X has two cores, while the Tegra 3 is a quad-core design.  Now, the comparison isn't exactly apples and apples, as the Tegra 3 in the Transformer Prime is clocked at 1.3 GHz, where as the iPad's chip is clocked at 1 GHz.  Thus the A5X may be actually a bit more efficient on a per-core basis, albeit weaker overall in raw power.

Unfortunately for NVIDIA, those results don't necessarily translate into real-world performance.  The stock ICS browser ran the Sunspider Javascript test suite slower than the stock iPad 3 Safari variant.  Ultimately, this reminds us of Windows Phone, which runs silky-smooth on a single core.  The lesson here is that software is equally important to the raw computing power.  ICS appears to be either less efficient or insufficiently threaded.  Count that as another win for the A5X.

A handful of games such as Shadowgun and RipTide are using the Tegra 3's extra computing muscle to pull off slick effects like physics and reflections.  While the iPad 3 lacks these niceties, it does offer much crisper rendering, thanks to its higher resolution 2048x1536 pixel screen.  That's a lot of pixels, hence the need for that beefy GPU.

Shadowgun wide
The iPad 3 (right) reportedly offers a crisper image, but the Tegra 3 powered Transformer Prime (left) offers better lighting and fix-driven objects like the flags hanging overhead.
[Image Source: Laptop Magazine]

In terms of gaming the iPad 3 and Transformer Prime seem to be neck and neck -- the iPad 3 offers gaudier resolutions, but the Transformer Prime offers unique visual effects in certain apps.

ASUSTEK is also hoping to level the playing field a bit with its coming Transformer Prime "Infinity" (TF701), which sports a 1920x1200 pixel resolution, up from the current model's 1280x800.  The real question is what GPU will be inside that.  After all, the Tegra 3 doesn't seem like it has the muscle to power that high a resolution display.  One has to wonder whether ASUSTEK won't jump ship to a new PowerVR equipped SoC to quench its mobile graphics thirst.

Source: Laptop Magazine



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By MGSsancho on 3/19/2012 9:45:01 PM , Rating: 1
Unix and Linux have no GUI real because of tits application. A computer with no display does not need a fancy user interface. Hand held devices and tables which are nothing but display need great user interfaces. I think you are forgetting that you have to think about your devices application. Cores and flops are cool but only matter if the software can utilize it. iPhone has a slower CPU then rest of its competitors yet the software running on it does just fine. As far as roots are concerned, the *nix operating systems are very modular and cheap to obtain and license.

Stop thinking about the hardware too much and focus on the total experience, Currently Apple has things figured out well from purchase show room experience, buying, opening packaging, first boot, ergonomics, all the useability stuff, customer support, ponies etc. Others do well is most respects. What apple does better than no one else is ship few products with great components. Notice I did not say best.

We on this site need to stop harping on pissing wars and try to device at a given price point, what is the best deal. Maybe Anand or the anandtech employees can use tables like for the GPU stuff and try to do comparisons on price brackets. with many tablets being around $400 maybe there is not much of a table but for smart phones, laptops, netbooks, ultrabooks, desktops and workstations maybe we can.


"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone














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