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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  • Gherkin - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    Actually it is quite light and elegant. I have had the first iPad for almost a year and it has proven itself to be very useful. I have a feeling that if the iPad 2 were exactly the same as it is but had any other brand on it than Apple, you would be all over it.

    Apple-hater: Xoom is the greatest, iPad is junk.

    Reviewers: iPad is clearly super AND costs less.

    Apple-hater: how much is CrApple paying you! Xoom out-specs the iPad!

    Reviewer: Benchmarks show the iPad is 4x faster than the Xoom. And costs less.

    Apple-hater: yea but the iOS is garbage!

    Reviewer: Honeycomb is buggy and feels rushed out before it was ready.

    Apple-hater: Who would want a tablet anyway?!

    Meanwhile Apple can't make the iPad fast enough to keep up with demand.
  • Juzcallmeneo - Sunday, March 13, 2011 - link

    many people have been constantly arguing that a tablet such as this in general is useless since the original ipad. what exactly makes them "apple-haters"? many with these opinions own macbooks and iphones.
  • rquick - Sunday, March 13, 2011 - link

    Some opinions are meaningful and some are not. When someone says that they do not have a use for a tablet, that is a valid opinion. When someone says that no one has a use for a tablet, that is an invalid opinion that wastes everyone's time. Slickr's comment was useless and meaningless and could possibly indicate he/she is simply out of touch with reality. Another possibility being expressed by Gherkin is that slickr is disappointed that Android and Xoom a not comparing well to current Apple products and is responding by saying tablets have no value anyway so Apple's current success with the iPad2 is meaningless.
  • Juzcallmeneo - Sunday, March 13, 2011 - link

    I just don't see how he's a Xoom fanboy.. he's badmouthing tablets in general. Sure, he is a little aggressive about it..and commenting on an ipad post..but he doesn't mention any brands at all.
  • vision33r - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    I know a number of people at my job who use the iPad to read books and they don't care about cameras or dual core. It doesn't improve human reading speed.
  • Gherkin - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    Yes, but it does so much more. Have you had your hands on an iPad 2. I have and it is truly impressive. It is so light and thin and everything is smooth, snappy, and slick. It really is an amazing technological achievement.
  • gus6464 - Sunday, March 13, 2011 - link

    The pictures of increased graphics performance for iPad 2 optimized games do not do it justice. Dead Space looks and plays fantastic. Got mine yesterday and I have not missed my laptop one bit. I tried out the xoom and the only thing I was impressed with was Chrome on Honeycomb.
  • ra540i - Sunday, March 13, 2011 - link

    So, funny story. My wife took me to Nebraska Furniture Mart in KC for the first time and I must say that it is an amazing store!!! While there I naturally went straight for the electronics dept. and They actually have an Apple store built in!!! So, anyway, my wife was like, "Is the new Ipad here?!?", and I was like yup, but it's sold out. She said that she just wanted to see it. Keep in mind that my wife is rockin a POS sprint flip phone and is technologically r-tarded. So she messed with the ipad 2 for like 3 minutes and was like. "I don't see what all the hype is about." I just laughed at her and we wandered in the opposite direction. Low and behold we ran right into the XOOM. And I was like, oh sh*&!! This is supposed to be the ipad killer, so I let her mess with it first before I got my mitts on it. After about 2 min she was like "WTF?, This sucks!! Who would buy this if the other one is cheaper (ipad)." I said that only true geeks would understand. Then I played with the XOOM for about 5 minutes and I have to say, WTF!!! How is honeycomb even acceptable by anyone's standards at this point? Laggy as hell, and most of all, my wife, a true virgin to this market segment, would choose the ipad over the xoom. In my eyes, with first hand experience, I would choose the Ipad 2 without a heartbeat. Anyone that owns a xoom and brags about it is only trying to justify the cost of the device. Congratulations to everyone who waited to buy the ipad 2 as their first tablet. My wife ENVYS YOU!!!!!!!!!!
  • shiro910 - Sunday, March 13, 2011 - link

    I'm in the market for a tablet or a ebook reader. I like the instant-on feature and the fact that I can use it around the house and in bed So I was looking at the ipad, ipad2 and xoom. If i didn't read any reviews or researched on the web. Simply based my purchase on how useful the product is from actual usage. Hands down the Apple's Ipad 2 will be the winner. Even the Ipad 1st generation felt much more polish than the Xoom. What idiot would purchase something like the xoom? Even the geeky side of me can not justify buying it at this point. People are in lalaland when they simply look at paper specifications. Give me real world specs please. Forget about the open/close OS and Itune sucks donkey nuts. Honestly, the Xoom felt like a half ass rushed out product so the consumer can be the beta tester...sorry no thanks.

    One Ipad 2 please.....until something better comes along.
  • snoozemode - Sunday, March 13, 2011 - link

    And Motorola wants $800 for the Xoom? wow.

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