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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  • LaughingTarget - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    14 million is remarkably small, actually, compared to just the total tablet PC market. The reason most of us don't see them very often is most of us aren't regularly in light use markets. I spend a lot of time in office environments and manufacturing floors, not children's soccer fields. There isn't a single iPad in these places because they don't do any good there. We do have tablet PCs though, because we can actually put programs on them that do what we need, something Apple is grossly deficient in.
  • DesktopMan - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    Any plans for video playback tests? At minimum avi and mkv containers, divx/xvid and h264 codecs. For h264 720p and 1080p at main and high profile, seeing as how the Tegra 2 "no high profile"-debacle needs some closure.
  • PeteH - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    I seriously doubt that video playback uses the GPU in either the Tegra 2 or the A5.
  • TakeToTask - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    Lots of valid points, but as usual, the main points are missed by techies who have a "god complex" about their knowledge of the computer industry and hardware.

    Android is, at best, good for techies. It's not refined for the general population, many of whom *still* don't have a grasp on technology as a whole. Don't believe me? Go do help desk for a month and come back. Sticking with my accusation of "god complex," the techie will push Android on their relatives so they can look like the savior when things go wrong. This is not to say that there aren't problems that arise on the iOS from time to time, but already, malware is making the rounds on Android. It's ok. "God person" will come to the rescue.

    For all the techies who ripped Apple for not originally coming with a 2-button mouse, I'll show you people who:
    * didn't know the right button did something different
    * didn't know they had to use the left button to select something from the context menu
    * didn't know if double-clicking meant "left double-clicking" or "right double-clicking"
    etc. This was in 2010.

    The iPad (2) offers a simple experience for the regular person and offers far more to the TRUE hackers who know how to unlock the device and make it do what they want anyway.

    Bash away, but from what I can tell, techies have no *valid* argument against my post...
  • LaughingTarget - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    I'm not a techie, I'm a business person, and the iPad2 is still lightyears away from anything worth getting. The system is so hobbled that I can't do anything with it that Apple doesn't deign give me permission to do, first. I can't tie it into any of my business systems. It's useless for me. It's an expensive and underfunctional Netbook.

    If I was only in the market for checking e-mails, playing games, and engaging in limited web browing, the iPad2 would be just fine. But I actually want it to do more than that. How fast the processor is at rendering 3D games is meaningless to me. I have a home PC and a travel laptop that does far more in that department. What good is all that power if it doesn't do what I want it to do? The iPad2 is a Maserati in a school zone. It looks nice, but it's all wasted effort.

    Android isn't just a techie system, it's positioning itself to take on the business world, where the major profits are. Until Apple can do that, which includes not locking the system down and funneling everything through their store, they will remain an overall bit player that strangely get a lot of media attention relative to their size and market presence.
  • PeteH - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    I would argue that the major profits in personal computing hardware are actually in the consumer space. Deutsche Bank published a study claiming that Apple commands 35% of the total PC market operating profits on just 7% of total revenues, and I'm pretty sure consumers make up the bulk of Apple's sales. I don't see why the tablet space would be any different.
  • retnuh - Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - link

    LOL, this makes me laugh. First since this is a business use, signup for the iOS Developer Enterprise Program, second code up and deploy WHATEVER YOU WANT TO INTERNALLY. Now if you only care about your own needs a single regular iOS Developer Program subscription will do fine and allow you to install any app you've written to tie into your business systems as needed. Oh and the apps don't have to go through the App Store (since its internal and you wouldn't be selling them anyways), been like this since app development started.

    Next solution, do your business systems not have a html interface? Any kind of easy to tie into API? I mean seriously, you could create a webapp for internal use and then use whatever tablet/netbook/etc... you wanted.
  • vision33r - Wednesday, March 16, 2011 - link

    That's why you have an IT dept for a non-tech like you. You shouldn't be poking around and connect to business systems without configuration from IT.

    Android just gives you open access but IT will still need to due diligence and lock it down to prevent tampering and idiot proof it.
  • wallet99 - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    ipad2 is awesome, double the speed, nice! but too expensive, right? well there is a way to get 400 dollars a week for 20 dollars a month, yes. check is out 400aweek.com Join 180,000+ members. this is revolutionary!
  • dcnarad - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    I understand that there is a difference in performance due the resolution of the screen, so pulled up G-tablet specs (screen resolution slightly lower than ipad2) on GLbenchmark http://www.glbenchmark.com/compare.jsp?benchmark=g...

    looks like the cheap tab matches and in some cases outperforms the ipad2. It it true or am I interpreting it all wrong.

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