Apple’s not exactly the kind of company that boasts lightly. That’s not to say they don’t boast a lot — they’re probably the most bragging of all the companies in tech, and for damn good reason — but every boast is weighted against genuine success, not numbers fudging.
So when Apple debuted the new iPad a couple weeks ago and claimed that their tablet — powered by a dual-core CPU and quad-core graphics — outperformed the quad-core CPU and 12-core graphics of the NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC, a lot of people arched their eyebrows. NVIDIA raised a stink, saying it couldn’t possibly be true. But we quietly suspected that Apple would be proven right.
So guess which is faster in independent benchmarks?
The boys over at Laptop Mag put the new iPad through its paces against the Tegra 3 powered ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Pride.
The results? Apple exaggerated a little that the graphics of the A5X were four-times better than the Tegra 3, but not by much.
When GLBenchmark ran the Geometric test (vertex weighted), which measures low-level shader performance, the new iPad processed 7,530,524 frames at a rate of 57 fps while the Tegra 3-based Transformer Prime processed just 3,523,926 at a rate of 27 fps. We saw the same trend on the program’s Fill test, which measures texturing speed, as the iPad processed 1.98 billion textels per second to the Prime’s 404.61 million.
So about 60% better on low level shader performance, but almost five times better in texturing speed. Considering the raw power and multiple core advantage of the Tegra 3, that’s quite the feat, and can likely all be chalked up to Apple’s incredible efforts towards optimization. By controlling both the hardware and the software running on it, they’re outperforming a far more powerful chiclet of silicon.
Of course, with raw CPU performance, Laptop Mag found that the Tegra 3 had the advantage over the A5X. That’s interesting, but graphics are the bottleneck these days — especially as we move towards Retina Displays. And NVIDIA, a graphics company, is hardly likely to brag that their Tegra 3 CPU can crunch more numbers than Apple’s.