Thursday, March 29, 2012

New iPad's performance gets iPhoto reality check

The new iPad's chip isn't exactly slow but falls down in some tests against Nvidia's quad-core Tegra 3 chip.
The new iPad has a quad-core graphics chip but its CPU is old and, as a result, suffers in some performance tests, says Anandtech.

The new iPad's performance is less-than-stellar on iPhoto and lags the Asus Transformer Prime tablet in some tests because of Apple's aging central processing unit, according to a chip review site.

Nvidia's quad-core Tegra 3 chip -- used in the Asus Transformer Prime tablet -- is faster in some key tests than new iPad's A5X chip, according to tests conducted by Anandtech.

While Apple touts the A5X chip's quad-core graphics processing unit (GPU), it is silent about the CPU. The reason is pretty simple: the A5X sticks with an aging dual-core Cortex A9 CPU (based on a design from ARM).

And that shortcoming shows up in some benchmark numbers.

"iPhoto is a very tangible example of where Apple could have benefitted from having four CPU cores on A5X," wrote Vivek Gowri and Anand Shimpi in review of the new iPad posted Wednesday.

Anandtech continues. "The problem is not only are the two A9s not fast enough to deal with the needs of iPhoto, but anything that needs to get done in the background while you're using iPhoto is going to suffer as well."

And in a Geekbench benchmark, Anandtech did some cross platform comparisons, claiming that "almost entirely across the board" Nvidia delivers better CPU performance.

In GPU-centric tests, the quad-core A5X GPU did better. There is a "a roughly 2x increase in triangle and fill rates" and in GLBenchmark's low level test at 1024x768 resolution, performance doubles compared to the iPad 2, Anandtech said.

At the new iPad's native 2048x1536 resolution, performance results were more problematic. "It's because of this drop in performance at the iPad's native resolution that we won't see many (if any at all), visually taxing games run at anywhere near 2048x1536," Anandtech wrote.

But overall, the new iPad is a dramatic step up from the iPad 2, the review site said, noting the Retina display "represents a fundamental change in how you visually interact with the device."

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