A5X vs. Tegra 3 benchmarked

A5X vs. Tegra 3 benchmarked

Summary: Were Apple's claims that the A5X was four times faster than the Tegra 3 based on very selected benchmark tests, or does the silicon have more to offer?


LAPTOP Magazine has put Apple's claim that Apple's new iPad's A5X chip offers four times the performance of NVIDIA's Tegra 3 CPU to the test.

For the test Apple's new iPad was pitted against ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime, the first tablet to feature the Tegra 3 processor.

The results are all over the place. In the GLBenchmark Fill test the iPad's A5X comfortably beat the Tegra 3, processing 1.98 billion textels per second compared to 404.61 million for the Tegra 3.

However, when it came to the Geekbench test, which measures processor performance rather than graphics, the Tegra 3 with its quad-core CPU comfortably beat the A5X, achieving an overall score of 1,571 compared to 692 for the A5X.

The test team then played two games on the tablets to see if there was a difference, and the results of this test were also inconclusive:

"Our experience playing Shadowgun and Riptide on the two tablets shows how difficult it is to separate processor performance from other system components like the screen. It's likely that, if we could put a gorgeous 2048 x 1536 screen on the Transformer Prime, these games would have both the great special effects and the sharp, beautiful images."

It's worth noting that neither Shadowgun nor Riptide has yet been optimized for the A5X chip, so it's possible that developers will be able to squeeze more power from the A5X in a later update.

Were Apple's claims that the A5X was four times faster than the Tegra 3 based on very selected benchmark tests, or does the silicon have more to offer?


Topics: Tablets, Apple, CXO, Hardware, iPad, Laptops, Mobility, Processors, IT Employment

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  • There was nothing to "Cook": Tegra-3 does 8 GFLOPS@333 MHz, while A5X ...

    ... does 32 GFLOPS@250 MHz -- four times more in raw power.

    Real life tests, of course, show like 3 times or even 2-2.5 times advantage.
  • LOL

    Text is sure looking better on iPad /sarcasm off

    Tim is cooking results for sure here. Like your fail on "revolutionary"(!) battery. You will find real results when you think of out hype...

    Tim gave nothing to base his claims onto, so yes, A5X may be slightly better than Tegra3 on extensive tests, yet 4x was just pure lie...
    • 4x was pure truth; see above

      The subject.
      • that depends on the benchmark test in question

        And synthetic vs rea-life tests...
    • Bro you sound mad

      LOL you sound a little mad there.
  • Shouldn't be a surprise

    The enhancement in the New iPad is GPU, not CPU.
    As it is pushing the monster resolution display I would expect it to beat the Tegra unless you had an app that used the cores specifically for visuals for that app - be cool to see but unlikely at this time.

    If the Tegra can beat the iPad2 for CPU intensive activities, it should also beat the New iPad.

    What is surprising about this?
  • re:

    "However, when it came to the Geekbench test, which measures processor performance rather than graphics"

    In other words, 100% useless for a graphics test. The GPU has been the centerpiece of graphics for a long time - the CPU is barely involved with graphics anymore.

    That being said, I'm a bit surprised they beat nVidia. nVidia specializes in graphics - I didn't think they'd be dethroned so easily.

    The good news is that, having been beat square and fair here, I fully expect nVidia to sit up, pay attention, and come up with another more competitive chip soon.
    • To an extent

      However at the higher resolution of the Retina display it's possible the CPU could limit performance. Although that would simply give the win to the Tegra 3. I do find it amusing that Apple was able to get 4x the raw GPU performance of the nVidia chip. And kind of sad.
      • re:

        "However at the higher resolution of the Retina display it's possible the CPU could limit performance."

        Nope, not if they're doing it right. The GPU should be doing all of the graphics if they're doing it right.
    • Actually watch the Video

      Raw power doesn't mean anything if it is all sapped away to handle the same effects the Tegra 3 handles natively.
      • Interesting

        Humm, that's interesting. Could mean that the Tegra has more access to shaders and physics, but it's hard to say from the video.

        The guys talk about the "detail" without saying whether it's polygon count or texture resolution or anything about shaders, so I think the guys might not be experts at graphics. I wouldn't count on their opinions being authoritative.
      • Well


        If you take the PS3 vs the 360 the Sony was supposed to destroy the 360. Guess what? it didn't and that is all because the 360 had advanced lighting built into the GPU and the Sony was using Raw power to measure the system. So, Sony then had to use a whole bunch of cycles to even get close to the 360 Lighting and the two machines actually ended up being very similar.

        Now when you look at these games, nVidia worked with the Developers to make sure the games were using all the advanced techniques of this SoC.

        Going further, I played many of the iPad 3 Optimized games on the original iPad and they ran pretty much the same so the optimizations were limited to resolution changes and that is not what a gamer expects.
    • Nvidia is actually competing against PowerVR not Apple

      Its because their GPU is not an Apple product but made by PowerVR which did 3Dfx Graphics cads like the Voodoo Banshee. Nvidia for a long time competed with 3DFX in terms of speed, the results usually have been in favor of 3DFX for speed but Nvidia for graphical features.
  • This is the same Marketing Bunk Sont pulls

    This is the Same Marketing Bunk that Sony pulls with their consoles... We can do 500 trillion flat shaded polygons but don't ask us to use FSAA of any kind on them.

    The very fact that the Tegra 3 games are showing more details, better lighting, more effects, and the fact that the two guys in the video had to qualify what they were showing, tells me there's more to this game than Raw numbers.
    • There always is

      Still, an impressive outing by Apple nonetheless. You have to give credit where credit is due. Let's take something like hardware tesselation as an example. By passing that off to a dedicated hardware function you can accomplish graphics that far surpass what you could do in software on a GPU.

      I'm personally looking forward to a Win 8 x64 tablet with a DX11 card built in. It will put both of these to shame in graphics prowess. Of course it will die in an hour!
  • GPU needs to be looked at more carefully for each

    One common misconception is that the A5x is what is comparing with Tegra3's GPU. However the A5x is not doing any of the GPU. Its doing the processing the sending the 3d effects to PowerVR's SGX543MP2 GPU which is in fact a quad core GPU. That's why its able to compete with the Transformer Prime on a performance scale.

    Power VR for those that don't know are the people who initially worked on the chips in 3Dfx graphics cards on PC's back in the day. The only correct way to compare these is to observe the instruction sets for optimization, and also see which features each GPU supports( shading, physics, etc.) Otherwise they are equal, not better.

    Its like comparing Intel and AMD.

      Jeez, mortal enemies not related at all. Do your homework. Now 3dfx was KILLED by NVIDIA who bought them for a song and killed the company...LOL. 3dfx was NEVER related to POWERVR or imagination technologies. LOL at people who don't realize it's better on NVIDIA. Already mentioned before that the graphics etc looked better with more fx on Tegra3 vs A5x. Don't forget the more you make it look like NVidia's the slower their GPU on the a5x will go...Don't expect it to be OPTIMIZED to the point to surpass Nvidia's looks AND performance at the same time. They need all that extra GPU power just to push that RETINA display! Essentially this is an ipad2 with a better resolution. IT will multitask no better than ipad2 and will be blown away buy a quad core cpu such as tegra 3 in using the dang thing. That's the point of the quad cpu. Tegra 3 improved graphics AND gave a quad core over tegra2. Not the same in ipad2 vs ipad3, only better graphics and then used up by the fact that it has to push a HUGE resolution on screen, so basically nothing but prettier ipad2. Not to say that's a complaint BTW. It has pretty text :) I'd still prefer a tegra3 based tablet once it's 28nm. None of these current options interest me. They all need to shrink or double their thickness for more battery (why do phone makers insist on razor thin desings? The samsung Galaxy 2S for example. Create another one with double the battery and a bit thicker and I'll buy...thickness means nothing when we're talking 9mm vs 15mm).
  • Video summary...

    iPad is better for text based games.

    move west 4 miles
    "you have reached fail"
    • heh

      Heh, yeah, they did note that the text was better on the iPad . . .

      . . . although I imagine that comes from the high resolution of the retina display, not from the graphics power of the GPU.

      I'm not really impressed with how they did the review, to be honest. They didn't really come across as being knowledgeable about gaming graphics. I'd like to see a good review from somebody who really knows their stuff sometime.
  • In short, the new iPad is just a game machine?

    I should go back in time, to 1982, and tell my 5th grade teacher about today's technology and how it's geared.

    If she hated game machines back then, even then those in question had the power and ability to do programming on the machine without additional required gadgets and gimmicks, her head would explode over what's being done today...