Apple A4 vs. Qualcomm Snapdragon vs. ARM Cortex A8, benchmarked

Which silicon is faster: Apple's new 1GHz A4 system-on-a-chip found in the iPad, or Qualcomm's 1GHz Snapdragon found in the Google Nexus One?

Which silicon is faster: Apple's new 1GHz A4 system-on-a-chip found in the iPad, or Qualcomm's 1GHz Snapdragon found in the Google Nexus One?

AnandTech wondered the same thing, and decided to pit the two chips against each other to find out.

First, some background: Apple's A4 is likely the result of its recent acquisition of P.A. Semi and is manufactured by Samsung. It contains three or more layers of circuitry, and even manages to squeeze RAM under its roof.

Meanwhile, the Nexus One's QSD8250 processor is considered the frontrunner in the smartphone speed wars.

To round out the package and keep things interesting, AnandTech added to the competition the 600MHz ARM Cortex A8 found in the iPhone 3GS.

The result: tests loading web pages revealed Apple's A4 to be 10 to 30 percent faster.

A few takeaways:

  • The A4 "is particularly exciting because it combines Snapdragon-like CPU performance with a PowerVR SGX GPU."
  • "With Apple showing its A4 performance this early, Qualcomm also has a target to aim at. The first single-core 45nm Snapdragon SoC due out in 2010 will run at 1.3GHz. That could be enough to either equal or outperform Apple's A4 based on what we've seen here today."
  • The A4's performance bodes well for the 4th generation iPhone, which is expected to use the chip.

Want to know the down 'n' dirty details? Head over to the preliminary test.