Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

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Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Sat Nov 19, 2011 8:02 pm

Nordic Hardware (article translated from Swedish) has posted benchmarks comparing leaked Tegra 3 OpenGL performance with that of the Ipad 2 using the modified Arm C9 (A5) and proprietary PowerVR GPU. Somewhat surprisingly, as the title indicates, Tegra 3's GPU performance may not even be competitive with Apple's current offerings.

To make matters worse, there is indication that the Tegra 3 device (Lenovo LePad) benchmarked was either overclocked or a follow-up to the version of the Tegra 3 that will appear in the Asus Transformer Prime as it is indicated to be clocked at 1.6 Ghz.

One caveat is that the Lenovo device was apparently running Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich is purported to improve GPU acceleration. However, improvements in this area in the newer Android OS can only get you so far right?

We'll obviously have to wait for the Transformer Prime's arrival to be sure, but this does not bode well for Tegra 3's graphics. After all, ins't Nvidia's core business 3D acceleration? How can they release another lackluster performer in this regard after Tegra 2 and be outperformed by the Apple platform that was released over two quarters ago?
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Sat Nov 19, 2011 10:31 pm

Still can't get over how the Android OS itself has been the biggest bottleneck. As soon as someone else comes out with a decent OS that runs on multiple platforms, Android is going to get old FAST.
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Sun Nov 20, 2011 3:11 am

I'm sure the Apple fanbois will give Apple full credit for 'fast hardware' even though they are really licensing it. Where Apple does deserve credit however is software - optimizing iOS and drivers to squeeze that much performance out of a 'common' GPU that anyone else could license. And I think that's the real answer to why the iPad 2 could still outperform the Tegra 3...of course it is in a synthetic benchmark.

JdL wrote:Still can't get over how the Android OS itself has been the biggest bottleneck. As soon as someone else comes out with a decent OS that runs on multiple platforms, Android is going to get old FAST.


Windows 8?
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Sun Nov 20, 2011 12:34 pm

MadManOriginal wrote:Where Apple does deserve credit however is software - optimizing iOS and drivers to squeeze that much performance out of a 'common' GPU that anyone else could license.

No amount of software optimization will overcome the current GPU performance gap. Hopefully we will see Ice Cream Sandwich running on a SGX 543MP2 in the not to distant future.

MadManOriginal wrote:
JdL wrote:Still can't get over how the Android OS itself has been the biggest bottleneck. As soon as someone else comes out with a decent OS that runs on multiple platforms, Android is going to get old FAST.

Windows 8?

My hope is that Ice Cream Sandwich is the release that marks Android's coming of age.

Windows 8 strikes me as a Jack of all trades, master of none.
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Sun Nov 20, 2011 4:43 pm

MadManOriginal wrote:I'm sure the Apple fanbois will give Apple full credit for 'fast hardware' even though they are really licensing it. Where Apple does deserve credit however is software - optimizing iOS and drivers to squeeze that much performance out of a 'common' GPU that anyone else could license. And I think that's the real answer to why the iPad 2 could still outperform the Tegra 3...of course it is in a synthetic benchmark.


I don't know if the PowerVR GPU in the IPad 2 can be referred to as "common". The PowerVR GPU I've seen commonly used is the SGX540 (Samsung Galaxy Tab). The SGX543MP2 in the IPad 2 is a dual core version that, according to Wikipedia, can render over 3x the number of triangles/second. Though I'm sure the efficiency of iOS helps too.

Anyway, seeing as how the SGX543MP2 has been out since March, I'm surprised that Nvidia would release Tegra 3 if it didn't have a good shot at outperforming it.
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Sun Nov 20, 2011 7:44 pm

Why is this such a big deal?

You have apple on one hand that optimizes for one set of hardware and one set only. You have Google that makes an OS for many different kinds of hardware. They can't optimize for all of them and they're not about to tell their hardware vendors what they can and cannot choose.

Its exactly like having a mac as your main computer vs. anything else. You won't find OSX natively on anything other than what apple says it can go on cause that what it was designed for.

I just realized the other day that the iPhone can be relocked with OS updates. My sister had unlocked her 3GS, and after some update from version 3.something to 4.something, her phone was relocked. Unless I am mis-understanding something.
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Mon Nov 21, 2011 1:27 pm

OK, how about this then.

Which platform (Tegra 3 or IPad 2) do you think will be best for 3D mobile gaming? Do you think Nvidia's relationship with game developers, commitment to gaming in general, etc, can/will overcome any potential shortcommings with hardware or Android OS to provide the better gaiming experience? Or does Apple already have them beat with the Ipad 2 when it comes to games?
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Mon Nov 21, 2011 1:35 pm

lex-ington wrote:I just realized the other day that the iPhone can be relocked with OS updates. My sister had unlocked her 3GS, and after some update from version 3.something to 4.something, her phone was relocked. Unless I am mis-understanding something.


If it was unlocked in the proper manner, ie: through the carrier or Apple, then no, an update WILL NOT re-lock it. But if its updated through jailbreaking with the software unlocker, then yes, it can. When the baseband firmware is updated, the exploits used to unlock them with software is closed, and the unlock no longer works.
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Mon Nov 21, 2011 2:05 pm

JdL wrote:Still can't get over how the Android OS itself has been the biggest bottleneck. As soon as someone else comes out with a decent OS that runs on multiple platforms, Android is going to get old FAST.


Why do you say this. I mean I don't think anything like android has ever existed. I struggle to see what android does wrong all the time with near constant updates and a good first party infrastructure in place I only see the 3rd party interference as the major issue with the OS.
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Mon Nov 21, 2011 2:40 pm

cynan wrote:OK, how about this then.

Which platform (Tegra 3 or IPad 2) do you think will be best for 3D mobile gaming? Do you think Nvidia's relationship with game developers, commitment to gaming in general, etc, can/will overcome any potential shortcommings with hardware or Android OS to provide the better gaiming experience? Or does Apple already have them beat with the Ipad 2 when it comes to games?


I see your point and that is a really tough one to answer. As far as I'm concerned, all of the big dogs are a bunch of under-handed, throat-cutting gangstas. It'll probably the developers that apple didn't pay off to maximize code for their platform that will shine on others. Too bad for Google for letting apple pay off the developers first. Only money talks in that world.
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Mon Nov 21, 2011 3:24 pm

kamikaziechameleon wrote:near constant updates

OS updates mean nothing when they are not made available to the majority of shipped devices. Fragmentation is a problem:

http://techcrunch.com/2011/10/27/charte ... mentation/
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Mon Nov 21, 2011 3:28 pm

lex-ington wrote:It'll probably the developers that apple didn't pay off to maximize code for their platform that will shine on others. Too bad for Google for letting apple pay off the developers first. Only money talks in that world.

Can you list developers that Apple has paid off?
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Mon Nov 21, 2011 4:09 pm

cynan wrote:Which platform (Tegra 3 or IPad 2) do you think will be best for 3D mobile gaming? Do you think Nvidia's relationship with game developers, commitment to gaming in general, etc, can/will overcome any potential shortcommings with hardware or Android OS to provide the better gaiming experience? Or does Apple already have them beat with the Ipad 2 when it comes to games?

Tegra 3 has not shipped yet. The first Tegra 3 device (Transformer Prime) won't even ship with Ice Cream Sandwich. The iPad 2 is available now and it ships with the latest OS.

Does Android have a Game Centre equivalent?

The person who buys the iPad 2 will not need to concern themselves with Nvidia's relationship with game developers or commitment to gaming in general nor will they have to deal with any potential shortcomings with hardware or the OS.

At this point the iPad 2 is hands down the better gaming platform.
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Mon Nov 21, 2011 4:51 pm

cynan wrote:We'll obviously have to wait for the Transformer Prime's arrival to be sure, but this does not bode well for Tegra 3's graphics. After all, ins't Nvidia's core business 3D acceleration? How can they release another lackluster performer in this regard after Tegra 2 and be outperformed by the Apple platform that was released over two quarters ago?


Why would you be surprised that the A5's SGX543MP2 would be faster than the Tegra 3? On paper it's well over twice as powerful:

http://www.anandtech.com/show/5072/nvid ... revealed/2

....and has more than twice as much memory bandwidth (dual LPDDR channels) as well. It seems that given a (high) transistor budget, nVidia opted for 5 CPU cores and Apple for a massive GPU. Almost ironic, but it makes sense considering Apple's focus on mobile gaming and diminishing returns in most workloads for core counts above two.
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Mon Nov 21, 2011 5:35 pm

End User wrote:Tegra 3 has not shipped yet. The first Tegra 3 device (Transformer Prime) won't even ship with Ice Cream Sandwich. The iPad 2 is available now and it ships with the latest OS.


Yes, yes. This was stated in the OP.

End User wrote:Does Android have a Game Centre equivalent?


Yes. But it is probably not up to snuff with Apple's. Nvidia does have "Tegra Zone". Which apparently features a new games tailored for their mobile platforms. While this is behind apple, I wonder what sort of future planned commitment Nvidia has to this. Letting themselves get spanked by Apple right off the bat isn't a good start (if this is the case).

End User wrote:The person who buys the iPad 2 will not need to concern themselves with Nvidia's relationship with game developers...


Well no, except of course if Nvidia's gaming experience turns out to be better than Apple's on iOS/Ipad (which doesn't look to be the case here). If that does happen, Nvidia may have a chance at attracting enthusiasts. Nvidia is planning to release the 28nm Tegra 4 by the end of next year (Wayne) but that's only if their road map can be trusted. Perhaps 28nm process will finally allow them to pull ahead performance wise - but then who knows what the Ipad 3 will have in it. I kind of think they packed in 4 cores just so their OEMs could have something extra to market (World's first quad core mobile...). As a result, at 40nm, there was only so much room and thermal footprint and their graphics suffered.

Beelzebubba9 wrote:.Why would you be surprised that the A5's SGX543MP2 would be faster than the Tegra 3? On paper it's well over twice as powerful:

http://www.anandtech.com/show/5072/nvid ... revealed/2

...and has more than twice as much memory bandwidth (dual LPDDR channels) as well. It seems that given a (high) transistor budget, nVidia opted for 5 CPU cores and Apple for a massive GPU. Almost ironic, but it makes sense considering Apple's focus on mobile gaming and diminishing returns in most workloads for core counts above two.


Thanks for posting that link. Somehow I missed Anand's analysis. Even the table in that article still doesn't paint a clear picture though. The SGX543MP2 only runs at 200 Mhz, while the Tegra 3 GPU apparently runs at over 300 Mhz. But it's probably not much more than 300 Mhz - and by the looks of things it would have to run at close to 500 Mhz to be competitive assuming linear scaling of performance. Then there is the fact that the PowerVR GPUs are tile-based renderers, while, to my limited understanding, the Geforce in Tegra 3 has more optimizations that might be able to be taken advantage of if a developer were to have the incentive...

I guess I just kind of assumed that Tegra 3 would give the A5/SGX543MP2 a run for its money in GPU performance. But I admit that this was based on absolutely nothing other than Nvidia being a market leader in performance GPUs for so many years. So far, looks like the assumption was off base.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who is hoping for an alternative mobile platform that can, at least performance-wise, challenge Apple. Looks like Tegra 3 isn't it. Boo Nvidia.
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Mon Nov 21, 2011 9:22 pm

cynan wrote:I guess I just kind of assumed that Tegra 3 would give the A5/SGX543MP2 a run for its money in GPU performance. But I admit that this was based on absolutely nothing other than Nvidia being a market leader in performance GPUs for so many years. So far, looks like the assumption was off base.


Well it was a reasonable assumption to make. :)

But looking at these actual in-game benchmarks pretty much tells you all you need to know about mobile GPU performance:

http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph4951/41612.png
-and-
http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph4951/41613.png

That's just a massive performance lead, especially considering the Mali-400 just came out a few weeks ago and the A5 shipped in January of this year. Apple has a ton of money and on rare occasion they use it to do something cool.
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Mon Nov 21, 2011 11:14 pm

Oh but looky here!. All these industry insiders think Tegra 3 is the bee's knees for mobile gaming! I'd be a little more hopeful if the article didn't read so much like an ad for Nvidia. At least Nvidia seems to have some commitment to games development. Or maybe it's just all pre-launch smoke and mirrors.

Well, at least there seems to be some development going on for games to specifically take advantage of Tegra 3 (apparently there are about 15 or so in the works). I wonder if any will be as visually impressive as Infinity Blade. There is mention about how the extra A9 cores can be used to improve physics, AI and even graphical effects (reads almost as if they are offloading GPU duties to the CPU cores). I wonder if there is any truth to this. Extra parallel CPU processing power should at least be one area Tegra 3 has a chance to outshine A5.

Honestly, I'm trying to decide between getting an Ipad 2 or a Transformer Prime. There are many features I like about the Prime, including the lower cost (for what you get) extra ports (mem card and hdmi out) and the ability to play games with a current console controller when connected to an external monitor (though I admit, this does sound a bit gimmicky). I also like the fact that I'll be able to play my media files without having to convert them first. The seeming lack luster GPU performance of Tegra 3 has given me pause and has me looking at the Ipad.
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Mon Nov 21, 2011 11:28 pm

cynan wrote:
MadManOriginal wrote:I'm sure the Apple fanbois will give Apple full credit for 'fast hardware' even though they are really licensing it. Where Apple does deserve credit however is software - optimizing iOS and drivers to squeeze that much performance out of a 'common' GPU that anyone else could license. And I think that's the real answer to why the iPad 2 could still outperform the Tegra 3...of course it is in a synthetic benchmark.


I don't know if the PowerVR GPU in the IPad 2 can be referred to as "common". The PowerVR GPU I've seen commonly used is the SGX540 (Samsung Galaxy Tab). The SGX543MP2 in the IPad 2 is a dual core version that, according to Wikipedia, can render over 3x the number of triangles/second. Though I'm sure the efficiency of iOS helps too.

Anyway, seeing as how the SGX543MP2 has been out since March, I'm surprised that Nvidia would release Tegra 3 if it didn't have a good shot at outperforming it.


Make sense now that I highlighted the full quote that you narrowed in on? And does it make sense why I put 'common' in quotes?
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Mon Nov 21, 2011 11:39 pm

cynan wrote:Honestly, I'm trying to decide between getting an Ipad 2 or a Transformer Prime. There are many features I like about the Prime, including the lower cost (for what you get) extra ports (mem card and hdmi out) and the ability to play games with a current console controller when connected to an external monitor (though I admit, this does sound a bit gimmicky). I also like the fact that I'll be able to play my media files without having to convert them first. The seeming lack luster GPU performance of Tegra 3 has given me pause and has me looking at the Ipad.

I think you are worrying far too much about benchmark performance. I'd ignore the benchmarks and focus on real world gameplay. Are there any games that max out current Android hardware? The only game I can think of that pushes the iPad 2 is Infinity Blade 2.

Based upon what you want in a tablet I'd say the Prime is exactly what you need. Don't buy anything until the Prime gets reviewed.
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Mon Nov 21, 2011 11:45 pm

MadManOriginal wrote:
cynan wrote:
I don't know if the PowerVR GPU in the IPad 2 can be referred to as "common". The PowerVR GPU I've seen commonly used is the SGX540 (Samsung Galaxy Tab). The SGX543MP2 in the IPad 2 is a dual core version that, according to Wikipedia, can render over 3x the number of triangles/second. Though I'm sure the efficiency of iOS helps too.

Anyway, seeing as how the SGX543MP2 has been out since March, I'm surprised that Nvidia would release Tegra 3 if it didn't have a good shot at outperforming it.


Make sense now that I highlighted the full quote that you narrowed in on? And does it make sense why I put 'common' in quotes?


Sorry. I wasn't sure that the PowerVR GPU in the Apple devices wasn't restricted to Apple only as nobody else seems to be using it. But it looks like it isn't Apple exclusive after all. Makes you wonder why companies like Samsung is releasing new flagship devices using the SGX540 (Nexus Prime)...
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:52 am

You're right it's not common in the marketplace though, I thought I made the point clear that it's not a 'special' GPU in terms of potential availability you just took the words more literally.

As to why NV might release something that's not competitive - hubris? How bad would it make NV look if they licensed another GPU, and what would the point of their SoC even be then? Heck, with Mali performing so well what's the point of anything other than a pure ARM Holdings design? Maybe the other graphics sections have a lower cost, I don't know, but that's about all I can think of.

I guess things are more complex in ARM CPU design than it seems to a layman when clearly different chips have performance that varies by more than their clock speed differences.
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Tue Nov 22, 2011 7:30 am

Just wait for windows 8, and x86. once that happens, mobile gaming will be MUCH better. Microsoft Makes Os'. Apple makes Os'. Google makes search engines, and they should all stay that way.
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:51 am

cynan wrote:Sorry. I wasn't sure that the PowerVR GPU in the Apple devices wasn't restricted to Apple only as nobody else seems to be using it. But it looks like it isn't Apple exclusive after all. Makes you wonder why companies like Samsung is releasing new flagship devices using the SGX540 (Nexus Prime)...


I don't think it's about the availability of the IP, as much as where the SoC manufacturer wants to be on the cost:performance:power consumption curve. My guess is that most of TI/Qualcomm/Samsung's customers don't see the value in doubling the size (and increasing the cost) of a SoC to get massive GPU performance when gaming on Android is still pretty weak compared to iOS. Apple, on the other hand, has good reason to make hardware than can run games like Infinity Blade 2 so it makes sense for them to burn a lot of transistors to get that performance.

Also, if you ever get a chance, I highly recommend checking out Infinity Blade HD on an iPad 2. Seeing a game that pretty running a tiny tablet is kind of a marvel.
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Re: Tegra 3 May Lag Behind IPad 2 in GPU Performance

Postposted on Tue Nov 22, 2011 10:48 am

sweatshopking wrote:Just wait for windows 8, and x86. once that happens, mobile gaming will be MUCH better. Microsoft Makes Os'. Apple makes Os'. Google makes search engines, and they should all stay that way.


Doubtful that x86 will have much of a future growth track. Windows 8 already supports ARM.
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