Cortex A9, Atom face off in web browsing match

— 5:06 PM on January 7, 2010

When we looked at smartbooks based on first-gen Tegra hardware last summer, we weren't all that impressed with their web browsing performance—rendering felt generally sluggish and choppy even in a lightweight Windows CE installation. So, what kind of performance can you expect from the freshly announced Tegra 2 and its dual ARM Cortex A9 microprocessor cores? A video posted in ARM's YouTube channel gives some pretty good hints.

The video shows a standoff between an Atom-based Acer netbook and a development board with a dual-core, 500MHz Cortex A9, both running public Ubuntu Linux releases and loading the same pages. Behold:

The Atom system performs better overall, but not by a whole lot. Rendering and scrolling look reasonably quick on the ARM box, and that's despite it being clocked at 500MHz and lacking a GPU. Nvidia's Tegra 250 SoC ought to be faster, since it runs its Cortex A9 cores at up to 1GHz and features both OpenGL ES 2.0-compliant graphics processing and 1080p video decoding capabilities.

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