In August, at the TouchWiz UX event, we asked a Samsung representative when we would see Exynos in a tablet, he promised it would be within the year. They've kept their promise. Earlier today we confirmed with Samsung that the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus will come with an Exynos SoC, and clocked at 1.2 GHz it will carry the same oomph as found in the Samsung Galaxy S 2.

When we first met Honeycomb, in the Motorola Xoom, the only variations between models was exterior. Each sported a 10.1" screen at 1280x800 and was equipped with a NVIDIA Tegra 2 SoC. Not much has changed about that until now. Recently though, we've seen new SoC's receive their own Android 3.x ports, starting with the Archos G9 line and their TI OMAP 4 SoC's, then the Huawei Mediapad with its Qualcomm Snapdragon S3, and now Samsung's Exynos in the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus. All of these processors feature two cores, Scorpion in the S3 and A9 in the rest, and all but the NVIDIA are clocked the same. But will they perform differently when pitted against each other?


Anand spent some time mulling over this question in our Samsung Galaxy S 2 (International) review, and it breaks down to four key areas of difference: clock speed, MPE/NEON implementation, memory interface and GPU. Clock speed is straightforward, with no 1.2 GHz Tegra 2 parts on the market there will be an inherent 20% performance increase in these newer devices. When NVIDIA released Tegra 2, they aimed for a smaller die size by eliminating ARM's Media Processing Engine, something the other SoC's include, so in some tests Tegra 2 will be at a further disadvantage. Further, only the Tegra 2 uses a single channel memory interface, limiting memory bandwidth. Mobile graphics have grown in complexity rapidly, owing not just to interest in mobile gaming, but also, at times, to supplement the CPU in certain tasks such as web browsing and UI navigation. 

The Tegra 2 impressed initially with smooth performance in complex tests and demos; and while it remains a potent GPU, the Mali-400 will be king of the Android GPU hill for some time. Qualcomm uses their somewhat aging Adreno 220, and with the G9 Turbo series now expected to run TI's OMAP 4430 (clocked at 1.2 GHz, in lieu of OMAP 4460) we expect the similarly aging PowerVR SGX 540 clocked at 304 MHz. Neither the Adreno nor the PowerVR GPUs stand a chance of toppling the Mali, but will provide good competition for the Tegra 2. 

We've taken a look at each of these platforms in phones, and come away with the Exynos as the clear leader. So, we're excited to see how these platforms fare when exposed to Honeycomb, which should be a closer indicator to how they'll perform when Ice Cream Sandwich lands. 

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  • Penti - Thursday, November 3, 2011 - link

    Kal-els GPU is by no means vastly superior in performance it is only about twice or third times as fast as Tegra 2. So it's still slower then 543MP2. There will be plenty of quad-cores with mali around next year too.
  • jjj - Thursday, November 3, 2011 - link

    543MP2 is not relevant here since no SoCs using Android are using it now or in the imediate future (to contradict the claim that Mali will be king for some time).As a side note some folks like to brag about how fast Apple's SoC is but they forget to mention how huge it is compared to others and what kind of costs such a huge die would imply.
    Plenty of quad cores next year(with any GPU)? Not so much.I can only think of Nvidia and Creative having quad cores that soon but not Qualcomm, or TI or Marvell or ST-E.
  • skydrome1 - Thursday, November 3, 2011 - link

    Well, with the PS Vita coming soon, I'm pretty sure there'll be a modded version of Android for dual booting :)

    Then Android will have the fastest GPU again. Until Series 6, that is.
  • lmcd - Thursday, November 3, 2011 - link

    I'm looking at the graphics comparison in the second-to-last paragraph, and would like some more details to help compare:

    What was the clock frequency of the PowerVR SGX 540 in Hummingbird? It'd be useful for comparison.

    Wasn't Scorpion Single-Channel as well (in practice)?

    For comparison with later chips:

    What GPU is OMAP 5xxx? Everyone is citing iPad2-killing, but isn't it 544, not 544MP2? So wouldn't 543MP2 still win?

    (This could basically be the source of a mobile graphics round-up, but it's important for purchasing decisions).
  • JasonInofuentes - Sunday, November 6, 2011 - link

    Hmm... lots to digest, and yes this might end up being a post in the future.

    Hummingbird's 540 ran at ~200 MHz, and if you look at some of the data you can bear this out with the Hummingbird performing ~33% worse than the OMAP 4430 on GLbench.

    Scorpion's memory I can't comment decisively on but I'll do some research on that.

    For later chips, the OMAP5 will still use TI's PowerVR SGX platform, and it will in the first mobile iteration use the 544-MPx, and the x is a variable. For power reasons it will likely still be a single unit, but later iterations might be of the MP2 variety, and even still, the MP1 variety will be a pretty big bump in performance. When we have more details, you'll have more details.

    Check out Anand's discussions on mobile GPUs (I love that that term used to be used for laptops not phones) in our SGSII review. He discusses a lot of the issues relevant here. Thanks for the comment.
  • McDave - Thursday, November 17, 2011 - link

    "TI's PowerVR SGX"
    Surley you mean Imagination's PowerVR SGX platform. Apple have a 10% stake in the company presumably why the A5 outperforms anything else in that line up (& not just graphics) - they should just buy it. Imagination are releasing the "Rogue" products next year I'm hoping it'll be in the A6 - insane specs and, fingers crossed, Caustic's real-time ray-trace engine - games that look like Pixar movies!

    Apple are so ahead of the curve in this but they'll need that graphics punch for the S3 tech Google map replacement - photo-realistic immersive 3D mapping - like Inception on my iPad.
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