NVIDIA’s newest, shiniest, fastest chip is called the Tegra 3. It features four ARM Cortex A9 processors and an ultra fast graphics processor that we can’t yet benchmark since there are no Tegra 3 smartphones out on the market. That’s going to change in a couple of months when the HTC One X ships, but that fact is irrelevant right now. Apple’s newest, shiniest, fastest chip is called the A5X. It features two ARM Cortex A9 processors and a “quad core graphics processor” that we can’t bench because … well, the new iPad isn’t coming out until the 16th. One thing Apple mentioned during the new iPad’s announcement yesterday was that it had a GPU that was 4x as fast as NVIDIA’s Tegra 3. What’s NVIDIA’s reaction? They told ZDNet:
“We have to understand what the application was that was used. Was it one or a variety of applications? What drivers were used? There are so many issues to get into with benchmark. At some point it will become more clear what the performance really is. For now, Apple has a really generic statement.”
As defensive as that sounds, they also told the folks at The Verge that:
“It’s nice to hear Apple compare themselves to Tegra 3. It truly underscores the importance of graphics, which is what we’ve been saying all along.”
Rewind your clocks back to April 2011. The Samsung Galaxy S II had just come out, journalists got their review units in the mail, and they all pretty much said the same thing, that it was the smoothest Android experience they’ve ever had. Why? Because the Galaxy S II has one of the fastest graphics processors currently on the market, ARM’s Mali-400. The Adreno processor in the S3 and S4 Snapdragon just don’t come close, and it’s going to be until the S4 Pro comes out in late 2012 that Qualcomm will have something impressive to bring to the table.
Why is any of this important? Because the interfaces we interact with are very graphically intensive, and it’s not the CPU that’s the limiting factor anymore, it’s actually the GPU. Which makes NVIDIA happy since they’re a market leader in GPU technology, but also makes them pissed because Apple is saying they’re better than NVIDIA. Here’s hoping the core wars are over and companies start tooting their horns about the GPUs in their new smartphones and tablets.