Back in January when we saw a glut of Android 3.0 powered tablets announced at the Consumer Electronics Show, one thing that made all of them seem magical was the hardware inside. Thanks to NVIDIA and their Tegra 2, dual core processors and ultra quick graphic performance became something we knew we wanted. Immediately. What would Apple do to match the likes of the Motorola Xoom and all those other Honeycomb tablets? It took a few months, but the iPad 2 was eventually announced, and launched, and boy does it pack a punch. While the exact details on the Apple A5 have yet to be nailed down, we know there are two cores in there, most likely the ARM Cortex A9, each clocked at 1 GHz, and on the graphics side there’s an Imagination Technologies PowerVR SGX 543MP2. Compared to the GPU in the original iPad, the SGX 535, the SGX 543MP2 has a shader pipeline that can process two instructions per clock cycle versus one, and there are four times the number of pipes. How exactly does that translate to real world performance and does it match up to Apple’s claim of a 9x performance improvement?
Benchmarks performed by Anandtech show that depending on what sort of test you’re running, users can expect to see a boost of between 3x to 7x. Using GLBenchmark 2.0 showed that the first iPad could manage to draw a healthy 8.7 million textured triangles per second. The iPad 2 does 29 million. There’s also a test in GLBenchmark 2.0 that runs through a scene much like you’d find in any modern game. The original iPad can churn through it at around 8 frames per second, wheres as the iPad 2 does it at 44 frames per second; over 5x faster. Turn on antialiasing and the iPad 2 is 7x faster.
It’ll take some time until developers can fully utilize this new horsepower, but let’s not kid ourselves, we’re more interested in the next iPhone getting an A5 chip than anything else.