Tegra2 vs Atom in Browsing Test

Posted on 24 January 2011 by

I don’t have Honeycomb here and I don’t have the latest Atom platform here but in the video below I do have two devices that show the browsing speed differences between Tegra 2 and Atom. The Toshiba AC100 running the ‘old’ Android 2.1 build and the Gigabyte Touchnote running an ‘old’ Atom N270 are both mainstream builds and it’s worth taking a look at how the browsing speed compares.

My estimate, following these tests, is that Android/Tegra is just one iteration (either software or hardware) away from matching what a netbook can provide. And remember, we’re into the sub 10 second category here where 10% or 20% difference is not worth talking about. 1 second isn’t much, really.

Did I miss something? Perhaps we should be running 10 tabs and Flash, that’s true. The ‘built-for-multitasking’ X86 and Windows platform should pull ahead but consider this performance on a 7” screen where multitasking gets hidden by the one-pane user interface.

My final thought here is that ARM platforms are not only progressing as fast as the X86 platforms but also get a huge advantage from the massive, massive investment going into mobile software. Right now, the leading browser engines are on X86 but expect that to flip over in 2011 or 2012.

In 2007 I highlighted a 9-second penalty on ARM. In 2011, we’re down to 1-2 seconds. We’re down to irrelevant differences.

I’m interested in your thoughts. Please comment below.

Categorized | Hands On

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  • Iain

    “Right now, the leading browser engines are on X86 but expect that to flip over in 2011 or 2012.”

    I don’t think we should assume that the X86 browser status quo will extend to ARM anytime soon.

    The big story is WebKit. WebKit has been the dominant browser engine on ARM since 2007. WebKit ships with every Android and iOS device. WebKit has changed the game on ARM. I don’t see that changing in 2011/2012.

    Windows 8 on ARM is an unknown quantity. It will have to sell extremely well before IE comes close to meaningful numbers on ARM. I assume WebKit (Chrome) will have a meaningful slice of the browser pie on Windows 8 ARM as well.

  • Patrick

    IMHO i think that AMD’s CEO got sacked off because of sell off of the mobile GPU division to Qualcomm and not pushing towards ARM R&D.

    Tegra 2 has cca. 5000 MIPS, Tegra 3 will have cca 13000 MIPS and GPU will be almost powerful as XBox 360.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instructions_per_second

    x86 is toasted and burned in general consumer market.

    • Chippy

      What about new Power-VR cores? Samsung use them in their ARM CPUs and they are competitive. They are a licensed part of the Z-series processors and running at 400Mhz now. As for raw CPU performance, Intel know how to do that.
      Also, we need to know what sort of power envelope 5000 MIPS will take! My guess is that the ARM power envelope is widening up to that of Z-Series platforms. I wouldn’t call Intel ‘toasted’ because there’s a long long way to go yet. If products like Android and iPad can turn things around in months, there’s absolutely nothing stopping a new product, OS or service from turning things around.

      In the back of my head I’m always wondering how much it would cost Intel to convince Apple to port iOS on to X86 for their first iOS-powered laptop-style device! That’s the sort of product that could turn things around!

      Still, for the time being, ARM has it.

      • Patrick

        So Tegra 2 has arround 70 million triangles/s throughput.. miscalculation then, they will have 200-350 mt/s

        http://armdevices.net/2010/11/11/samsung-orion-arm-cortex-a9-shown-for-the-first-time/

        ARM SoC will not consume more than few watts compared to old Atom platform and i’m still not convinced that Intel is capable of delivering “magic” to compete with ARM low power envelope. They can’t compete with AMD APU’s let alone ARM SoC’s.

        http://hothardware.com/Reviews/AMD-Zacate-E350-Processor-Performance-Preview/?page=8

      • Iain

        “In the back of my head I’m always wondering how much it would cost Intel to convince Apple to port iOS on to X86 for their first iOS-powered laptop-style device!”

        As iOS is derived from Mac OS X/Darwin there is not much in it to develop a version for x86. Apple may already have an x86 version of iOS in parallel development with the ARM version (similar to what they did with Mac OS X (x86 development in parallel with PowerPC). iOS may eventually run on x86 but I doubt we will see it on a laptop. iOS is a touch OS. Mac OS X is for laptops/desktops.

      • Sam

        On equivalent semiconductor design and manufacturing technology, it’s hard to see any x86 core doing as well on a computing power/watt basis as ARM (or any other RISC architecture), you’ve got to pay the x86 instruction decode logic penalty which is substantial for a small low-power implementation. The main reason that x86 still has a shot at the mobile CPU market is that Intel generally has a noticable semiconductor technology lead over the contract fabs like TSMC, and perhaps eventually, the power usage of the cpu will become low enough not to matter (or at least be tolerable).

        • Yes. Eventually ir will be all about integrated co processing for video, 3d, security. There was an interesting atom product with fpga shown last year. I’m wondering if that might be usable for some sort of html5 acceleration. Anyway, its the value-add and complete stack offering that could be interesting for manufacturers. From silicon to app store!

  • CaTiC

    WOW! very clear demo! This is the dawn of a new era.
    Is Dolphin taking advantage of Tegra’s dual-core?
    Given the initial latency in presenting graphics, the overall delay may have more to do with the GPU…

    Now imagine that with Qualcomm’s upcoming MSM8960…

    • Yeah. Add the processing advances with software advances and you can see how speed parity could be reached.

  • CaTiC

    Suddently the ATRIX webtop doesn’t look that off the mark…

    • Will

      Yup, I’m really excited about the Atrix and I hope that these sort of dock-able devices don’t die out. OQO/Flipstart/Everun type devices unfortunately failed. The main thing I’m worried about is application support for the Webtop interface.

      Isn’t the next netbook platform going to be Oak Trail? I thought Cedar Trail is the next next platform?

      The problem with ARM currently is the lack of a widely accepted “desktop” OS. People hated Linux-based netbooks (remember those) and netbooks only truly took off when they started shipping with XP. Gingerbread and iOS are fine for tablets but aren’t well suited to the laptop/netbook form factor.

      Just a suggestion, with these videos, please adjust the exposure so we can see what is happening on the screen.

  • Hi, nice to see your comparison. I made some tests with the AC100 with Android 2.1 and Ubuntu 10.10 in comparison to an Atom 270.
    The Tegra2 is on par with the Atom in most browser-benchmarks in Ubuntu 10.10, with even beating it in the Rightware Browserbench and scoring insanely high points there in comparison to Android.
    I think there is some resources of tegra2 not used in Android 2.1, maybe due to the filesystem. Newer revisions of Android should prove to be better here.
    BTW: I came to install Ubuntu mainly after reading your experiences with it, chippy, so thanks for that one.

    For more infromation:
    http://www.hardware-infos.com/berichte.php?bericht=60&seite=7 (German)

    • Thanks for the feedback. Interesting to read your test results.

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