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Performance From Scorpion To Krait: What A Difference One Generation Makes

Snapdragon S4 Pro: Krait And Adreno 320, Benchmarked
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GeekBench v2

Beyond the speeds and feeds, how do the performance of Qualcomm's Scorpion and Krait cores differ? GeekBench can help us out with a general assessment.

GeekBench Scores
SoC
Integer
Floating-Point
Memory
Nvidia Tegra 3 (T30L)
(Four Cortex-A9 Cores @ 1.3 GHz)
1298
2288
1222
TI OMAP 4430
(Two Cortex-A9 Cores @ 1 GHz)
7501298853
Apple A5/A5X
(Two Cortex-A9 Cores @ 1 GHz)
691
921
830
Qualcomm S3 (APQ8060)
(Two Scorpion Cores @ 1.2 GHz)
594
708946
Qualcomm S4 Plus (MSM8960)
(Two Krait Cores @ 1.5 GHz)
964
2251
1666
Qualcomm S4 Pro (APQ8064)
(Four Krait Cores @ 1.5 GHz)
1400
3292
1276


According to our numbers, Krait nearly triples the performance of its predecessor, with the biggest gain seen in floating-point performance. Also interesting is the comparison between Krait and Nvidia's Tegra 3, which drives tablets like the Nexus 7 and Transformer Pad.

Strong floating-point performance is a notable boon for game developers, and we hope that Qualcomm's strength in this discipline serves to further the work being done in mobile gaming. Google's own Android documentation recommends judicious use of floating-point math, since it's about 2x slower than integer math on Android-based devices. And yet, we see TI's OMAP 4430 outmaneuver Apple's A5/A5X in GeekBench's floating-point metric, despite the fact that they both employ dual Cortex-A9 cores at 1 GHz. So, what's that say about performance under iOS?

Although software developers are still tied to programming for multiple hardware platforms, some faster and some slower, it's entirely possible that, in some situations, Krait-based devices will offer the best performance currently available.

SiSoft Sandra, Android Edition

Sandra is one of those diagnostic tools that lets us dig a little deeper on the desktop, isolating specific performance characteristics in a granular way. SiSoftware eventually plans to release an Android-specific version of the software, but the company granted us exclusive access to an early beta copy for our story today.

SiSoftware Sandra Aggregate Performance

OMAP 4430
Tegra 3 (T30L)
S3
(APQ8060)
S4 Plus
(MSM8960)
S4 Pro
(APQ8064)
CPU
Two Cortex-A9 Cores @ 1 GHz
Four Cortex-A9 Cores @ 1.3 GHz
Two Scorpion Cores @ 1.2 GHz
Two Krait Cores @ 1.5 GHz
Four Krait Cores @ 1.5 GHz
Native Arithmetic (MOPS)463
1133
365593
1194
Native Multi-media
(kPix/s)
2301
5912
3297
5067
9642
Java Arithmetic (MOPS)
90
225
86
171
278
Memory
(MB/s)
603
968
1265
3308
4104


Naturally, the quad-core architectures are at an inherent advantage in any threaded workload. So, we also run aggregate performance-per-core tests to zero in on the capabilities of each computational building block.

Again, the S4 Pro platform's Krait processor takes a commanding lead over the Cortex-A9- and Scorpion-based competition.

Aggregate Performance-Per-Core

OMAP 4430Tegra 3 (T30L) S3 (APQ8060)S4 Plus (MSM8960)
S4 Pro (APQ8064)
CPU
Two Cortex-A9 Cores @ 1 GHzFour Cortex-A9 Cores @ 1.3 GHzTwo Scorpion Cores @ 1.2 GHzTwo Krait Cores @ 1.5 GHz
Four Krait Cores @ 1.5 GHz
Native Arithmetic
(MOPS/Thread)
231.5
283.2
182.5296.5
298.5
Native Multi-media
(kPix/s/Thread)
1150.5
1478.0
1648.5
2533.5
2410.5
Java Arithmetic
(MOPS/Thread)
45.0
56.2
43.0
85.5
69.5
Memory
(MB/s/Thread)
301.5
242.0
632.5
1654.0
1026.0
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Top Comments
  • 20 Hide
    shotgunz , October 11, 2012 5:03 AM
    Naw, more like give foxconn workers better salary, do something good with mountain of money they have, stop patent trolling, stop silly war with google/samsung and stop lieing. Then maybe Apple will be forgiven.
  • 17 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , October 11, 2012 6:01 AM
    No comparison with Samsung exynos4 ?
  • 12 Hide
    luciferano , October 11, 2012 5:33 AM
    shotgunzNaw, more like give foxconn workers better salary, do something good with mountain of money they have, stop patent trolling, stop silly war with google/samsung and stop lieing. Then maybe Apple will be forgiven.


    Well, it'd be a start. I wouldn't go nearly as far as all is forgiven.
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    shotgunz , October 11, 2012 5:03 AM
    Naw, more like give foxconn workers better salary, do something good with mountain of money they have, stop patent trolling, stop silly war with google/samsung and stop lieing. Then maybe Apple will be forgiven.
  • 12 Hide
    luciferano , October 11, 2012 5:33 AM
    shotgunzNaw, more like give foxconn workers better salary, do something good with mountain of money they have, stop patent trolling, stop silly war with google/samsung and stop lieing. Then maybe Apple will be forgiven.


    Well, it'd be a start. I wouldn't go nearly as far as all is forgiven.
  • 17 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , October 11, 2012 6:01 AM
    No comparison with Samsung exynos4 ?
  • 8 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , October 11, 2012 6:01 AM
    AFAIUI, the PowerVR GPU in ipad3 is more of a brute force architecture. "Just throw more transistors" is its mantra. So its good in current workloads.
    The Adreno320 is more refined and optimised arch. Trying to get the most performance from least silicon area. It is still being refined. Hence, it will do well in future applications.
  • 3 Hide
    esrever , October 11, 2012 6:30 AM
    This just makes the tegra 3 look bad.
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , October 11, 2012 7:47 AM
    Why the ST-ericsson 8500 isn't in this list either? too few phone out? Xperia S/P... looks it would rock some of concurrents.. omap..S3...
    Please be as exaustive as possible ;) 
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 11, 2012 7:58 AM
    Error in the chart on second page.
    The cortex A15 DMIPS/MHz should read above the A9. Around 3.5 DMIPS/MHz from the rumblings.
  • 9 Hide
    Anonymous , October 11, 2012 8:13 AM
    These krait numbers aren't very impressive if you normalize for clockspeeds.
    In fact, they seem to suggest only a very small improvement over A9, if any at all.
  • 0 Hide
    mayne92 , October 11, 2012 8:15 AM
    Very nice review Andrew!
  • 9 Hide
    Memnarchon , October 11, 2012 9:39 AM
    Why placing only the weakest version of Tegra 3 and not Tegra 3 T33 (ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity 700)??? Or both of them.
  • 12 Hide
    darkchazz , October 11, 2012 9:59 AM
    Tegra 3 is complete overhyped trash. abysmal memory bandwidth and weak GPU performance with useless extra cores.
    Why isn't the exynos quad in the comparison?
  • 3 Hide
    dgingeri , October 11, 2012 12:08 PM
    This is a pretty good article, but I have one problem with it: the Tegra 3 is probably not the best example for the Cortex-A9. It's hobbled with very low memory bandwidth. It could probably perform better (including the GPU) with a better memory interface. Nvidia made a major design mistake with that.
  • 0 Hide
    jaquith , October 11, 2012 2:05 PM
    Nice article.

    You might want to fix (bold) the 'Aggregate Performance Per Core' chart; note the Plus & Pro numbers.
  • 4 Hide
    fulle , October 11, 2012 2:54 PM
    mayankleoboy1AFAIUI, the PowerVR GPU in ipad3 is more of a brute force architecture. "Just throw more transistors" is its mantra. So its good in current workloads. The Adreno320 is more refined and optimised arch. Trying to get the most performance from least silicon area. It is still being refined. Hence, it will do well in future applications.


    No. PowerVR holds some very specific advantages over there competition... Such as shader-driven tile-based deferred rendering (TBDR) architecture.... and their GPUs are actually MORE efficient than their competition. Not less.

    It's still very impressive what Qualcomm's done... I'm just not thinking they'll dethrone PowerVR anytime soon as the mobile graphics performance leader.
  • -4 Hide
    ddpruitt , October 11, 2012 3:21 PM
    It's interesting that the S4 needs 1.5 Ghz to beat the Tegra. And that's a high end Snapdragon vs bottom of the line Tegra. I'd bet that at the same clock rate with a level playing field these two would trade blows. This tells me that the Snapdragon is still way behind Tegra. S4 isn't in any production hardware and Nvidia is going to release the next Tegra chips in a few months.

    When Tegra and Snapdragon devices are available at the same time I'd bet that Tegra will handily beat Snapdragon. I wouldn't say Qualcomm is back in the fight, I would say this is Qualcomm's last desperate attempt to stay relevent
  • 1 Hide
    Bricktop , October 11, 2012 5:27 PM
    Good Review. I'm curious as to how accurate your "aggregate" single core performance numbers are to a real single threaded benchmark. I'm not an expert, but I thought the memory controller and GPU were separate from the CPU Cores. Can you simply divide those benchmark numbers by 4 to get single core memory and multimedia performance?
  • 0 Hide
    edlivian , October 11, 2012 5:27 PM
    this soc shall be at the heart of my next phone.

    Google, please allow the next nexus to be powerful, and have expandable memory.

    Enough imitating apples cloud dreams, we want local storage!!!!
    64GB microsd card is $48 on pace to be $36 by next year.
  • 3 Hide
    hameem_1 , October 11, 2012 6:16 PM
    this is so much great tosee Toms's hardaware doing mobile gpu benchmarks
  • 2 Hide
    marcel17 , October 11, 2012 8:01 PM
    Now , let's wait and see until some phones/tablets come on the market with the S4Pro .
    BTW , why are the Exynos4 and the A6 missing from the review ? I think they are the most relevant competition to the S4 .
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