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Qualcomm Snapdragon 801: Performance Previewed

3DMark And Basemark X 1.1

3DMark: Ice Storm Unlimited

Ice Storm simulates the demands of OpenGL ES 2.0-based games using shaders, particles, and physics via the company’s in-house engine. While it was just released in May of last year, the on-screen portions of Ice Storm have already been outpaced by more recent mobile chipsets, with Nvidia’s Tegra 4 and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 both easily maxing out the Extreme version (1080p with high-quality textures). However, Ice Storm Unlimited, which renders the scene off-screen at 720p is still a good gauge of GPU-to-GPU performance.

The Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet jumps up the ladder, taking second place with ease. Its improved Snapdragon 801 Adreno 330 GPU core (578 MHz versus the standard 450 MHz of Snapdragon 800) gives it a 15% lead over the Nexus 5 in the Graphics sub-test, and a 31% lead over Samsung's Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4. Assuming the memory bandwidth issue affects 3D workloads as well, those numbers could go up as Sony finalizes its hardware configuration.

Basemark X 1.1

Basemark X is a multi-platform suite based on a real game engine, Unity 4.0. It uses many of Unity’s modern features via the OpenGL ES 2.0 render path, just as a modern title might. Features like high poly-count models, shaders with normal maps, complex LoD algorithms, extensive per-pixel lighting (including directional and point light), along with a comprehensive set of post process, particle systems, and physics effects test how a modern game would look and run. It’s an aggressive test that still hasn’t been maxed out by the latest SoCs.

The Sony Xperia Z2 tablet takes third place in the medium quality metric, which doesn't surprise us, given the memory bandwidth results measured previously. Any workload limited by throughput is going to suffer, regardless of GPU clock rate increases.

Shifting to high quality apparently alleviates that bottleneck somewhat, resulting in a second-place finish behind Apple's A7. Fortunately, the next page of benchmarks should allow us to isolate the GPU more pointedly, without as much interference from other subsystems.