Futuremark has become a name synonymous with benchmarking, and the company's latest iteration of 3DMark offers three main graphical benchmarks: Ice Storm, Cloud Gate and Fire Strike. Currently, the DirectX 9-level Ice Storm tests are cross-platform for Windows, Windows RT, Android and iOS.
Ice Storm simulates the demands of OpenGL ES 2.0 games using shaders, particles and physics via the company's in-house engine. Although it was just released in May of 2013, the on-screen portions of Ice Storm have already been outpaced by modern 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 Adreno 430 in the 810 posts a 36% higher graphics score than the 805, in line with Qualcomm's 30% estimate. However, there's a significant regression in the Physics score. As we discussed in our iPhone 6 review, Futuremark's investigation of Cyclone's Physics performance revealed that it has issues "dealing with non-sequential data structures with memory dependencies." Or in other words, Apple's memory controller is optimized for sequential rather than random access requests. It's possible that Snapdragon 810's memory controller has a similar preference for sequential data. Qualcomm's push into 4K video playback and recording as well as high resolution image processing would certainly benefit from a memory controller tuned for sequential access.
The Physics score may also be impacted by higher memory latency when dealing with random accesses with dependencies. Even if this were true however, it would not explain a 48% drop in performance on its own. More than likely, it's a combination of things.
Basemark X 1.1
Based on the Unity 4.0 game engine, Rightware’s Basemark X is a cross-platform graphics benchmark for Android, iOS and Windows Phone 8. This test utilizes Unity’s modern features via the OpenGL ES 2.0 render path to simulate how a modern game might look and run. Basemark X is an aggressive metric that still hasn’t been maxed out by the latest mobile SoCs.
The 810 doesn't seem to like Basemark X. It trails the 805 in both Dunes and Hangar at both Medium and High quality settings by as much as 20%. Considering how much faster Adreno 430 is in 3DMark and the other graphics tests we've run, I'm inclined to believe this is a software driver issue rather than hardware. The other possibility is thermal throttling, although I didn't notice excessive skin temperatures while running any of the benchmarks.
GFXBench 3.0 Corporate
Kishonti GFXBench 3.0 is a cross-platform GPU benchmark supporting both the OpenGL ES 2.0 and OpenGL ES 3.0 APIs. It comprises both “high-level” game-like scenarios, along with more “low-level” tests designed to measure specific subsystems.
Among the high-level tests are Manhattan and T-Rex. Manhattan is a modern, complex OpenGL ES 3.0-based test, while the OpenGL ES 2.0-level T-Rex is a holdover from GFXBench v2.7.
The low-level tests include Fill, which measures fill rate by rendering four layers of compressed textures; Alpha Blending, a test that renders layers of semi-transparent quads using high-resolution, uncompressed textures; ALU, for measuring shader compute performance; and Driver Overhead, which measures the CPU overhead of the graphics driver and API by making a lot of draw calls and state changes.
See GFXBench 3.0: A Fresh Look At Mobile Benchmarking for a complete test-by-test breakdown of this benchmark.
Qualcomm's 30% performance improvement estimate is proving to be pretty accurate. The Adreno 430 is 35% faster than Adreno 420 in Manhattan and 27% faster in T-Rex. It still can't touch the frame rates possible from Nvidia's year-old Kepler based GPU, though, and well, nobody's going to get anywhere close to the pixel shading prowess of the X1. Good grief! I'm very curious to find out how much power the X1 consumes.
The 810 is 9% slower than the 805 in the memory bandwidth limited Alpha Blending test, which agrees nicely with our multi-core STREAM results, where the 810 trailed by a similar amount. Moving to the ALU test, it looks like the Adreno 430 does indeed have additional shading assets based on its 68% performance improvement over the Adreno 420. Fill rate also improves putting the 810 second only to Nvidia's X1. Qualcomm also makes a noticeable gain in the driver overhead test.
Other than the suspected driver issue with Basemark X, the Adreno 430 delivers on its 30% performance increase prediction. If it's capable of sustaining these performance levels over time without throttling, then the 430 looks to be a substantial improvement over the temperature limited Adreno 420.