This morning we finally got our hands on Apple's iPhone 5. While we are eager to get started on battery life testing, that'll happen late tonight after a full day's worth of use and a recharge cycle. Meanwhile, we went straight to work on performance testing. As we've mentioned before, the A6 SoC makes use of a pair of Apple's own CPU cores that implement the ARMv7 ISA. These aren't vanilla Cortex A9s or Cortex A15s, but rather something of Apple's own design. For its GPU Apple integrated a PowerVR SGX543MP3 GPU running at higher clocks than the dual-core 543MP2 in the A5. The result is compute performance that's similar to the A5X in Apple's 3rd generation iPad, but with a smaller overall die area. The A6 has a narrower memory interface compared to the A5x (64-bits vs. 128-bits), but that makes sense given the much lower display resolution (0.7MP vs. 3.1MP).

As always, our performance analysis starts out on the CPU. Although we originally thought the A6 ran its two CPU cores at 1GHz, it looks like max clocks range between 800MHz and 1.2GHz depending on load. Geekbench reports clock speed at launch, which varied depending on CPU load. With an app download process in the background I got Geekbench to report a 1.2GHz clock speed, and with everything quiet in the background the A6 reported 800MHz after being queried. This isn't anything new as dynamic voltage/frequency adjustment is in all smartphones, but we do now have a better idea of the range.

The other thing I noticed is that without a network active I'm able to get another ~10% performance boost over the standard results while on a network. Take the BrowserMark results below for example, the first two runs are without the iPhone 5 being active on AT&T's network while the latter two are after I'd migrated my account over. The same was true for SunSpider performance, I saw numbers in the low 810ms range before I registered the device with AT&T.

Clean, No Network

Overall, the performance of the A6 CPU cores seems to be very good. The iPhone 4S numbers below are updated to iOS 6.0 so you can get an idea of performance improvement.


SunSpider Javascript Benchmark 0.9.1 - Stock Browser

As we mentioned in our earlier post, SunSpider is a small enough benchmark that it really acts as a cache test. The memory interface on the A6 seems tangibly better than any previous ARM based design, and the advantage here even outpaces Intel's own Medfield SoC.

I also ran some data using Google's V8 and Octane benchmarks, both bigger JavaScript tests than SunSpider. I had an AT&T HTC One X with me while in New York today (up here for meetings this week) and included its results in the charts below. Note that the default HTC web browser won't run the full Octane suite so I used Chrome there. I didn't use Chrome for the V8 test because it produced lower numbers than the stock browser for some reason.

Google V8 Benchmark - Version 7

Google Octane Benchmark v1

Here we see huge gains over the iPhone 4S, but much closer performance to the One X. In the case of Google's V8 benchmark the two phones are effectively identical, although Octane gives the iPhone 5 a 30% lead once more.

These are still narrowly focused tests, we'll be doing some more holisitic browser tests over the coming days. Finally we have Geekbench 2, comparing the iPhone 5 and 4S:

Geekbench 2 Performance
Geekbench 2 Overall Scores Apple iPhone 4S Apple iPhone 5
Geekbench Score 628 1640
Integer 545 1252
Floating Point 737 2101
Memory 747 1862
Stream 299 946

Apple claimed a 2x CPU performance advantage compared to the iPhone 4S during the launch event for the 5. How does that claim match up with our numbers? Pretty good actually:

This is hardly the most comprehensive list of CPU benchmarks, but on average we're seeing the iPhone 5 deliver 2.13x the scores of the iPhone 4S. We'll be running more application level tests over the coming days so stay tuned for those.

A6 GPU Performance: Nearly Identical to the iPad 3

Before we got a die shot of Apple's A6 we had good information pointing to a three core PowerVR SGX 543MP3 in the new design. As a recap, Imagination Technologies' PowerVR SGX543 GPU core features four USSE2 pipes. Each pipe has a 4-way vector ALU that can crank out 4 multiply-adds per clock, which works out to be 16 MADs per clock or 32 FLOPS. Imagination lets the customer stick multiple 543 cores together, which scales compute performance linearly. The A5 featured a two core design, running at approximately 200MHz based on our latest news. The A5X in the 3rd generation iPad featured a four core design, running at the same 200MHz clock speed.

The A6 on the other hand features a three core PowerVR SGX 543MP3, running at higher clock speeds to deliver a good balance of die size while still delivering on Apple's 2x GPU performance claim. The raw specs are below:

Mobile SoC GPU Comparison
  Adreno 225 PowerVR SGX 540 PowerVR SGX 543MP2 PowerVR SGX 543MP3 PowerVR SGX 543MP4 Mali-400 MP4 Tegra 3
# of SIMDs 8 4 8 12 16 4 + 1 12
MADs per SIMD 4 2 4 4 4 4 / 2 1
Total MADs 32 8 32 48 64 18 12
GFLOPS As Shipped by Apple/ASUS - - 12.8 GFLOPS 25.5 GFLOPS 25.6 GFLOPS - 12

The result is peak theoretical GPU performance that's near identical to the A5X in the 3rd generation iPad. The main difference is memory bandwidth. The A5X features a 128-bit wide memory interface while the A6 retains the same 64-bit wide interface as the standard A5. In memory bandwidth limited situations, the A5X will still be quicker but it's quite likely that at the iPhone 5's native resolution we won't see that happen.

We ran through the full GLBenchmark 2.5 suite to get a good idea of GPU performance. Note that the 3rd gen iPad results are still on iOS 5.1 so there's a chance you'll see some numbers change as we move to iOS 6.

We'll start out with the raw theoretical numbers beginning with fill rate:

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Fill Test

The iPhone 5 nips at the heels of the 3rd generation iPad here, at 1.65GTexels/s. The performance advantage over the iPhone 4S is more than double, and even the Galaxy S 3 can't come close.

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Fill Test (Offscreen 1080p)

Triangle throughput is similarly strong:

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Triangle Texture Test

Take resolution into account and the iPhone 5 is actually faster than the new iPad, but normalize for resolution using GLBenchmark's offscreen mode and the A5X and A6 look identical:

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Triangle Texture Test (Offscreen 1080p)

The fragment lit texture test does very well on the iPhone 5, once again when you take into account the much lower resolution of the 5's display performance is significantly better than on the iPad:

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Triangle Texture Test - Fragment Lit

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Triangle Texture Test - Fragment Lit (Offscreen 1080p)

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Triangle Texture Test - Vertex Lit

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Triangle Texture Test - Vertex Lit (Offscreen 1080p)

The next set of results are the gameplay simulation tests, which attempt to give you an idea of what game performance based on Kishonti's engine would look like. These tests tend to be compute monsters, so they'll make a great stress test for the iPhone 5's new GPU:

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Egypt HD

Egypt HD was the great equalizer when we first met it, but the iPhone 5 does very well here. The biggest surprise however is just how well the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro with Adreno 320 GPU does by comparison. LG's Optimus G, a device Brian flew to Seoul, South Korea to benchmark, is hot on the heels of the new iPhone.

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Egypt HD (Offscreen 1080p)

When we run everything at 1080p the iPhone 5 looks a lot like the new iPad, and is about 2x the performance of the Galaxy S 3. Here, LG's Optimus G actually outperforms the iPhone 5! It looks like Qualcomm's Adreno 320 is quite competant in a phone.

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Egypt Classic

The Egypt classic tests are much lighter workloads and are likely a good indication of the type of performance you can expect from many games today available on the app store. At its native resolution, the iPhone 5 has no problems hitting the 60 fps vsync limit.

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Egypt Classic (Offscreen 1080p)

Remove vsync, render at 1080p and you see what the GPUs can really do. Here the iPhone 5 pulls ahead of the Adreno 320 based LG Optimus G and even slightly ahead of the new iPad.

Once again, looking at GLBenchmark's on-screen and offscreen Egypt tests we can get a good idea of how the iPhone 5 measures up to Apple's claims of 2x the GPU performance of the iPhone 4S:

Removing the clearly vsync limited result from the on-screen Egypt Classic test, the iPhone 5 performs about 2.26x the speed of the 4S. If we include that result in the average you're still looking at a 1.95x average. As we've seen in the past, these gains don't typically translate into dramatically higher frame rates in games, but games with better visual quality instead.

Final Words

We still have a lot of work ahead of us, including evaluating the power profile of the new A6 SoC. Stay tuned for more data in our full review of the iPhone 5.

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  • tuxRoller - Sunday, September 23, 2012 - link

    Well, you make
    First, if you think Dalvik==JVM (which I assume is your point since you are making sweeping, and inaccurate, claims about Java and seem to be confusing the language with the runtime) you are mistaken. The Sun/Oracle JVM (Hotspot) is extremely fast, and very competitive for many algorithms, excepting those with very short run times ( Dalvik isn't as optimized as Hotspot (but it has already improved greatly with their new GC in 3.0). So, you can find benchmarks with 5-10x differences but to say that is the norm is incorrect (though, I suppose, it depends on what you are working on from day to day, but hopefully you understand my point).
    Second, Geekbench uses native code b/c in order to measure low level performance (like the mem speeds), but since it isn't open source, we don't really know how they are doing things (seriously, people, why are we relying on non-open source benchmarks?). Regardless of GB, though, I would imagine most, if not all, of the Google apps on android are native.
    Third, can you post a video showing the difference in latency between nexus 7 and ios device? I ask because I've used both (though own neither) and each time I am surprised with both. One, I keep thinking iphone/ipad is more responsive than it is (I use vertical text scrolling in order to get an idea of input lag), and two, I think Android is less responsive than it is (this, at least, is reasonable since I own a Nexus S which simply isn't fast enough for the software, but the Nexus 7 doesn't seem to have any of the same problems). Frankly I've looked for a video of this type (Tom's Hardware used to use a 1000 frames/sec camera to show input lag but they didn't use it with the Nexus 7) but have found nothing.
    Lastly, can you please tell me what you think ios "accelerates" that android doesn't (at least since 3.0)? The browser, in particular, is something that has been mentioned in Android developer blogs as something where they "recently" changed the rendering model (though, still, it has been "accelerated" for years) to a tile based, on demand approach (like Safari, they mention).
  • robinthakur - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    Fine. One example is Chrome on my Nexus 7 running JB, scrolling is not at 60fps. On iOS it is. Having said that, on iOS6 the App store has gotten slightly laggy to scroll down slowly, though if you scroll and let go, it goes back to being smooth, which is a little odd.
  • tuxRoller - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    I'm not sure why you are giving me this example. I never said that android never lags. I was asking the above poster what parts of the drawing pipeline he thinks ios accelerates that android doesn't.
    Since you mentioned this, however, let me ask: does chrome always lag when scrolling? Does it lag when the page is being assembled and drawn, or afterwards as well? Does it depend on page content (do text pages lag as much as media heavy pages)? Does it lag mostly when memory is low or does that not matter? That is, try restarting the tablet, then open only chrome, and then only open a single tab to a relatively simple page.
    If it lags regardless then chrome has an issue. If that is the case, try downloading firefox (i stay on the nightlies since they've been so stable), or opera. If those lag regardless of circumstance as well, then either android is doing something wrong or you have problem with your tablet (either mechanical or software issues due to mechanical issues).
  • Mohjoe - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    Apple created OpenCL (Open Computing Language) that is specifically designed to shift general purpose work away from the CPU and onto the GPU in order to take advantage of its power. Using C/Objective-C, you can get the GPU to do tasks that were normally done by the CPU, such as calculating scroll rates in user windows based on touch inputs. GPUs are not solely used for 3D gaming. Apple uses OpenCL to get the GPUs to accelerate every aspect of the UI, hence a more than 2 year old iPhone 4 running iOS 6 is smoother than any equivalent Android device of the same era (that I know of and have seen testing of).

    Since Apple is the only manufacturer that designs both the hardware (right down to the SoC) and writes its own OS completely, it designs both in tandem. That's a major advantage over all the competition when it comes to performance and this article merely demonstrates that.

    And as for maps, I've been using it for a few days now in Sydney, Australia and the only issue I have seen is that some of the restaurant data it is getting from Yelp is not up to date. I plan on using Yelp to update my favourite restaurants now on the map. Otherwise, I really like both the look and the smoothness of operation. Also, it has a big feature that the previous maps lacked, turn by turn (although we in Aus don't get this turned on till next month). So even if it has bugs, its a feature that wasn't present previously.
  • tuxRoller - Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - link

    Was that advertisement a response to me?
  • SanX - Saturday, September 22, 2012 - link

    Get out with your agenda, moron
  • SanX - Saturday, September 22, 2012 - link

    That was slipped from thread respond to TareX who inflated Maps issue
  • Obsoleet - Saturday, September 22, 2012 - link

    Wait, spec whores on the Android side are spec whores till... now? Now it's all about the apps! Something iOS has in spades, unquestionably the champ. I use a terrible phone (Android HTC Tbolt) and am replacing it with the iPhone5. I'd rather have a solid QA'd, engineered phone that's fast and has great apps than whatever it is Android is trying to sell itself on (specs? Maps? hit and miss phones?).
  • cserwin - Saturday, September 22, 2012 - link

    This. So much this.

    LG G2X good bye. I tried to like the Android echosystem, but fragmentation and support is just pathetic. It, like the Tbold, was a *freaking Flagship device* 1 year ago, and have been essentially 'off support' for their eintire product life.

    The HTC "ONE" and Galaxy SIII don't even use the same processors/gpu/memory from carrier to carrier from what I can tell.

    How the hell can you even tell what you're buying? How much research should you have to do to buy a flagship product and expect it to work for the duration of your contract?

    I bought the G2X on the basis of a ton of research for a consumer purchase, including very favorable reviews on this site - and I believe Anandtech is hands-down the best technical review site on the planet.

    But there are too many variable that go into a phone purchase that go beyond the specs and hardware. I have learned the hard way that manufacturer support, carrier support, and the carrier-manufacturer partnership are AS IMPORTANT AS THE HARDWARE in picking a phone that will have value for the term of the contract.

    And if it's an Android, very close behing the manufacturer of the phone itself, you have to evaluate the relationship of the component manufacturers to the open source community. NVIDIA - fuck you.

    Because if you think 'community support' somehow makes the carrier-manufacturer relationship irrevelant, you beter think again. Open source developers can only hack without drivers, and when it gets hard, they lose interest, sell their phones on craigslist, and develop for other platforms.

    Couple that with the frequent releace cycle of Andrioid, and it's really screwed. Because the community gets ICS support 60% complete for the G2X, well here comes Jelly Bean. And the 3 guys that still had interest? They say 'screw it' and go get a Nexus.

    We need review sites to do a better job grading manufactures, carriers, and component suppliers with respect to smart phones... because those things matter as much as the hardware.

    And from what I see, Apple benchmarks so far ahead of the rest of the industry on those measures, it isn't even funny.

    That Optimus G hardware looks compelling? Run screaming from the building. Because you will never, ever be supported on that phone.

    TL;DR: Andriod is a fragmented mess. The review community must look beyond hardware and software. Fuck NVIDIA.
  • robinthakur - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    Wow, it's actually rare that I find someone who experienced the same problems with Android that I did with the Galaxy 3. I think they would seem really good if you've only ever used Android, but compared to the very mature iOS with its App library and the more polished iTunes, I would take an iPhone any day.

    LG are known to be pretty bad for support generally, but then you only usually find this out after you buy it, and by then a new version of Android has come out that can't easily upgraded to, your phone is no longer the top of the benchmarks. Android phones seem to depreciate like crazy compared to iPhones too, which I found rather alarming. I think the support which you are effectively paying for through the higher cost of the iPhone plus the fully QA'd software like iTunes and iOS is worth paying for, especially if you are tied to a 2 year contract. Hope you are happy with your choice.

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