Jun 04 AT 1:55 AM Taylor Wimberly 40 Comments

Small displays produce big results in GPU benchmarks

Update: As reader Chris wisely points out, the Slide is running a lower resolution (HVGA vs WVGA) so the benchmarks should be pushing less pixels. This explains why the slower phone is able to produce more frames per second.

Welcome to another episode in blog journalism where we provide the questions and you provide the  answers. We came across some interesting news tonight and I have no way of explaining it so I come to our loyal readers with the evidence and maybe you can help me solve this case.

Earlier tonight, I was filming some GPU benchmarks with all our high-end Android phones and I planned on making an extensive post tomorrow. I tweeted a link to the video so others could have a sneak peek before the post went up.

Almost immediately, I received a tip that the someone with the myTouch 3G Slide was reporting higher scores in every GPU benchmark. I don’t have a Slide on hand, so I had the guy perform 4-5 tests and he sent me over all the results. Surprisingly, the Slide outpaced much faster phones like the Droid, EVO, Incredible, and a Nexus One that had Android 2.2 installed.

So what kind of GPU is included with that Slide? This is where the picture gets a little fuzzy. The Slide features the 600 MHz Qualcomm MSM7227 (ARM11 based) which is geared towards mass-market smartphones and not the high-end. Qualcomm’s official press release gives little details on the GPU and only mentions it has “hardware-accelerated 3D graphics”.

Using a system information tool, we were able to determine that the Slide is using an Adreno GPU, which some of you know is also included in the much faster 1 GHz Snapdragon.

I know from my earlier testing that the Droid has the fastest GPU (200 110 MHz PowerVR SGX 530) and it outperformed the Nexus One’s Adreno GPU (even though the Nexus had the advantage of Android 2.2).

If the Slide and all other Snapdragon phones use a similar Adreno GPU, then how is it possible for the Slide to outperform all others when the CPU runs at 600 MHz and the firmware is still Android 2.1? Believe it or not, the Slide is scoring nearly 2x in some taxing benchmarks like GLBenchmark and NeneMark1.

Surely, there is some reasonable explanation for this. From what I know, the Slide GPU should be last when compared to the other high-end phones, but it actually comes up first. Expect a full report later today when we dig a little deeper.

Benchmark results from myTouch 3G Slide

I’m only listing the results for the myTouch 3G Slide and posting the screen caps as evidence. For full benchmark scores on all devices, look for our detailed post tomorrow.

Know of any other GPU benchmarks for Android? Share the links and we will be glad to test them out and post our results.

[Thank you Andrew for the tip]

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • http://Website Andrew Gomez (the tipster)

    I think it’s because the MyTouch 3G Slide is a beastly phone! Just sayin’….

    • http://NA Chris Smith

      I think the phone is alright but can’t go wrong with tmobile even if you are on simply mobile!!! :-P

  • http://Website Jose

    So maybe you have to change this “The myTouch 3G Slide does not offer a significant performance boost and higher-powered devices” from here -> http://androidandme.com/2010/05/news/mytouch-3g-slide-launches-june-2nd-for-179-original-goes-free/ ;)

  • http://Website MikeyDroid

    Because it has a physical keyboard, duh.


  • http://Website Chris

    I’d imagine it’s similar to the PC gaming scene. Higher res = lower frames. The MT3GS is pushing 153,600 pixels at 480×320. All the other phones mentioned are pushing 384,000 pixels at 480×800. That’s quite a big difference.

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      That sounds the most likely. All of the benchmarks do not let you set the resolution and I have no way of monitoring it, but I would assume they run whatever the native one is.

      • Weeds

        Yeah Chris is correct, if you measure GPU performance display resolution matters.

        I haven’t seen these benchmarks yet, but the only thing the CPU does is sending vertex data to the GPU and (depending on application) it may cull invisible objects before doing that.
        So there isn’t that much space for the JIT to help here.

        Another point may be texture resolution. I don’t know how this is implemented in these benchmarks but if you load a image through the android resource system it will be scaled up for high density devices, therefore the texture will be much larger and therefore consumes more bandwidth on the memory bus when texture switches occur.

        Would be interesting to create a benchmark app with a HVGA GL Surface and check the results on that.

      • http://Website Gene R.

        Correct, the slide GPU is pushing fewer pixels than the Nexus One or Droid; however, the end result will be that the user will notice a 2x Graphics performance boost on the MyTouch 3g Slide vs the Droid, Incredible or Nexus One.

        Not bad for a mid-range phone… =)

  • http://Screenresolution Jon

    Seems to me that all the other high-end phones you’re testing against have WVGA screens – the Slide has an HVGA screen…

    So the high-end phones are pushing 2.5x more pixels per frame.

  • http://Website matt

    I suspect that HTC might have updated some opengl drivers on the slide, that unlock the full capabilities of the adreno gpu, which hopefully will mean a speed boost to all snapdragon processors.

  • http://Website Austin

    Hey now, I was considering the Nexus or the MTS, and I think the My Touch Slide just won!

  • http://Website Sergio

    Taylor can you ask Andrew to test some HQ games such as: Nova, Asphalt5, etc? And also post a video about this.

    Also your statement “tops all other Android phones in GPU benchmarks” is not correct. What about Samsung Galaxy S?
    55.7FPS @ NeoCore

  • http://Website Djone

    There’s no mistery. As someone pointed out its about resolution of the screen.
    BTW “Adreno” is anagram from “Radeon” – Qualcomm acquired ATI’s mobile business from AMD, after AMD acquired ATI.

    • mikedminor

      So I guess we should expect the forthcoming Tegra 2 chips to out pace the Adrino on video!

      • http://Website Djone

        Tegra 2 will never show up on phones! It’s simply inadequate.
        Tegra 2 is two application cores + GPU, and Snapdragon from Qualcomm, or Hummingbird from Samsung are full featured SoC (system-on-chip) that have all you need for a phone to work.

        Additional chips = higher costs = no Tegra 2 in Smartphones

        upcoming Qualcomm’s Snapdragon upgrade – QSD8x50Aâ„¢ brings higher frequencies (up to 1.3GHz, and more optimizations including the graphics).

        It’ll first come in HTC Wimo 7 phones, but next year Androids will feature this new and improved Snapdragon!

        Dual-Core ARM based chips (including Tegra) will find their place only in tablets and smartbooks

        • http://Website Sergio

          Can you trust Qualcomm anymore after all of these? I don’t. TI OMAP/Hummingbird all the way. Way better GPU and better CPU.

          .. but HTC will continue to use qualcomm soc because they are cheaper so this means for them MORE PROFIT. Luckily there are more companies to chose from, and strangely even if they are less expensive have better hardware.

          • http://Website Helmore

            Get your facts straight. Here I’ll help you on the pricing details by comparing the BOM of the Droid and the Nexus One:
            Droid: http://www.isuppli.com/News/Pages/iSuppli-Does-Droid-Teardown-Finds-$18775-Bill-of-Materials-and-Manufacturing-Cost.aspx
            Nexus One: http://www.isuppli.com/News/Pages/Google-Nexus-One-Carries-$17415-Materials-Cost-iSuppli-Teardown-Reveals.aspx

            The Nexus One has a Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8250 baseband processor and application processor on a single package with a cost of $30.50 dollar. You then have to add a radio frequency transceiver, also made by Qualcomm, of $2.50 to the price to make the comparison easier with the Droid.

            The Droid has a TI OMAP3 application processor with a price of $12.90 along with a Qualcomm baseband processor and radio frequency transceiver in one package with a price of $14.04. These two chips together offer the roughly the same functionality as those 2 chips in the Nexus One. Total price of these chips for the Droid is $26.94 while total price of these chips in the Nexus One is $33.00, although you have to consider that the price of the TI OMAP3 itself is only $12.90. In other words, as separate chips the OMAP3 is a lot cheaper than the Snapdragon, but taken as a whole the Snapdragon chipset is not that much more expensive.

            Another fun fact about this comparison is the fact that the most expensive chip in the Droid is made by Qualcomm. There is also one Texas Instruments chip in the Nexus One, but that ironically enough is also the cheapest chip in the Nexus One.

            Then one more thing about your remark on the CPU and the GPU in Qualcomm’s chipsets. Yes the CPU in this chipset is a lowly ARM11, although with quite a couple of optimizations compared to the ARM11 in their previous MSM7225 chipset as used in the HTC Hero for example. In other words it’s slower than what’s in the OMAP3 or the Hummingbird. The CPU in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon line of chipsets is their own in-house design called the Scorpion CPU. It has much in common with the Cortex-A8, but is in some ways a bit better. You can read a bit more about the Scorpion CPU over in this article: http://insidedsp.com/Articles/tabid/64/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/238/Qualcomm-Reveals-Details-on-Scorpion-Core.aspx
            As they say in that article, the Scorpion CPU is a bit faster than the Cortex-A8 clock for clock and it can run had higher clocks while requiring the same amount of power as a Cortex-A8. The Scorpion CPU’s performance is somewhere between the Cortex-A8 and the Cortex-A9 if you look at clock for clock performance (IPC). This is assuming that the memory system and those kinds of things are both comparable, the benchmarks that InsideDSP uses to compare them fit inside these chips’ L2 cache and will in other words not test the memory subsystem, only the cache system and the CPU core itself.

            As for the GPUs, well I don’t know. I can’t find much information on the GPUs used in Qualcomm’s chipsets. All I know is that they’re based on AMD/ATI Z430 and their faster recently introduced chipsets feature GPUs based on AMD/ATI’s Z460 GPU (there are no phones based on those chipset yet, I believe this GPU is used in the QSD8672 and the MSM8260 and probably more future chipsets). These GPUs have an architecture very similar to what’s inside the X-Box 360, architecturally they are almost the same you could say, just scaled down. It’s just that little in know about their exact configuration and clock speeds and then you have the problem that Qualcomm has thus far not been very good when it comes to drivers. I have to say though that it looks like Qualcomm is steadily improving when it comes to their drivers and I think that the increased performance of the Slide is partially a result of improved drivers. I have to prove to back that up though, it’s just a hunch.

            Sorry about the long post, but I just had to set some facts straight.

        • NPHHaru

          The Tegra2 dev kit sitting here on my desk, work on which is destined for a device who’s details I won’t disclose begs to differ with you! :) And I’d categorize this as something from a rather major player.

          Also, I contend that the Galaxy S will best all comers for GPU, on 2.2, until late 2010. It is extremely annoying Samsung isn’t more forthcoming with release date and details.

          • Dharmabhum

            Sorry no reply link to be found on Helmore’s post, but I just wanted to say good work setting that straight a bit. And also for using iSuppli data… I work there :D Best teardowns in the industry, even before I started with them.

  • Dukez

    I still want a Nexus One

  • mikedminor

    The Droid runs at a slightly higher Res than the other phones! A fact that is often overlooked and somewhat over-SHADOWed by the newer Android based phones.

    Higher Rez = More Pixels to Render and Update = More Flags!….Sorry, just saw a Six Flags commercial and it stuck with me.. ;-P

    2.2 Froyo on the Droid should be nice!

    New Motorola Droid Slogan: Motorola DROID does More, with Less!

    • http://Website Joeskie

      So, naturally my next question would be why verizon our motorola don’t pass that savings on to consumers. bastards

  • http://Website MooQ

    The SGX 530 in the Droid is not clocked at 200MHz. Don´t know where you got this from but I guess it´s from the PowerVR Page and their estimated performance and wattage examples at 200MHz but that doesn´t mean that every Chip from that branch runs at 200MHz.
    As far as I know the SGX 530 in the Droid is clocked at 110MHz. The SGX 535 inside the iPhone 3GS at 150MHz.
    And please seperate the Adreno Graphic Chips from each other. The Phone in the article uses an Adreno 100 which is an OpenGL ES 1.1 Chip that was originally developed by Qualcomm. The Snapdragon uses Adreno 200 which comes from aquired ATi property (Z430) and can do all the OpenGl ES 2.0 stuff. Adreno 200 in every Snapdragon is clocked at 133MHz.
    The Upcoming Snapdragon Processors will feature basically the same OpenGL ES 2.0 Chip (Z460) just with 4 times the performance (higher clock rates and/or hardware units) and could on paper reach the SGX 540.

    Snapdragon = 1 ALU + 1 TMU @ 133MHz
    SGX 530 inside the Droid = 2 ALUs + 1TMU @ 110MHz
    SGX 535 inside the 3GS = 2 ALUs + 2 TMUs @ 150MHz

    SGX 540 has 4 ALUs + 2 TMUs. Same goes for the SGX 543 but this Chip is a reworked SGX an can reach up to 40% increase in performance at the same clock speed and allows multi core configurations for up to 16 parallel SGX 543 cores.
    The SGX 543 is rumored to be in Sonys PSP2 with a 4 Core Configuration and with 4 Cores the performance on paper is around 20% higher than the original X-Box.

    • http://Website Helmore

      I believe the SGX535 in the iPhone 3GS runs at 133 MHz, while that same GPU is also in the iPad but there it runs at 200 MHz. Oh and you’re right about those clockspeeds of the GPU in the OMAP34X0, although I believe that they upped the clockspeed of the GPU their OMAP36X0 (probably used in the Motorola Shadow) to 200 MHz.

      You’re wrong about the GPU in this phone though. The GPU in this phone is the same as what’s used in the Qualcomm QSD8250 AFAIK, the Z430 in other words. Just look up the spec sheet and you’ll see that Qualcomm mentions that it’s OpenGL ES 2.0 compliant.

      Qualcomm has rebranded the Z430 and the Z460 as their Adreno 2XX lineup. I believe that the Adreno 200 is a Z430 at 133 MHz, an Adreno 205 is a Z430 at 200 MHz and the Adreno 210 and 220 are based on the Z460. A for the amount of ALUs, ROPs, TMUs etc, you’re a little off on those as well.
      Adreno 200 = 1 TMU, 1 ROP and 6 ALUs at 133 MHz
      Adreno 205 = 1 TMU, 1 ROP and 6 ALUs at 200 MHz.
      According to: http://www.beyond3d.com/content/news/714

      Regarding the Z460, or Adreno 210 and 220 as Qualcomm like to call them. There it gets a bit harder as the Z460 is rather flexible. You could make a Z460 with 1, 2, 4, or even 8 pipelines, with each pipeline having 1 ROP, 1 TMU and a number of ALUs. The amount of ALUs per pipeline is configurable as well, so you could have 6 per pipeline just like in the Adreno 200 and 205, or even 4 or 8 if you want to. My guess is that the upcoming Qualcomm MSM8260 has a Z460 with 4 pipelines running at 133 MHz, although I’ve no idea how many ALUs it will have per pipeline.

      One thing to keep in mind is that ALUs, TMUs and ROPs are not directly comparable as they can and probably will differ in feature set and actual performance per unit per clock although they do give you some sort of guideline for comparison.

  • http://Website zy

    htc legend scored 30+fps with neocore

  • http://Website Bubbled says

    My friend has this phone and I must the MTS flies,I played with it for an hour,the browser is fast. I going to get one, I really like the expresso ui. IT had no lag at all, every app and game was smooth.

    • http://Website Sergio

      What games have you tested? 2D or low-poly 3D games?

      Try NOVA, Asphalt 5, Modern Warfare, etc.

  • http://Website otherkid

    I figured this was the reason why it was so smooth. Definitely explains why it is so freaking fast. Anyone that hasn’t played with one yet you defintely should see what’s up because they are amazing.

  • http://Website Derek

    This is like a duhhhhhh article. Obviously its the resolution. Play a game on your PC at 1920×1200 and measure your fps, then turn the resolution down to 1024×768. There’s a magical performance boost isnt there??

  • http://Website Chris
  • http://www.cerebralhack.com MrOtsKrad

    This all goes back to my mantra, lastest dont always mean the greatest. Hell, put it in this perspective…any woman would sacrifice an inch for better performance.

    I would much rather something do what its supposed to do and do it with blazing colors, than have something look pretty with all the bells and whistles and hiccup in comparison. Ive played with all the android phones from tmobile thus far, and the slide is by far my fav.

  • keenish27

    It is most likey due to the resolution. Its the same in the PC world. If you have a game and it is running chunky there are two things you can do to speed it up.
    1. Turn down the graphics options
    2. Turn down the resolution

  • http://overclockers.ge NODO-GT

    good article, w8ing for tomorrow!
    Interesting which phone has most GPU power for games :)

    Samsung Galaxy S is a real beast, 55FPS in Neocore with 2.1 Andorid, thanks to SGX 540. just imagine performance with new JIT compiler!

    Android = Mobile Gaming!

  • JackTheMan18

    Are you going to include the Acer Liquid?

  • http://Website Jeff Howard

    The fact of the matter is, the MyTouch 3G Slide has 2-3x faster GPU performance than any currently available superphone (Evo, Droid Incredible, Nexus One).

    I don’t care if the superphones are pushing more pixels, the end result for me (the user) is my MyTouch 3g Slide’s GPU is 2-3x faster than your Droid.

    When I fire up HomerunBattle 3d or Asphalt 3d, if my MyTouch 3g Slide gets a higher FPS than an Nexus One or Incredible, I’d say that’s all that matters.

    • guitarfreak846

      Agreed, sir.

    • http://Website jjl84

      Yeah you’re probably right…I’m gonna set the resolution on my PS3 to 480p max just to give me a better fps. In fact, why stop there? I say give me a phone with one pixel that can be rendered at 1,000,000 fps since that’s all that matters! Sorry, but after playing with my friend’s old G1 tonight, resolution matters.

      • http://Website Greg Jensen

        You are aware that very few, if any, Android games bother using higher resolution textures for phones with a higher resolution display.. Most Android games use 320×480 resolution and let the OS scale up to WVGA resolution of the Droid or Nexus One. Thus, in almost every case, you’re higher resolution screen is doing nothing for you other than slowing you down because you have to push 2x as many pixels for ZERO improvement in resolution.

        Sure, on a PC or Console, you might have the space to store larger textures, but in mobile phones, developers are going to use the lowest common demoninator, and currently for almost every Android game that matters (Homerun Derby 3d, Asphalt, Mystique, and practically every other big name title) that is going to be HVGA resolution (320×480).

  • http://www.kacaudah.com Moses Kilmer

    Hello there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay. I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.