CPU Performance: Moorestown Rocks?

In my iPad review I pointed out the huge gap between the performance of today’s 1GHz smartphone SoCs and an Atom powered netbook.

It’s impossible to estimate the performance of Moorestown without functional hardware, but we can assume that it’s somewhere in between the ARM based SoCs and the netbook in the chart below.

Intel provided some SPECint numbers comparing Moorestown to various smartphone application processors shipping in 2010 (either now or later). Keep in mind that SPECint is just as much of a compiler benchmark as it is a hardware benchmark, so real world performance could very well differ. We won’t know how well Moorestown stacks up until we can evaluate it ourselves. But if Intel’s numbers are even remotely accurate, this is the sort of leap in performance we honestly need in the smartphone space:

The slowest member of the Atom Z600 series will run at 1.2GHz, the fastest (for smartphones) will run at 1.5GHz. While multithreaded performance on a dual Cortex A9 at 1GHz approaches that of a 1.2GHz Moorestown, nothing can touch the 1.5GHz part. Single threaded performance is just as impressive.

The Sunspider score is super impressive as well. Intel is posting a sub-2s Sunspider score, the best we've seen thus far on a ARM based platform is ~10 seconds on the iPad:

These numbers are from Intel so we have to take them with a grain of salt. And as I already mentioned, we’re looking at pure CPU/compiler performance here - real world application performance is a different story entirely. But it’s a safe bet to assume that Moorestown will at least be faster than any application processor on the market today.

A high clocked dual Cortex A9 could give it a healthy challenge though.

GPU Performance: Moorestown Rules?

Intel provided three numbers to instill confidence in Moorestown’s graphics capabilities. The first was a claim of over 100 fps running Quake 3. I saw this in person so I can confirm that you can actually run a timedemo of Quake 3 at above 100 fps on Moorestown. NVIDIA claims over 40 fps on the Tegra 2 at 720p with AA, but it’s unclear how comparable these numbers are.

The next two numbers are from 3DMark Mobile ES 2.0 using the Taiji and Hoverjet benchmarks:

This is comparing the performance of Moorestown to the lower clocked SGX 535 among other GPUs. The performance improvement is more than 2x.

Again, these came from Intel directly so we can’t vouch for their applicability to the real world.

The Intel GMA 600 by Imagination Technologies Availability and Medfield
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  • DanNeely - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    I think you're misunderstanding the slide. It's not saying 1024x600 to 1366x768, it's saying upto 1366x768 on interface A, upto 1024x600 on interface B. Reply
  • Mike1111 - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    Thanks for the clarification. Looks like I really misunderstood this sentence:
    "Lincroft only supports two display interfaces: 1024 x 600 over MIPI (lower power display interface) or 1366 x 768 over LVDS (for tablets/smartbooks/netbooks)."
    Reply
  • uibo - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    I wonder how many transistors are there in a Cortex A9 core? Just the core nothing else.
    For me it seems that ARM could just double or quadruple their core count against the Intel solution while still maintaining lower transistor count.
    Also they could just increase the CPU clock speed, if there is a market for the more power-hungry Intel solution the there is one for the ARM also.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    I would imagine even less smartphone software is written for multi-core now than was for desktop when dual-core CPUs started appearing in desktops. So going beyond 2 cores at this time is probably not a great move. Plus the dual core A9 isn't out to see power consumption yet, but even at 45nm I doubt it will be much below the current 65nm single-core chips if at all, so if Intel is already competitive then ARM doesn't exactly have the power budget to add cores. Reply
  • uibo - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    That actually makes sense. Nobody is going to write multi-threaded apps for a single thread CPU. I'd imagine that the number of apps, which experience is hindered by performance, is not that great at the moment. Games, browsers, UI, database for the info stored in your device - I'm not expecting these to scale perfectly across many cores but do expect a x0% performance increase. Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, May 06, 2010 - link

    The real benefit for the 2nd core is probably multi-tasking. Your streaming music app can run in the background on the second core while your browser still has a full core to render web pages. Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    Mooresetown has to support a desktop OS. Intel is clearly moving towards wireless computing. They are bringing wireless video. With wireless video you can turn your phone into a desktop pc instantly by adding a wireless monitor and keyboard. What is the point of moving in that direction if you're moving towards a crippled OS? (Not that windows isnt crippled, if you consider obesity a form of cripple.)

    If it needs a pci bus, then emulate one!
    Reply
  • Caddish - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    Just registered to say keep up the good work. Since the SSD antology I have red all of your article like that one and they are awesome Reply
  • legoman666 - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    Excellent article, very well written. Reply
  • jasperjones - Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - link

    Anand,

    You mention twice in the article that Apple and Google dominate the smartphone market. This is utter nonsense. The numbers from IDC as well as the numbers from Canalys clearly show that Nokia is the worldwide leader in the smartphone market. RIM is number 2. Apple is in the third place, the first company that produces Android devices, HTC, has the number 4 spot.

    I realize that Nokia's market share in the U.S. is smaller than its global market share. However, even if we restrict ourselves to the U.S. market, RIM smartphone sales are bigger than those of Apple. They are also bigger than the sales of all Android smartphones combined.
    Reply

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