Apple A5X compared to desktop CPUs

Discussion in 'iPad' started by Sven11, May 18, 2012.

  1. Sven11 Suspended

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    #1
    How fast is the Apple A5X compared to desktop CPUs? I would say it is much slower than every Intel Core processor, but how about a 1GHz PowerPC G4 or Pentium III? Dual Core 1GHz doesn't say much about its performance...
     
  2. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #2
    Going by Geekbench scores, the iPad 3 is roughly as fast as a 1.42/1.5Ghz G4.
     
  3. r-sparks macrumors 6502

    r-sparks

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    #3
    They're incomparable. It's like comparing a BMW Mini to a Ferrari. Both are fine cars and good at what they're designed for, but to ask which is faster is unfair because the Ferrari is built to be fast while the Mini isn't.

    Do a Google search for something like "ARM vs Intel performance". Lots of articles have been written about this. This is why ARM chips aren't found on the desktop. When power isn't that big an issue, Intel (or actually x86) wins each time. However, Arm chips will get to the desktop within about five years. Apple may well be one of the first to do so in the Air series. Battery life will then be in the order of 10-20 hours.
     
  4. bjm2660 macrumors 6502

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    #4
    I hope you're right. I want to see this brighter future.
     
  5. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #5
    What is it about ARM processors that shines brighter than Intel processors?
     
  6. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #6
    They are a RISC CPU like the PowerPC CPU's and they are very effienct when it comes to power requirements.
     
  7. r-sparks macrumors 6502

    r-sparks

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    #7
    Well all modern chips are RISC inside. It's just that Intel and Amd chips have a built-in translation layer to convert x86 instructions into RISC code. Wasn't Itanium Intel's attempt at pure RISC? And that obviously bombed badly.

    The key thing about ARM chips if I recall is that they have various ultra low powers saving modes so can go into standby mode and still do stuff like communicate with cellphone towers yet only use milliwatts of power. ARM have a major lead in this technology compared to Intel and probably enough patents to keep Intel at its heels.

    Intel have recently hit back with a new x86 chip which, in practice, is almost as efficient as ARM chips. I forget the name of the chip but it was reviewed on Anandtech and you can probably google for it.
     
  8. bjm2660 macrumors 6502

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    #8
    I'm not interested in the processors; I'm interested in the battery life.
     
  9. astral125 macrumors 6502

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    #9
    Well you need one for the other.
     
  10. Hyper-X macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    The A5X is not on par with even the basic desktop CPU available today. Even if it was how they're used are different.

    For example on a desktop CPU, you could run a SETI client and keep the CPU running at 100%, on a mobile CPU like the A5X (Tegra, etc.) your mobile device won't last long (nor will your battery appreciate it).
     
  11. bjm2660 macrumors 6502

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    #11
    You're right. I felt silly even typing that.
     
  12. ScottishDuck macrumors 6502a

    ScottishDuck

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    #12
    Embedded operating systems are what make tablets and phones seem fast. They are built for the specific processor in mind and will likely forgo many of the libraries and applications commonly found in more generic OS builds.

    The reality is that a desktop ARM systems would be slow when it has to run a generically optimised operating system. Which is why it could be (worryingly) likely that desktop ARM systems are locked down, highly proprietary systems.
     
  13. spammerhamster macrumors 6502

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    #13
    If i compare the power of the iPad with that of pc, on a subject which is the same for both -video decoding-, then the iPad 3 is comparable a pentium 4 but faster a dual core atom.

    I'm watching rmvb-video on the iPad. Sd is no problem, hd 1280x720 still runs smoothly, but it has some slowdowns on fast scenes.
    (I'm using oplayer hd to play, so there is no decoding offloading)

    In comparison, my old celeron 1,8ghz and atom d525 1.8ghz dualcore can't run hd-rmvb at all. It'd be a slideshow.
    My old pentium 4 (2,4ghz) if I recall correctly, just barely managed hd-rmvb. The iPad runs smoother.

    (an iPad1 is comparable to an atom/celeron btw)
     
  14. r-sparks macrumors 6502

    r-sparks

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    #14
    This is a great point to make and there's a lot of possible responses.

    For example, there was once a belief that open ecosystems for hardware and software were healthy and indeed necessary, because that's what created the PC revolution and the Internet. But there's been a lot of examples where such systems have fallen flat on their faces, especially in the embedded field. Take the opening up of Symbian, for example, which utterly failed to get traction. Then there was Maemo, which was supposed to save Nokia, but turned into a massive white elephant. Opening up a software system isn't a magic wand.

    Taking a locked down approach seems to work better. Apple does it, for example, and even Google Android is far from an open source project in spirit. Google engineers do their stuff in secret and then release the source when they have to, usually when a binary release of a point uograde is made public. And sometimes not even then. aren't we still waiting for the source of the latest Android release?

    I agree that Apple on ARM desktop will probably be locked down but that's down to anal retentiveness at Infinite Loop, rather than a general trend. OS X is open because it had to be, and we all forget how dire it was at Apple back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Jobs himself said that if there's no longer any space to innovate then you must follow, which is what OS X did at that point in time. OPen source was the fashion.
     
  15. blow45 macrumors 68000

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    #15
    Great post. :)
     
  16. bishopdante macrumors newbie

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    #16
    I think there could well be a future for apple moving the whole platform to ARM, desktop and all.

    Of course, moving hardware platform isn't easy unless you have designed that facility into your development tools. That's what's really cool about the NeXT technology that OSX is built on.

    I can certainly feel the difference between the G5 and G4's RISC compared to Intel's branch predicting pipeline of chaos. Intel chips seem to stall and mush compared to true RISC's fluid snappiness.

    The reason why apple ditched PowerPC was because of the issues of portability. There's no way you were getting IBM power into something like a big laptop, let alone a phone or iPad. The thermal and power consumption profile was all wrong, the IBM designed Power CPUs are the size of laptops and require cooling systems the size of PCs. It was a challenge to get the G5 into a box the size of a suitcase.

    However, the potential for ARM laptops and even desktops is there. I am thinking more and more that iOS and ARM are Apple's long term future goals. Especially considering Apple saved ARM back in the Acorn days, most lucrative investment Steve Jobs ever made.
     
  17. bishopdante macrumors newbie

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    #17
    Goodness me that's an annoying comment.

    In actual fact... the computer industry spent the 70s and 80s closed. For profit, chiefly by Bell Labs. You weren't allowed to do anything with the system. UNIX was not allowed to be ported.

    So, a bunch of people at Berklee hijacked the source code, and took to illegally porting it to other, smaller, more affordable platforms. These guys believed that computing was a universal good which should be available to everybody, not just banks and the military.

    AT&T Bell Labs pursued these guys as though they were thieves, and some of them went on the run chased by the FBI across the USA. The original hackers really believed that the architecture of a computing system would be subject to severe dysfunction and abuse if people were not allowed in, or allowed to know how it works. It would severely restrict the possibilities.

    The story goes back earlier... to the 70s. When Bell Labs poached and brain drained the Cambridge University computing department, along with the guy who developed C++, it was those guys that specified UNICS.

    At Cambridge, they weren't particularly well paid, and their work wasn't patented. It was publicly available to the academic and commercial community as a public good. Once their work was carried over to Bell, it became entombed in legal protectionism. This is the AT&T that refused to let people use their phone lines for modems, or plug a 3rd party phone into the wall socket, that was broken up for monopolies and antitrust.

    Open Source is not the Free Software movement. I have noticed that when proprietary and non-technical commercial shareholder forces get involved, the whole system becomes very corrupt and user unfriendly. You can look at Adobe, or Microsoft, or Apple's iPad/iPhone app store behaviour. It leads to rent seeking behaviour. With a publicly traded company, a closed system attracts Private Equity firms. Blackstone are currently LBO'd into apple, and it doesn't bode well for the future. Marketing departments don't design good computers.

    Software is a language, it should be mutual to its users, and it should be possible for anybody to contribute.

    The failure of the Open Source software movement is simple. Our current economic systems don't support programmers writing complex systems and being able to eat.

    That is... unless they're university staff. Most of the good open source or free software work, eg: BSD, has been undertaken and delivered by universities. At the moment we have a huge brain drain out of higher education and academic research, into walled multi-billion-dollar guilds called giant technology companies. The problem is, a company's job is to make money for the shareholders, not to conduct research, to make mistakes and learn from them.

    Knowledge, and knowledge systems should *not* be commercial monopolies. The university system has become a training camp for industry paid for on loans at the future worker's expense, rather than a federal organisation of researchers for the common benefit of all humanity and the advancement of knowledge.
     
  18. BFizzzle macrumors 68020

    BFizzzle

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    #18
    my god thank you. i was pulling my hair out reading r-sparks post.
     
  19. lannisters4life macrumors 6502

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    #19
    I appreciate this level of cynicism, but I don't think that a company's mandate to make money excludes extensive research from taking place. Apple's enormous value helps fuel its R&D, and then the 2% of that research, tied with the value of the Apple brand, goes and finds its way into stores which perpetuate the company's growing wealth. I can see tonnes of choices they've made on grounds of cost, but I also have a little schoolboy naiveté that says they make other choices that are technological and aesthetic, and the products we get are the best compromise between the two forces.

    Back to the topic, I think the A5X is impressive when sitting next to a new retina Macbook Pro. The iPad's screen is powered so well and smoothly, I think because the A5X is having to handle such a limited number of bespoke actions, whereas the rMBP struggles with its screen, even with a much more powerful set of hardware. It makes me wonder for the future, whatever comes post-OS X, that it'll be built for similarly propriety hardware.
     
  20. gladoscc macrumors 6502

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    #20
    I'm find the unix thing pretty interesting - do you have any articles that I could read to find out more?
     
  21. BFizzzle macrumors 68020

    BFizzzle

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    #21
  22. gladoscc macrumors 6502

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    #22
  23. scaredpoet macrumors 604

    scaredpoet

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    #23
    http://www.cups.org/
    http://www.webkit.org/
    http://www.apple.com/support/bonjour/

    Not Apple, but...
    http://www.canonical.com/about-ubuntu

    Going back to topic: it should be pointed out that there are truly free and open source OSes that are not locked down and fully support ARM architectures, Ubuntu being among them.

    http://www.ubuntu.com/download/arm

    The future of ARM based computing does NOT need to be solely locked down, walled garden approaches.
     
  24. barjam macrumors 6502

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    #24
    Intel has never had a reason to compete in the low power space. Now they do. I suspect in 5 years all mobile devices will be running low power x86 and arm will be a secondary low end player.
     
  25. old-wiz macrumors G3

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    #25
    Before I retired, we had a chart in the hallway showing the evolution of "Unix"...it was wildly contorted, going all the way back to Multics, then Unix (which was a play on "Multics" (multiple) to Uni (one) ix (sound like tics). The chart included so many variants that trying to follow the evolution gave me a headache. There were systems like PrimOS, VOS, Ultrix, and I can't remember how many others.
     

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