Archos has backed off the "World's Fastest" claims of the marketing for the G9 Turbos for this campaign. If they'd made the claim again there’d be some evidence to suggest it wouldn’t be too far afield. We may not have had high hopes for the OMAP 4470 as a performance part, seeing it more as a place holder for Windows RT until an OMAP 5 part was ready, but it turns out it can be a bit of a scorcher.

At this point, we’ve covered OMAP 4 for what seems like an absurdly long time. Indeed, it’s been over a year since Brian published this, an architectural overview of the OMAP 4470 we’re looking at today. TI has long been a proponent of the idea of nestling a low-power core alongside a more powerful core, and we’ve actually seen this throughout the OMAP 4 series. Alongside each ARM Cortex-A9 core is a Cortex-M3 core, which provides a site for certain low level code to be processed without loading the A9s. TI sees this as a power savings opportunity. In OMAP 4470 they took this same idea and applied it to their GPU. Included alongside the SGX544 (a significant upgrade over the SGX540 that preceded it) is what they’ve dubbed their Composition GPU (CGPU). As the name implies, this lower power hardware is devoted to 2D composition, allowing the GPU to remain mostly idle when, say, you’re flipping through home screens. Here TI’s not just claiming a power savings, but also touting the ability of the CGPU to perform certain 2D operations faster than the GPU, netting a performance gain. 

Archos has worked to tweak their Android build to perform as well as they could, and have leveraged all that TI’s silicon has to offer. Has all that hard work paid off?

SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark 0.9.1

Rightware BrowserMark

Browser performance is chart topping, beating both the new iPad and the lot of Tegra 3-equipped Transformers. I’ve always been a bit frustrated with browser performance test, their results on similar hardware have such a tendency to vary as to make me believe the results are contrived by the OEM. But that’s typically when a device bests the rest in a single benchmark, while it languishes in the other. That doesn’t seem to be the case here.

But what about that GPU? Let’s take a look at a chart so old, I can hardly bear it. 

Mobile SoC GPU Comparison
  Adreno 225 PowerVR SGX 540 PowerVR SGX 544 PowerVR SGX 543MP2 Mali-400 MP4 GeForce ULP Kal-El GeForce
SIMD Name - USSE USSE2 USSE2 Core Core Core
# of SIMDs 8 4 4 8 4 + 1 8 12
MADs per SIMD 4 2 4 4 4 / 2 1 1
Total MADs 32 8 16 32 18 8 12

The SGX544 is effectively half of the GPU we saw in the iPad 2, the only difference between the SGX543 and 544 being Direct X designations. GPU clocks in the iPad 2 were far more conservative, though, than the 384 MHz we see in OMAP 4470. When Brian looked over TI’s claims he found some rationale for their claim that their SGX544 performance would be 2.5x the SGX540 it replaces. As it turns out, that’s almost exactly the case in some of our tests.

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Egypt HD

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Egypt HD (Offscreen 1080p)

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Egypt Classic

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Egypt Classic (Offscreen 1080p)

BaseMark ES2.0 - Taiji (1024 x 768)

BaseMark ES2.0 - Hover (1024 x 768)

Where the G9s weren’t able to rise above the pack in some of our tougher GPU tests, the XS stays firmly planted at or near the top of all of our GPU tests. And despite being a single core to the iPad 2’s dual core GPU the ~12.3 GFLOPS bestowed on this SGX544 keeps it competitive with the iPad 2, particularly in the off-screen tests. 

When Apple debuted the A5 they set the mold for future mobile SoCs, where a big GPU, complimented by hardware accelerated UI composition, would be integral to a great user experience. Samsung seemed to have picked up on this idea, packing the impressive Mali-400 MP4 into its Exynos 4xxx offerings. Qualcomm and TI have been a little later to this game, ramping up clockspeeds and doing some minor architectural tweaks to eke out as much performance as they could out of their last gen GPU architectures, Adreno 2xx and SGX54x, respectively. The good news is that each has been able to get quite a lot out of these older parts; the bad news is that a lot more power is right around the corner. So while the XS GPU performance is chart topping, that status is likely to be short-lived. But does it really matter?

Within the PC space the Atom and Core 2 era of processors defined a ‘good enough’ standard that persists somewhat to this day. While there are certainly performance and feature gains in a modern Core i5 to justify upgrading from a Core 2 era CPU, for the vast majority of users, a decent Core 2 will be enough; and some may even do fine with an Atom based system. We seem to be reaching this inflection point in the tablet space. The real world difference between two given Android devices has more to do with the software than the actual hardware inside. If you don’t believe me, go find an International SGS III variant, with Samsung’s cutting edge and stonking Exnos 4 Quad inside, and compare it alongside a Galaxy Nexus running Jelly Bean. The latest edition of Android pushes the relatively modestly powered Nexus well past the quad-core SGS III where it matters most, smooth UI performance. And while the beefier GPU and extra cores may help the Exynos 4 Quad when resolutions climb past 720p, it’s memory bandwidth that’s the real bottle neck there today, so the advantage won’t be fully realized until Android sees a SoC that focuses on that issue, a la Apple’s A5X. 

What Archos has done is, I believe, set the bar past ‘good enough,’ and planted it firmly in the performance realm. Truth be told, we weren’t expecting much from the OMAP 4470; it just felt antiquated by technology standards. But solid hardware and a focused approach in software to draw out as much performance as the silicon would allow has very nearly won the 101 XS the title of World's Fastest. It's certainly far in excess of our expectations. 

Display and Accessories Software and Battery Life
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  • Squidward - Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - link

    It's not polite to channel the spirit of Steve Jobs.
  • rarson - Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - link

  • JasonInofuentes - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    I'm not a fanboy. I'm an enthusiast. And not an Archos enthusiast (I've never owned one of their products), I'm a technology enthusiast. All of your bloviations aside, the Archos team has done an excellent job with resources that are, most likely, an order of magnitude smaller than Samsung or ASUS.
    This isn't the best tablet, and it isn't the worst. And that refrain is spoken about nearly every tablet that crosses our bench. Why aren't we awash with tablet reviews, despite nearly every CE OEM having a full stable of them? Because they mostly fall in the same category: middling. Archos merits more attention precisely because they've done as much, if not more, than their larger competitors.
  • swaaye - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    The Archos G9 tablet user reviews consist of stories of defects and misrepresentations. It's scary.

    This new tablet is $400, just like the Samsungs and ASUSs. Hopefully the performance and quality is there for that.
  • jjj - Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - link

    Cherrypicking 2 non-GPU benchmarks where it gets stelar results?
    You guys are just losing credibility and that's all you got to lose.
  • geddarkstorm - Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - link

    Say what? I see Egypt HD, Egypt Classic, Taiji and Hover benchmarks there; all testing the GPU. Egypt HD is especially hard on GPUs. I'm not sure what you're complaining about.
  • kyuu - Wednesday, August 22, 2012 - link

    I think he's referring to the Sunspider and Browsermark benchmarks, which for some reason he confusingly called "non-GPU benchmarks".

    However, I'm not sure what other "non-GPU benchmarks" he's expecting to get covered, or what evidence he has that it scores poorly in other benchmarks.
  • JasonInofuentes - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Benchmarking is one of the most challenging aspects of working in the mobile space right now. We value those benchmarks that provide useful data, not just another number. Other sites have a strong affinity for benchmarks whose numbers fluctuate wildly and whose value is often limited by tests that have hit a theoretical cap (particularly Vsync caps). Some benchmarks provide a useful data point in the event that performance deviates from our expectations, but otherwise fall perfectly within our expectations.
    The point is, if I had included all of the performance data that I collected, you would still be no more informed than you are now. Thanks for reading. Cheers.

  • americorloliveira - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    I think it's time to review the scores of the Asus Transformer Infinity because of my constantly give me around 1300 ms on SunSpider and gives over 160,000 in Browsermark, I dont know if it was a firmware update but the values ​​are very different from those in your table. Maybe when you do a review of the Galaxy Note 10.1 also can review the Infinity.
  • Spunjji - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    Did you read the article?


    Thought not.

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