Detailed performance testing of modern tablets, recently conducted by AnandTech, showed a significant superiority of the iPad 2 not only over its predecessor, but also over the more modern Motorola Xoom tablet. In particular, the most significant difference was in the work of the graphics subsystem. The iPad 2 outperformed the Xoom in some tests in terms of graphics processing speed four times! But in this case, it is worth comparing not the tablets themselves, but the small chip installed inside them. This is not a simple chip, but SoC (System-on-a-chip), that is, a system on a chip. In fact, a small computer in a chip. So this same computer from Apple, known as A5turned out to be many times larger than the competitor NVIDIA Tegra 2 — 122 mm² against 49 mm² respectively.
It should be noted that NVIDIA Tegra 2 is quite a powerful and modern solution. Moreover, the structure of the SoC is similar to the A5. Both systems on a chip consist of a 2-core processor ARM Cortex-A9, audio chip and high-performance graphics adapter capable of handling HD video (1080p) and complex 3D graphics. The main difference lies in the graphics core. Apple uses a 2-core video chip PowerVR SGX 543MP2 from Imagination Technologies, and NVIDIA own solution GeForce. A5 is also produced in compliance with the norms of the technological process 45 nmwhile Tegra 2 has a thinner one – 40 nm. This also affects the size of the crystal, but in this case not much.
As a result, it turns out that with the current development of microchip factories and the SoC schemes used, the larger the crystal area, the more powerful the system on a chip will be. But the increased size of the silicon chip also means an increased cost. For example, NVIDIA is selling SoC Tegra 2 at $15-20 per chip, depending on the volume of purchases. That is, in production, this component is even cheaper for the company. Apple pays Samsung for every A5 processor $25. In fact, this is the price of production, since the company’s engineers themselves developed the chip and you do not have to pay for Apple’s intellectual property. There is a significant difference in price as well.
NVIDIA plans to release SoC this year Tegra 3 with 4-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor and improved GeForce graphics core. By analogy, the system on a chip will be larger than its predecessor and will cost more, which in turn means an increase in the cost of devices in which it is used. But, fortunately, technology in this case does not develop quite linearly. The norms of the technical process are gradually decreasing, and this saves money. For example, the latest processors based on the Intel Sandy Bridge architecture, the same ones found in 2011 MacBook Pro models, are manufactured using 32nm technical process. The production of flash memory chips is gradually moving to 25nm technical process. Plus SoC circuits become much more efficient. That is, there will be no linear increase in the cost of future systems on a chip, but size does matter. [Barron’s]
Detailed performance testing of modern tablets, recently conducted by AnandTech, showed a significant superiority of the iPad 2 not only over its predecessor, but also over the more modern Motorola Xoom tablet. In particular, the most significant difference was in the work of the graphics subsystem. In some tests, the iPad 2 outperformed the Xoom in terms of graphics processing speed by up to four times! But in this case it is worth comparing …
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