The time has come, dual-core beasts are slowly trickling in the market. Its just too confusing which on to choose. For an average user, finding the best of the best phones and tablets in the market is hard. So let the DroidGamers help you. Here is a rundown of the current dual-core chipsets currently out.
The heart of these beasts, their chipsets:
1. Tegra 2
It was the first dual-core chipset to the market, backed by nVidia arguably the name most well known for gaming in Industry. They tried to revive their positioning in the mobile market after the failure of Tegra. This chipset is arguably one of the best chips in the market but when it comes to the dual-core chips, this is the weakest one out there both in terms of CPU and GPU. Its sports a dual-core 1Ghz Cortex A9 CPU manufactured by TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company ). This is a fast CPU but isn't the fastest. It is good enough for daily needs but its more battery hungry than any other dual-core CPUs. It lacks important instruction like NEON which makes the CPU perform faster and do more stuff with lesser load.
Just some stuff Neon can do:
Watch any video in any format
Edit and enhance captured videos - video stabilization
Anti-aliased rendering and compositing
Game processing, Speeding up 2D/3D graphics
Process multi-megapixel photos quickly
Powerful multichannel hi-fi audio processing
NEON will give 60-150% performance boost on complex video codecs
Individual simple DSP algorithms can show larger performance boost (4x-8x)
Processor can sleep sooner, resulting in overall dynamic power saving
Skia library used in Android ( for everything 2d from generating thumbnails to 2d graphics rendering) is 5x faster using NEON
Linpack scores are around 36mflops.
Also Multimedia Performance isn't as strong as other Chipsets have. There have been reports of laggy 1080p rendering and recording, not supporting many formats.
GPU is arguably on the weaker side of the dual-core beats. It scores 25 FPS on GL Benchmark Egypt Standard and 57fps on the Pro Standard. Neocore a pretty outdated benchmark scores 76fps and nenamark scores 58 fps. It can render 71million triangles/sec which is a pretty good score.
One thing that makes one craving for Tegra 2 is the Tegra Zone which shows you just nVidia Tegra 2 compatible games which are some awesome games. nVidia has exclusivity on all those games so while chipset isn't that powerful, nVidia's command in gaming and the marketing makes it a worthy buy
2. Qualcomm 8x60 , Snapdragon 3rd Generation
This is the 3rd generation of the insanely successful Qualcomm snapdragon series. It Sports a dual-core 1.5ghz asynchronous Scorpion Chipset and adreno 220 GPU. It has arguably the best CPU and GPU in the dual-cores. The CPU being asynchronous can be a real battery saver. Both the cores can run at different voltages and speed at the same time. So if you are running a single threaded process that is going to use only one of the CPU the second one doesnt need to scale with the first one thus only one of the CPU run at full speed other waiting for its turn to come. It supports all the ARM instructions including NEON and has a 128-bit pipeline rather than 64 bit found in all other CPU thus a better speed. According to Qualcomm it is faster than the CPU found in OMAP4 which till now showing the fastest speed, so we can say it sports one of the best CPUs out there. Linpack Scores are around 48 - 49 mflops . It's a tad slower in native calculations than the competition but native applications are mostly games that rely more on the GPU.
Coming to the GPU, it sports Adreno 220, capable of rendering 88 million triangles/sec which is arguably the highest in any GPU shipping in mobile to date. According to preliminary benchmarks it scores 39 FPS in GLBenchmark Egypt, 93.6fps in GL Benchmark Pro, 80 fps on quake 3. It is approximately 4x faster than Adreno 205 according to 3D Mark benchmarks.
About multimedia, Its one of the best when it comes to multimedia. 1080p @ 30 fps encode/ decode. Supporting a variety of formats. It will play almost anything you throw at it.
Something special with this chipset is the content available for it. Qualcomm is said to be getting exclusivity for many games for their Adreno GPU and seeing the Xperia Play, a gaming phone, ships with Adreno GPU, you won't be disappointed with the games available for all the phones. The GPU is backward compatible with all the Adreno GPU games to date so you don't have to wait for developer to pump out a version specifically for the chipset. It's CPU is one of the best performing. Qualcomm is also known for the stability of chipsets due to the fact that everything is on the chipset itself rather than making manufacturers add it.
This chipset ships in the Samsung Galaxy S II the successor of the most popular android phone to date. The CPU is a 1.2 GHz Dual core synchronous Cortex A9. It is one of the best CPUs to ship to date on par with the Qualcomm 8x60 scoring a 47 in Linpack which a Java CPU benchmark. Only problem here is that cores are synchronous so battery may not be as good as of the Qualcomm 8x60. Rest is all top notch. Its a real performer. It too supports all ARM Instruction but has a 64 bit pipeline. It is faster than QSD8x60 in native calculations.
The GPU that ships here is the Mali-400 which, until now, has created a lot of hype being a quad-core GPU. It is a pretty fast GPU, one of the fastest I must say, but the device shipping with this GPU isn't performing what it should perform. It scores the same in GPU that of the Snapdragon maybe because Samsung disabled some cores. The GL Benchmark Egypt is 39 fps, Pro is 59 fps (probably capped at 60fps) , Nenamark is 60 fps. It's one of the best GPUs out there. Even though it is a great performer, it is plagued by a major issue, it isn't compatible with most Texture Compression formats, so if you're thinking of gaming, it isn't really performing well in that sector. Games from major developers like EA, Gameloft, Trendy Entertainment etc won't work . They would have to update their games and recompile them in a texture compression format supported by Mali- 400 though there are some people working on a intermediate layer to get everything working. It will require root and it wouldn't be fool proof. I highly suspect Samsung can't do anything about the issue as it is hardware and not software.
About multimedia, it is one of the best out there. It can encode/decode 1080p at 30 fps and will play anything you throw at it.
So it is one of the fastest chipset out there but plagued with certain major issues. If you are not a gamer, this is a great chipset. It lacks any support from Samsung, no marketing, no exclusive content, just the normal games. The GPU isn't widespread like the PowerVR or Adreno220 either and doesn't have any gaming backbone like Tegra 2 has. So everything here depends on the sale of the chipset in Galaxy S II and seeing Galaxy S II is coming in a Tegra flavour too, I fail to see this chipset getting widespread gaming support like Qualcomm, Nvidia or TI chipsets will get.
4. OMAP 4
This Chipset is from Texas Instruments, one of the leaders in Chipset Market. It come with a 1ghz dual-core Cortex A9 synchronous CPU. It grabbed third place in the CPU wars. Its just a tad slower than both 8x60 andn Exynos seeing it has a lower clock speed. Linpack is around 38. Its a good performer too.
The GPU is a Power SGX540, the same one from Galaxy S series but clocked higher. GLBenchmark egypt is 31fps. GL Benchmark pro is 58FPS, Nenamark is 57fps, so its a great performer, 3rd in the list of the dual-core beast. It's a great multimedia chip too, supporting almost all formats at 1080p @30fps decode. It can encode 1080p@24fps. It is pretty much like the Tegra in multimedia just supporting a bit more formats.
Its a great chip backed by TI. The content available for the chip is huge as it sports the same GPU as the Galaxy S series the PowerVR SGX540 so everything should be compatible with the chipset from launch. There is minimum exclusive content though but still a great buy. I emphasized the rating more on gaming performance rather than the CPU performance just because all the chipsets are fast enough to run Android buttery smooth. Gaming is what needs more and more power everyday as gaming hasn't saturated yet in terms of graphics and performance. So better buy a phone that can run every game coming in the future as these all beasts can run Android equally fast.
So Ranking the chipsets:
1. Qualcomm 8x60
Devices - HTC Sensation, HTC Evo 3D. Samsung Hercules, ASUS eePAD
Reason - It ties with Exynos on being the fastest chip but has more support than exynos
Deal Breaker- All the devices shipping right now with this chipset have signed bootloader and partitions, so rooting them to take their control will be a tough job.
2. Exynos 4210
Reason - It might be the fastest of the bunch but lack of marketing, content makes it come at second
Devices - Galaxy S II
Reason - It isn't really a very good performer compared to the top 2
Devices - LG Optimus 3D, Droid 3 (could possibly end up being Tegra 2)
4. Tegra 2
Reason - It is the slowest of the bunch. It might be having most of the exclusive content, but slow on multimedia, java and lacking neon makes it 4th. *This will probably change very soon with quad-core hitting the market very soon.
Devices - LG Optimus 2x, LG G2x, Optimus Pad, Atrix 4g, Droid Bionic, Notion Ink, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy S II, ViewSonic Gtab, Droid X2
Note: Bare in mind though that all of these results are based off benchmarking apps and things of that nature. Real world use doesn't always follow test results which means that what performs slow on a test may actually perform better in the real world. Same goes for fast test results but performing slower in the real world. It all depends on what you are using it for. This also can depend greatly on supporting hardware as well such as memory.
AndrewH - Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of DroidGamers. Having been a hardcore PC and console gamer all his life, this passion is now applied to Android gaming and writing about it. When not playing or writing about Android games, he spends his time with is wife and son.