"Holy crap, this thing is fast"

OpenGL ES

So claims iPhone developer Daniel Pasco of Seattle-based Black Pixel, in reference to the performance of the new iPhone 3G S.  Upon receiving the iPhone 3G S, Pasco wanted to put the device through its paces to see what kind of performance the unit's beefed up hardware delivers.  He decided to run several different configurations of Plasma, a CPU-intensive application featuring particle animation that his company is developing for Tap Tap Tap.

For the test, he pitted the 3G S against the second generation iPod touch (the previous speed king of the iPhone family).

iPod Touch 2g:
CPU: Arm 6 running at 533 MHz
GPU: PowerVR MBX Lite

iPhone 3G S:
CPU: Arm 7 running at 600 MHz
GPU: PowerVR SGX

And the result?  According to Pasco, the trend was "starkly apparent."  The iPhone 3G S ran Plasma about twice as fast as the 2G iPod touch in every test.  It's worth noting that the application is only running OpenGL ES 1.1 code and has not been modified to take advantage of any of the improvements in OpenGL ES 2.0, an API no previous member of the iPhone family can utilize.

cortex_a8Pasco also isolated the new device's Cortex A8 processor to assess its particular performance level as compared to the family's previous CPU.

The question of the CPU contribution to performance was nagging at me, so I dug up the C source code for the Scimark2 benchmark suite from NIST and put together a quick test application for the iPhone. Scimark2 is a set of numerically intensive tests including FFTs, successive over relaxation (SOR), Monte Carlo calculations, matrix multiplications and LU decomposition - calculations similar to the ones we do in our application.

I ran the test on the Touch and the 3gs with both small and large (cache-blowing) datasets to see how they compared.

And the results?

iPhone 3G S: 6.42 Mflops (small dataset) 5.86 Mflops (large dataset)
2g Touch: 5.21 Mflops (small dataset) 4.86 Mflops (large dataset)

In the CPU tests, the 3G S showed itself to be around 20% faster than the 2G touch.  A notable improvement, but based on these tests, it would seem that the real benefit to game developers will come from the new unit's PowerVR SGX. Of course, the real test of the iPhone 3G S will come as games begin to support the Open GL ES 2.0 programmable pipeline.

Have a look at our iPhone 3G / 3G S comparison, posted yesterday.

  • munkee

    I hope iPhone 3G S will be faster than next-gen iPod Touch, that way people would buy more real iPhones than dumbed-down iPhones.

    We pay more for iPhone so we deserve more as well.

    • spiffyone

      Not likely to happen, tbqh. While there are slightly more iPhone owners than iTouch owners, a higher percentage of iTouch owners buy processor intensive apps (i.e. games) compared to iPhone owners. So Apple will most likely keep making the iTouch a bit faster than iPhone.

    • mike

      so... iTouch owners are smarter than you, so they deserve it.

      sit on it.

    • Adams Immersive

      Agreed. We ought to at least get a phone :)

    • avalonhighgirl

      technically we pay more for the iTouch than you pay for the iPhone you just have to pay a monthly bill that you got sucked into because you didn't want to carry around a phone and an iTouch so suck it

      • Speedie

        LOL You do *not* pay more for the iPod Touch. Where you came up with the reasoning of "we pay more even though you pay for the service monthly!" is beyond me.

    • onetimeposter

      1 i dont need a phone
      2 i dont need gps
      3 i dont need a shitty camera
      4 3g networks suck balls compared to wifi "internet everywhere" is still a no go in my book

      sooo that about makes an itouch more right for me then an iphone

  • http://deleted munkee

    I hope iPhone 3G S will be faster than next-gen iPod Touch, that way people would buy more real iPhones than dumbed-down iPhones.

    We pay more for iPhone so we deserve more as well.

    • spiffyone

      Not likely to happen, tbqh. While there are slightly more iPhone owners than iTouch owners, a higher percentage of iTouch owners buy processor intensive apps (i.e. games) compared to iPhone owners. So Apple will most likely keep making the iTouch a bit faster than iPhone.

    • mike

      so... iTouch owners are smarter than you, so they deserve it.

      sit on it.

    • Adams Immersive

      Agreed. We ought to at least get a phone :)

    • avalonhighgirl

      technically we pay more for the iTouch than you pay for the iPhone you just have to pay a monthly bill that you got sucked into because you didn't want to carry around a phone and an iTouch so suck it

      • Speedie

        LOL You do *not* pay more for the iPod Touch. Where you came up with the reasoning of "we pay more even though you pay for the service monthly!" is beyond me.

    • onetimeposter

      1 i dont need a phone
      2 i dont need gps
      3 i dont need a shitty camera
      4 3g networks suck balls compared to wifi "internet everywhere" is still a no go in my book

      sooo that about makes an itouch more right for me then an iphone

  • Robert

    Well, you phone users do have more:

    1) you can call people
    2) making photo's and video's
    3) GPS
    4) internet everywhere

    isn't that enough?

    • munkee

      plus free firmware update ;)

      can't wait to get my hands on the new 3G S!

      • http://www.stormchild.net Stormchild

        And new features that iPod users have to wait MONTHS for. When Maps was upgraded in iPhone OS 2.2, with walking directions, public transit and street view, these features were not offered AT ALL for iPod. There was no option to pay and get them right away. We simply had to wait until 3.0.

    • Isaac

      dude, you can do all of that on an ipod touch 4g now lol

      1) there's an app for that
      2) 4g has camera
      3) there's an app for that
      4) wifi IS everywhere

  • Robert

    Well, you phone users do have more:

    1) you can call people
    2) making photo's and video's
    3) GPS
    4) internet everywhere

    isn't that enough?

    • http://deleted munkee

      plus free firmware update ;)

      can't wait to get my hands on the new 3G S!

      • http://www.stormchild.net Stormchild

        And new features that iPod users have to wait MONTHS for. When Maps was upgraded in iPhone OS 2.2, with walking directions, public transit and street view, these features were not offered AT ALL for iPod. There was no option to pay and get them right away. We simply had to wait until 3.0.

  • mrWalrus

    I'm just stoked at being able to make a game that runs at 60 fps on a handheld device. =D

  • mrWalrus

    I'm just stoked at being able to make a game that runs at 60 fps on a handheld device. =D

  • dragons lair

    PowerVR SGX is a great GPU, a compelling reason to grab an iphone. I'd expect to see this in a dedicated handheld console from the the traditional console companies! The iphone is truly entering the games market big style.

  • dragons lair

    PowerVR SGX is a great GPU, a compelling reason to grab an iphone. I'd expect to see this in a dedicated handheld console from the the traditional console companies! The iphone is truly entering the games market big style.

  • shap

    So will we see a new ipod touch 3rd generation with more power? If so any time soon?

    • http://partis.si tine

      we will probably see it in october or november.

      • shap

        cheers m8

    • Rev

      Yup. When? September, like always. :)

    • spiffyone

      September. Apple is having their "buy a Macbook, get an iPod touch for free" sale for college students, which is really just a way to get rid of excess stock. Generally they do this before unleashing a new model.

      BTW...as far as I'm concerned, there is no 3rd "generation" iPhone or iPod touch. There wasn't a 2nd "generation" either...until now. There were redesigns, and now this true next gen product (3Gs). Then again my use of the term "gen" goes by the convention used by gamers...but, then again...aren't we all gamers here? It is toucharcade, after all, not touchproductivitysoftware ;)

      • http://www.stormchild.net Stormchild

        The annual revisions of iPod and iPhone hardware that Apple has produced regularly since the first iPod in 2001 have always been referred to as "generations", so as far as everyone else is concerned, your naming system is irrelevant and wrong.

      • http://www.scifly2.com Josh Rosen

        The word "generation" in 3G refers to the cell network, not the hardware. The iPhone 3G was the second generation iPhone hardware, the 3G S is the 3rd generation iPhone hardware.

      • spiffyone

        I know that. But in the game industry "generation" refers not to minor redesigns but "next gen successors" to previously released consoles. In effect, the PS2 Slim redesign of the PS2 is not a new "gen", but a redesign. The PS3 is the new "gen" console successor to PS2.

        So it's not a matter of "wrong and irrelevant" but rather "wrong only if one is NOT using the term as used by gamers and within the video game hardware industry". Apple is not using the term in the manner that gamers have, but rather the way that they always have within the mobile media player market.

        And I was kidding, btw...so don't get your panties in a bunch :)

  • shap

    So will we see a new ipod touch 3rd generation with more power? If so any time soon?

    • http://partis.si tine

      we will probably see it in october or november.

      • shap

        cheers m8

    • Rev

      Yup. When? September, like always. :)

    • spiffyone

      September. Apple is having their "buy a Macbook, get an iPod touch for free" sale for college students, which is really just a way to get rid of excess stock. Generally they do this before unleashing a new model.

      BTW...as far as I'm concerned, there is no 3rd "generation" iPhone or iPod touch. There wasn't a 2nd "generation" either...until now. There were redesigns, and now this true next gen product (3Gs). Then again my use of the term "gen" goes by the convention used by gamers...but, then again...aren't we all gamers here? It is toucharcade, after all, not touchproductivitysoftware ;)

      • http://www.stormchild.net Stormchild

        The annual revisions of iPod and iPhone hardware that Apple has produced regularly since the first iPod in 2001 have always been referred to as "generations", so as far as everyone else is concerned, your naming system is irrelevant and wrong.

      • http://www.scifly2.com Josh Rosen

        The word "generation" in 3G refers to the cell network, not the hardware. The iPhone 3G was the second generation iPhone hardware, the 3G S is the 3rd generation iPhone hardware.

      • spiffyone

        I know that. But in the game industry "generation" refers not to minor redesigns but "next gen successors" to previously released consoles. In effect, the PS2 Slim redesign of the PS2 is not a new "gen", but a redesign. The PS3 is the new "gen" console successor to PS2.

        So it's not a matter of "wrong and irrelevant" but rather "wrong only if one is NOT using the term as used by gamers and within the video game hardware industry". Apple is not using the term in the manner that gamers have, but rather the way that they always have within the mobile media player market.

        And I was kidding, btw...so don't get your panties in a bunch :)

  • Sticktron

    The speed of this thing in fantastic to behold in your hands.
    Playing 3D FPS's like BIA and Terminator the controls become suddenly very useable, swiping to look around is so fast and fluid.

  • Sticktron

    The speed of this thing in fantastic to behold in your hands.
    Playing 3D FPS's like BIA and Terminator the controls become suddenly very useable, swiping to look around is so fast and fluid.

  • slappy

    How fast is it vs the Palm Pee and BB Fizzle, err I mean Storm?

  • slappy

    How fast is it vs the Palm Pee and BB Fizzle, err I mean Storm?

  • I am unknown

    This is getting really annoying now about how many times they want to prove the ipohne 3gs is fast. We know it is so wtf us the point of doing so many tests to prove something everyone already knows and waste so much space on Toucharcade for the articles.

    • munkee

      you can always opt not to read it, remember not everyone's trolling TA like you.

      It's a very important step in AppStore gaming, a huge jump in the right direction, thus it deserves all spotlight. What else do you want to get covered? iFart?

    • Cory Gillmore

      Awwww, someone couldn't afford a 3G S?? Come here I'll give you hug and make it better. Quit your crying.

  • I am unknown

    This is getting really annoying now about how many times they want to prove the ipohne 3gs is fast. We know it is so wtf us the point of doing so many tests to prove something everyone already knows and waste so much space on Toucharcade for the articles.

    • http://deleted munkee

      you can always opt not to read it, remember not everyone's trolling TA like you.

      It's a very important step in AppStore gaming, a huge jump in the right direction, thus it deserves all spotlight. What else do you want to get covered? iFart?

    • Cory Gillmore

      Awwww, someone couldn't afford a 3G S?? Come here I'll give you hug and make it better. Quit your crying.

  • MilesO'Toole

    Awesome work.

  • MilesO'Toole

    Awesome work.

  • TKO

    I wouldn't be surprised if they end up doing a slightly faster iPod Touch again. And why not? They're a great wee device that tends to get used for CPU intensive stuff a lot. And, so long as each device is different, devs can't get lazy and program for one CPU speed. :D

    I think there will always be a large install-base of Touch owners, coz it's the only one you can (cheaply .. relatively cheaply) give as a present. Rock on iPod Touch. (tho I have a phone.) :)

  • TKO

    I wouldn't be surprised if they end up doing a slightly faster iPod Touch again. And why not? They're a great wee device that tends to get used for CPU intensive stuff a lot. And, so long as each device is different, devs can't get lazy and program for one CPU speed. :D

    I think there will always be a large install-base of Touch owners, coz it's the only one you can (cheaply .. relatively cheaply) give as a present. Rock on iPod Touch. (tho I have a phone.) :)

  • cir

    wow i smell hype

    • Cory Gillmore

      Wow, I smell someone who is ineligible for an upgrade.

      • http://www.stormchild.net Stormchild

        Haha, match point goes to Mr. Gillmore.

  • cir

    wow i smell hype

    • Cory Gillmore

      Wow, I smell someone who is ineligible for an upgrade.

      • http://www.stormchild.net Stormchild

        Haha, match point goes to Mr. Gillmore.

  • http://ifonekit.com bomber

    Compiling specifically for the new cpu (armv7 sub type) should give another speed boost, it seems that the iPhone supports univeral binaries.

  • http://ifonekit.com bomber

    Compiling specifically for the new cpu (armv7 sub type) should give another speed boost, it seems that the iPhone supports univeral binaries.

  • UKATU

    By the way, lazy people, Apple doesn't make an ITouch they make an iPod Touch. Get it.

    • http://www.stormchild.net Stormchild

      If you really want to be picky about it, it's "iPod touch" (similar to "Mac mini", the second word is NOT capitalized). So maybe YOU should get it right.

  • UKATU

    By the way, lazy people, Apple doesn't make an ITouch they make an iPod Touch. Get it.

    • http://www.stormchild.net Stormchild

      If you really want to be picky about it, it's "iPod touch" (similar to "Mac mini", the second word is NOT capitalized). So maybe YOU should get it right.

  • http://www.scifly2.com Josh Rosen

    Replying way to late, but wanted to make a few comments.

    As mentioned, the hardware improvements are great for games, even if the CPU is only 20% faster. The graphics hardware is improved in terms of performance, which is good. OpenGL ES 2.0 support is very important and should not be understated.

    This is definitely true for games, but it's also worth noting the OpenGL ES 2.0 unlocks the GPU to be used as a second processor for any type of App. For example, it would now be possible to make hardware accelerated image processing apps that work well in real time. Any type of calculation intensive app, especially ones with vectorizable floating point calculations, could see a HUGE performance gain.

    There's also 2X the amount of RAM/memory (128 to 256) which (I speculate) may yield greater than 2X the amount of RAM available to a game. This is because the RAM overhead from the iPhone OS has not increased, so the margin should be greater 2X.

    Sorry if my writing is rough, I gotta get back to work on SciFly :/

  • http://www.scifly2.com Josh Rosen

    Replying way to late, but wanted to make a few comments.

    As mentioned, the hardware improvements are great for games, even if the CPU is only 20% faster. The graphics hardware is improved in terms of performance, which is good. OpenGL ES 2.0 support is very important and should not be understated.

    This is definitely true for games, but it's also worth noting the OpenGL ES 2.0 unlocks the GPU to be used as a second processor for any type of App. For example, it would now be possible to make hardware accelerated image processing apps that work well in real time. Any type of calculation intensive app, especially ones with vectorizable floating point calculations, could see a HUGE performance gain.

    There's also 2X the amount of RAM/memory (128 to 256) which (I speculate) may yield greater than 2X the amount of RAM available to a game. This is because the RAM overhead from the iPhone OS has not increased, so the margin should be greater 2X.

    Sorry if my writing is rough, I gotta get back to work on SciFly :/

  • Speedie

    So, this post is about how a newer device with a faster processor is...faster?

    Seemed like a lot of text just to tell me that.

  • Speedie

    So, this post is about how a newer device with a faster processor is...faster?

    Seemed like a lot of text just to tell me that.

  • Drunknbass

    I can wait till we get some optimized math libraries that take advantage of the neon and really see how much more this phone can handle.

  • Drunknbass

    I can wait till we get some optimized math libraries that take advantage of the neon and really see how much more this phone can handle.

  • johnny

    this means the PS1 emulator will actualy run fast :) finaly!

  • johnny

    this means the PS1 emulator will actualy run fast :) finaly!

  • Bammaster

    Lol cause emulatings not illegal right? Anyways i know the 3gs is great and all but i have verizon so the iPod touch 4g(since its been announced to skip a gen) is what im hyped about. Ive been stuck with a first gen touch and its not been fun missing out on all the new 3.0 features. Anyone have anyother news about it other than the new wifi adapter and RAM?

  • Bammaster

    Lol cause emulatings not illegal right? Anyways i know the 3gs is great and all but i have verizon so the iPod touch 4g(since its been announced to skip a gen) is what im hyped about. Ive been stuck with a first gen touch and its not been fun missing out on all the new 3.0 features. Anyone have anyother news about it other than the new wifi adapter and RAM?

  • http://Kaosteam.110mb.com RPGbig

    Emulators aren't illeagal if you own the game(s) and system. I sought many people use them leagal tho. Psx probley still won't run at full speed but some where close. Fast wifi and more ram would be cool too.

    There are going to be fixs to make it not jailbreak able for probley 6+ months because some retard wanted to make a quick buck.

  • http://Kaosteam.110mb.com RPGbig

    Emulators aren't illeagal if you own the game(s) and system. I sought many people use them leagal tho. Psx probley still won't run at full speed but some where close. Fast wifi and more ram would be cool too.

    There are going to be fixs to make it not jailbreak able for probley 6+ months because some retard wanted to make a quick buck.

  • http://www.roofline-residential.co.uk roofers in west yorkshire

    i wish they just went the whole hog and changed it completely, make it twice as fast insted of the steady upgrades

  • http://www.roofline-residential.co.uk roofers in west yorkshire

    i wish they just went the whole hog and changed it completely, make it twice as fast insted of the steady upgrades

  • RobCRX

    I'm beginning to feel the cold shoulder of app developers. iPod touch users will have far lower specs and all the new games that take advantage of open gl 2.0 will be hardly playable on the ipot.

  • RobCRX

    I'm beginning to feel the cold shoulder of app developers. iPod touch users will have far lower specs and all the new games that take advantage of open gl 2.0 will be hardly playable on the ipot.