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iPad 2 graphics processor beats the competition in benchmarking tests

iPad 2Now that anyone with a spare $499 (or more) to spend can get themselves an iPad 2, the more tech-savvy among us are beginning to put the device through its paces to see what it can handle. As it turns out, it can handle quite a bit. The second-generation iPad‘s biggest upgrades are an Apple A5 900 MHz dual-core processor and a PowerVR SGX543MP2 graphics processor, not to mention twice the RAM of the first iPad, making improved performance a main draw for prospective buyers.

The tablet’s GPU was put through a series of benchmarking tests by AnandTech, and while the fine details get pretty technical, the takeaway is as simple as can be: the iPad 2 tops the competition.

Using an iPad, an iPad 2 and a Motorola Xoom, which features NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 CPU with integrated GPU, the website ran tests in GLBenchmark 2.0, a standard for measuring graphics performance in mobile environment. Initial testing looked at each device’s ability to handle geometry and fetch texture (literally, fill in a geometric object’s details) with the iPad 2 coming out ahead by a wide margin in all cases. The iPad 2 was able to display more than double the number of triangles — a component of the geometry tests — and showed an almost 5x increased in texture fetch performance.

Next came the GLBenchmark 2.0 Egypt test, a pre-rendered scene of an ancient Egyptian soldier walking through a series of environments that is designed to test the range of the GPU’s gaming display capabilities. The iPad 2 again came out ahead, running at 44 frames per second against the Xoom’s 11.8 and the first-gen iPad’s 8.1 in one test and at 44.8 fps against the iPad’s 6.4 in a second, in which anti-aliasing was turned on.

The final phase of the benchmarking involved looking at Epic Games’ App Store game Infinity Blade, which recently got an iPad 2-specific update. As you can see in the comparison pics posted at AnandTech (mouse over them to see the comparison), there is significantly more detail evident in the improved iPad 2 version of the game.

Several AnandTech commenters rightly note that the Xoom runs at a higher resolution than either iPad, so a performance dip is to be expected in the comparison. One goes as far as saying that the Xoom’s Tegra chip is “not at all optimized,” echoing other complaints that have been leveled at the Motorola tablet. The basic fact remains though: the iPad 2 packs in some power.

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