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Samsung's 'Exynos 5 Dual' faces-off against Intel's 'Atom N570'

by Alistair Lowe on 1 November 2012, 12:15

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Samsung (005935.KS)

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When Google's latest silver Chromebook, the XE303, cropped-up, powered by the industry's first ARM Cortex-A15 SoC, the Samsung Exynos 5 Dual, a small debate raged over the performance of ARM's latest offerings against Intel's low-power Atom alternatives, with the difference in architecture making theoretical comparison near impossible.

Wishing to settle matters, the good folks over at AnandTech benchmarked the new ARM-based SoC in Google's Chromebook against previous model, the Chromebook 500, powered by a Pineview Intel Atom N570, running the same, Chrome OS, which is perhaps about as close as we can expect to reach for a fair and direct comparison.

SunSpider 0.9.1 BrowserMark RIAbench Focus Tests Kraken IE10 Bubbles Test IE10 Fishbowl IE10 Maze Solver
Atom N570 1.66GHz 1034.3 ms 152780 1968 ms 14229.5 ms 11 fps 5 fps 45 s
Exynos 5 Dual 1.7GHz 690.5 ms 217031 1192 ms 9733.2 ms 17 fps 8 fps 17 s
Difference 50% 42% 65% 46% 55% 60% 165%

Both the Atom N570 and the Exynos 5 feature dual-core CPUs and are both clocked at similar speeds. The Exynos 5 is based on Samsung's 32nm HKMG technology, whilst the Atom on Intel's 45nm process.

Intel has since released its 32nm range of Cedarfield Atoms (and Clovertrail SoC variants), which offer slightly faster CPU performance in a similar power-profile and a beefier on-die GPU, though the general architecture remains similar. Likewise, though not on the market until early next year, Samsung is already believed to be in development of a 28nm HKMG Exynos 5 Quad, which should offer superior CPU and GPU performance in a similar power-profile.

The results above speak for themselves, showing the Exynos 5 out-pacing the Atom N570 by an average of 65 per cent on what are primarily CPU-bound tests, however, this is only the start of the story, next-up are performance comparisons performed in WebGL.

WebGL Solar System WebGL Cubes (500) WebGL Aquarium (50)
Atom N570 1.66GHz 2 fps 10 fps 2 fps
Exynos 5 Dual 1.7GHz 22 fps 28 fps 38 fps
Difference 1000% 180% 1800%

For the most-part, the Atom N570's 3D prowess is non-existent and so, you can see how a beefing-up of clock rates in Cedarfield's GPU may have little affect on the firm's latest Atom processors. Meanwhile the Exynos 5 Dual demonstrates itself to be just about sufficient enough to take part in 3D web-based gaming, opening-up doors inaccessible to Intel's Atom.

Sadly, it's not currently possible to provide a direct comparison when it comes to power consumption. Chromebook hardware in-general is too different and a closer comparison with the Exynos 5 SoC would be best placed against Clovertrail, Intel's Atom-based SoC.

Samsung Google Chromebook

Even if we were to account for Intel's latest 32nm Atom variants, it's clear that Samsung's Exynos 5 Dual and, by extension, ARM's latest Cortex-A15 CPU designs offer superior performance, with an even greater gap in GPU numbers. Intel is at long-last expected to release a completely new Atom architecture next-year, which will be going-up against quad-core variants of ARM's Cortex-A15.

With ARM revealing that in 2014, a 64-bit architecture offering three-fold performance, scalable down to 14nm will be available, Intel is likely to run into some serious competition, which we suspect will see the two firms swapping performance crowns fairly often, though, there's still a chance for domination on either-side, we won't know until we see just how capable Intel's new architecture is, next year.

HEXUS Forums :: 22 Comments

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This is got to be the beginning of the end of Intel's dominance in CPU's.

Samsung and Arm are both quickly catching up with Intel and both offering cheaper and better products. Once these start filtering into the home desktop with OS's that support the architect then I think the consumer is going to rejoice in some cheaper computing.
I wonder if this will get the "Intel can never do wrong", "Atom will thrash ARM", "ARM is dead", etc people to actually stop and think about what they're writing?
This is pretty exciting. With this kind of performance I can see why AMD is going to start producing ARM-based chips for future Opterons.

Even with all the money and power Intel has, I can't see them being able to scale down the x86 architecture enough to be able to compete with ARM in the phone and tablet market. However, at this rate I can easily see ARM taking some of the laptop and server market off Intel.
Samsung appear on a real roll at the moment...
What I'd be curious to see is whether this changes Intel's strategy a little, they're good at the high end but not the low, so why are they trying to decrease maximum power draw on CPUs when that's just pushing them away from the area they're good at?

I'm fine with power draw being decreased for general usage, but when I want to play a game or more commonly atm compile things, do a bit of 3D rendering, and convert videos I'd rather have a 130W CPU with roughly double the performance of a 77W one

*edit* I suppose I mean performance per watt is important but I don't want to see these decreasing TDPs, I want to fix them at some level that's reasonable to cool (130W say since heatsinks claim they're good for it) and just get more performance generation after generation