System Performance

System performance on the QRD865 was a bit of a tricky topic, as we’ve seen that the same chipset can differ quite a lot depending on the software implementation done by the vendor. For the performance preview this year, Qualcomm again integrated a “Performance” mode on the test devices, alongside the default scheduler and DVFS behaviour of the BSP delivered to vendors.

There’s a fine line between genuine “Performance” modes as implemented on commercial devices such as from Samsung and Huawei, which make tunings to the DVFS and schedulers which increase performance while remaining reasonable in their aggressiveness, and more absurd “cheating” performance modes such as implemented by OPPO for example, which simply ramp up the minimum frequencies of the chip.

Qualcomm’s performance mode on the QRD865 is walking this fine line – it’s extremely aggressive in that it’s ramping up the chipset to maximum frequency in ~30ms. It’s also having the little cores start at a notably higher frequency than in the default mode. Nevertheless, it’s still a legitimate operation mode, although I do not expect very many devices to be configured in this way.

The default mode on the other hand is quite similar to what we’ve seen on the Snapdragon 855 QRD last year, but the issue is that this was also rather conservative and many popular devices such as the Galaxy S10 were configured to be more aggressive. Whilst the default config of the QRD865 should be representative of most devices next year, I do expect many of them to do better than the figures represented by this config.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Web Browsing 2.0

Starting off with the web browsing test, we’re seeing the big difference in performance scaling between the two chipsets. The test here is mostly sensible to the performance scaling of the A55 cores. The QRD865 in the default more is more conservative than some existing S855 devices, which is why it performs worse in those situations. On the other hand, the performance results of the QRD865 here are also extremely aggressive and receives the best results out there amongst our current device range. I expect commercial devices to fall in somewhere between the two extremes.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Video Editing

The video editing test nowadays is no longer performance sensitive and most devices fall in the same result range.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Writing 2.0

The writing test is amongst the most important and representative of daily performance of a device, and here the QRD865 does well in both configurations. The Mate 30 Pro with the Kirin 990 is the only other competitive device at this performance level.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Photo Editing 2.0

The Photo Editing test makes use of RenderScript and GPU acceleration, and here it seems the new QRD865 makes some big improvements. Performance is a step-function higher than previous generation devices.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Data Manipulation

Finally, the data manipulation test oddly enough falls in middle of the pack for both performance modes. I’m not too sure as to why this is, but we’ve seen the test being quite sensible to scheduler or even OS configurations.

PCMark Work 2.0 - Performance

Generally, the QRD865 phone landed at the top of the rankings in PCMark.

Web Benchmarks

Speedometer 2.0 - OS WebView WebXPRT 3 - OS WebView JetStream 2 - OS Webview

The web benchmarks results presented here were somewhat disappointing. The QRD865 really didn’t manage to differentiate itself from the rest of the Android pack even though it was supposed to be roughly 20-25% ahead in theory. I’m not sure what the limitation here is, but the 5-10% increases are well below what we had hoped for. For now, it seems like the performance gap to Apple’s chips remains significant.

System Performance Conclusion

Overall, we expect system performance of Snapdragon 865 devices to be excellent. Commercial devices will likely differ somewhat in terms of their scores as I do not expect them to be configured exactly the same as the QRD865. I was rather disappointed with the web benchmarks as the improvements were quite meagre – in hindsight it might be a reason as to why Arm didn’t talk about them at all during the Cortex-A77 launch.

CPU Performance & Efficiency: SPEC2006 Machine Learning Inference Performance
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  • michael2k - Wednesday, December 18, 2019 - link

    I know you want to think that, but the 855 right now barely competes with the A13. The gap may be getting smaller, but when Apple has a multiple year lead in performance, it will take multiple years of iteration to catch up, and that assumes Apple isn't growing either.

    From the article, the 865 wasn't very competitive with the older A12:
    On the integer side, the A77 still trails Apple’s Monsoon cores in the A11, but the new Arm design now has been able to trounce it in the FP suite. We’re still a bit far away from the microarchitectures catching up to Apple’s latest designs, but if Arm keeps up this 25-30% yearly improvement rate, we should be getting there in a few more iterations.
    The QRD865 really didn’t manage to differentiate itself from the rest of the Android pack even though it was supposed to be roughly 20-25% ahead in theory. I’m not sure what the limitation here is, but the 5-10% increases are well below what we had hoped for. For now, it seems like the performance gap to Apple’s chips remains significant.
    There’s one apparent issue here when looking at the chart rankings; although there’s an improvement in the peak performance, the end result is that the QRD865 still isn’t able to reach the sustained performance of Apple’s latest A13 phones.
    Looking at the estimated power draw of the phone, it indeed does look like Qualcomm has been able to sustain the same power levels as the S855, but the improvements in performance and efficiency here aren’t enough to catch up to either the A12 or A13, with Apple being both ahead in terms of performance, power and efficiency.

    The 855 was released early this year and was not very competitive with the slightly older A11:
  • Deboo - Monday, January 27, 2020 - link

    Isn't apple cpu cores are arm based
  • michael2k - Tuesday, December 17, 2019 - link

    The formal term for it is induction.
    Apple's GPU is very competitive in phones, sometimes taking the top spot, sometimes not:

    But for their tablets, Apple proceeds to beef up the GPU over 2x the iPhone, in this case by having 75% more CPU cores, much better thermal capacity, and higher clockspeed:

    It is beaten by the GTX 1060, but beats the Ryzen 7, in PC space, and soundly beats the iPhone by 80% when not CPU bound.

    So the inductive part is that, given the 865 approaches the performance of an iPhone, it won't approach the performance of an iPad.
  • id4andrei - Tuesday, December 17, 2019 - link

    One thing to remember when you compare GPUs. Benchmarks usually run half precision operations on mobile compared to what they run on desktop - FP16 vs FP32. Also on ios they run Metal while on Windows DX12 or Vulkan or OpenGL. Not the same thing.
  • IUU - Thursday, December 26, 2019 - link

    Apple cores beating the ryzen 7 is a very big word and requires a big leap of faith
  • ph00ny - Monday, December 16, 2019 - link

    Probably. Android tablet is pretty dead and there is no real solid demand for a "faster" hardware
  • generalako - Monday, December 16, 2019 - link

    That's a stupid exaggeration. If it were dead how come Huawei just released the Mediapad M6 this summer with Kirin 980, and is currently releasing an even more premium tablet right now? How come Samsung makes a new Tab S every year, along with iterations of cheaper models every now and then? Same with Xiaomi, Lenovo and others. Low-end market is sprawling with new tablets from all sorts of brands. Even LG released a tablet this year. The tablet market may not be huge, and certainly lackluster in a lot of ways on Android (mainly due to Google neglecting it since Nexus 9 was a flop; you don’t follow-up Nexus 7 v2—the best tablet ever made—with that nonsense), but it very much exists and is desired by a lot of customers. This reality is true for Apple too, that waited 4-5 years before it released a new iPad Mini iteration.

    As an avid tablet user myself, even with a lot to be desired on Android, I still very much like many offerings by them the past 2 years. I'm currently using both an iPad Mini 5 and Mediapad M6 8.4”. Seeing as I, like most other people, use tablett for media consumption (YouTube, streaming movies/shows, reading books, Reddit, browsing, Spotify), the available supported apps are equally good for both platforms. If I were to dive deeper to dedicated application, sure, iPad has much better support, I really never do as I use a tablet for the specific uses it was made for. I can see this be a complaint if you're an iPad Pro user and use it for professional work, but I don't really see that being a desire for even those using regular iPad or iPad Mini. Maybe if you’re a gamer, but that’s really it.

    I use the Huawei more than the iPad Mini due to how much more intuitive Android is. At the end of the day, they both run oversized variants of their smartphone OS, and Android is simply more intuitive in a lot of respects, with iOS use still feeling like having one hand behind my back. Where Apple is fantastic though, is in its hardware implementation, like its excellent screen calibration and touch latency, or having a 3.5mm input (unlike M6 or newer Tab S, sadly) with really good DAC that properly drives my HD650. Mediapad wins in more effective and ease-of-use OS, 16:10 aspect ratio. Android also makes it easier to do things like torrenting (which is great for downloading/streaming movies, football matches, etc.), local file management and sharing and more. Ironically, Apple has made up for the Mediapad’s lack of jack with its fantastic 3.5mm Type-C for $7, which beats DACs upwards of 10x its price (no joke – Apple really knocked it out of the park).
  • imaheadcase - Tuesday, December 17, 2019 - link

    Let alone the thousands of Samsung tablets with android that sell like hot cakes. Given the sell over holidays on them, they are even more attractive.

    Sure Samsung is terrible at updating software, but not a deal breaker by any means, i tried parents Ipad and it just felt wrong using it, i can't quite put finger on reason, just seems so limited with apps and just not responsive.

    Things just work great on Android variant for me.
  • Oliseo - Thursday, December 19, 2019 - link

    One look at Android App Stores tells you just how successful Android Tablets are. That's something everyone can do, and not just take some random fanboys drivel on a forum.

    /end debate
  • Lois - Friday, December 27, 2019 - link

    This is just your feeling and not a fact… Some people feel better on iPadOS and some others on Android. Now the fact is that iPad is more powerfull than andoid Tablets…

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