Go through the lists of hardware specifications of the various popular dual-core Android devices, and you’ll likely notice two processors frequently come up. These would be nVidia’s Tegra 2 and Texas Instrument’s OMAP 4. And while the former was a little more favored by the earlier models such as the Motorola Atrix, lately it seems that the 4th generation of TI’s OMAP (Open Multimedia Application Platform) is gaining ground with the mobile device manufacturers. A good example here would be the Droid Bionic, a smart phone initially reported to be powered by a Tegra 2 processor but eventually reached store shelves with an OMAP 4 under the hood.
The two system-on-chips are fundamentally similar when it comes to cores as they both utilize the ARM Cortex A9. In other aspects however, they exchange little advantages over each other.
The more recent AP25 and T25 models of Tegra 2 have a speed of 1.2 GHz which is comparable with the OMAP 4430 model. But for the OMAP 4460, this is just the minimum and this particular model can be pushed to 1.5 GHz.
nVidia has a well established reputation in this area, so it is a bit surprising that the OMAP 4 has the edge on this issue. The OMAP 4’s graphics processing unit is the PowerVR SGX540 while the Tegra 2 uses an ultra low-voltage GeForce. In one benchmark comparison between the LG Optimus 3D (OMAP 4430) and the LG Optimus 2X (Tegra 2), the OMAP 4 scored slightly higher in terms of native resolution and frames-per-second. TI’s processor seems to be better too, when it comes to video codecs, specifically in rendering MPEG-4 files. This has been attributed to the IVA3 multimedia hardware accelerator component of all OMAP 4 models. This processor also supports 3D display but this feature is still coming soon on nVidia’s next line, the Tegra 3 series.
Mobile processors are designed to be thrifty when it comes to power usage and this is where the Tegra 2 takes the lead. The OMAP 4 may be faster and better at graphics processing but it gets these advantages at the cost of using more power. The Tegra 2 is able to save more battery life because it includes an ARM7 core along with the Cortex A9’s. This is an older and less power consuming core that handles the system processes that run in the background when the device is idle.
So is the OMAP 4 better than the Tegra 2? The answer to that would depend on which Android device the processors were put into. A smart phone’s CPU is certainly a significant factor in its performance but it can’t completely account for overall user experience. Be honest, can you really tell the difference between 1.2 and 1.5 GHz? Not being able to play a video properly or having to recharge the battery too frequently would be a more relevant concerns, right?
Also, if you’re interest in mobile processors, be sure to check out our comprehensive comparison of the best upcoming technology from Nvidia, TI, Qualcomm and more here: S4 vs Tegra 3 vs OMAP 4470 vs Exynos 4212: Strong-ARMed Superchip Showdown!
Which processor do you have in your Android device? Are you happy with its performance and battery life?