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Has Intel Really Beaten ARM? EE Times Community Spotlights Benchmarks' Vagaries

SAN FRANCISCO, July 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The electronics industry has been abuzz around new AnTuTu benchmark results and a recent ABI Research report claiming, "Intel apps processor outperforms Nvidia, Qualcomm, and Samsung."  Has Intel surpassed the entire ARM ecosystem in mobile processors for the all-important high-end smartphone segment?

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In response to the report, EE Times member Jim McGregor investigated further and compiled a variety of benchmark information from tech reviewers, benchmarking organizations and other industry resources. In particular, he looked at processors from Samsung, Intel and Qualcomm and, in effect, debunked the entire report, showing that ARM-based processors came out on top. At the same time, he pointed to the nuances and traps of processor benchmarking in general.

"Evaluating current mobile processors is challenging because these processors, known as systems-on-chips (SoCs), are complex systems of heterogeneous processing elements combined with memory, I/O, high-speed networks, communications modems and a host of other dedicated system functions," he wrote.

"Integration of the processors into mobile devices further complicates any evaluation because the overall performance and efficiency of these processors is impacted by the other system components. As a result, the industry turns to benchmarks to compare processors and devices. Unfortunately, mobile benchmarks are plagued by many issues and also fall short of providing an accurate evaluation."

Despite what seemed a fairly comprehensive conclusion, the EE Times community took McGregor's analysis, and benchmarking in general, to task, with an emphasis on power consumption:

eewiz: "...this analysis kinda sidestep[s] the issue of power consumption. It was not the processor's computational speed that was in question. It was that Intel CPU had more or less the same performance at HALF the current drain/power."

jaybus0: "Well, long calls affecting battery life is much more a function of the RF chipset efficiency and software control of transmit levels, etc. I don't see how it would fit into a comparison of digital SoCs."

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