CPU Performance

The while the original Nexus 7 was fast for the money, the new Nexus 7 is just fast. Moving away from NVIDIA to Qualcomm, ASUS and Google settled on the APQ8064 Pro. Although we originally assumed this would be a quad-core Krait 200 based SoC, Brian's teardown revealed the part number 8064-1AA. What's special about that part number is it implies newer Krait 300 cores, making the SoC effectively a Snapdragon 600.

The CPU cores can run at up to 1.5GHz, putting it a bit lower than what we've seen from Snapdragon 600 based phones (e.g. HTC One tops out at 1.7GHz, while the US SGS4 hits 1.9GHz).

I was curious as to the impact of the lower frequency when combined with the potentially higher chassis TDP so I compared the Nexus 7 to the US Galaxy S 4. I turned to Geekbench because it offers a nicely woven mixture of single and multithreaded benchmarks, letting me look at peak available single core performance as well as what happens when multiple cores are active and working.

In this first graph we're looking at the first Krait 300 core running the workload. I've zoomed in to a small portion of the benchmark so we can get a better idea of CPU behavior:

The Nexus 7's CPU0 is almost always pegged at 1.5GHz whereas we see a lot of bursty thermal management on the smaller SGS4. This isn't unexpected, but what ends up happening is the sustained performance advantage drops from a peak theoretical max of 26% down to a more reasonable average gain of ~8%.

I was curious to see if multithreaded workloads showed any different behavior. Here we're looking at the fourth CPU core (CPU3). Note that it's not always active, which is why you see parts of the graph drop down to 0KHz. Once again we see similarly static behavior from the Nexus 7. Even with all four cores active, when you need the performance the Nexus 7 delivers a full 1.5GHz. These tests are short enough where we don't see tremendous swings in frequency, but once again we do see some frequency modulation in a smaller chassis.

The end result is that the Nexus 7's 1.5GHz Krait 300 cores are slower than what you'd get in a Galaxy S 4, however the gap isn't nearly as large as you'd expect it to be thanks to the larger chassis and how the platform is tuned. The Nexus 7 can run at 1.5GHz more consistently than Snapdragon 600 based phones can run at 1.7/1.9GHz.

Google Octane v1

Mozilla Kraken Benchmark (Stock Browser)

SunSpider 1.0 Benchmark


Qualcomm seems to be frequency binning here, which is standard industry practice. Using binning to create these different SKUs gives Qualcomm pricing flexibility and also gives it the option to give large customers special treatment.

On the graphics side Qualcomm's Adreno 320 GPU makes an appearance. Clock speeds are also limited to 400MHz, compared to 450MHz for the high-end Snapdragon 600 implementations we've seen.

The APQ8064-1AA's dual-channel memory controller is populated with four x 16-bit DDR3L-1600 memory devices, giving the Nexus 7 a healthy amount of memory bandwidth. Peak memory bandwidth available to the APQ8064-1AA is 12.8GB/s, equalling what's available to Apple's A5X in the 3rd generation iPad with Retina display. Tons of memory bandwidth is obviously a pre-requisite for driving a high resolution display, and the combination of DDR3L-1600 and the Adreno 320 GPU delivers a butter smooth UI in all well written Android apps.

Although CPU performance is somewhat middle of the road compared to the rest of the landscape, GPU performance is faster than any other Nexus device on the market - and pretty much faster than any other similarly sized tablet:

3DMark - Ice Storm

3DMark - Graphics Score

3DMark - Physics Score

Basemark X (Offscreen 1080p)

Basemark X (Onscreen)

GLBenchmark 2.7 - T-Rex HD (Onscreen)

GLBenchmark 2.7 - T-Rex HD (Offscreen)

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Egypt HD (Onscreen)

GLBenchmark 2.5 - Egypt HD (Offscreen)

I played Modern Combat 4 as well as Shadowgun, both demanding 3D titles, on the new Nexus 7. Both titles appeared to render at the Nexus 7's native 1920 x 1200 resolution, and both appeared to do so at around 30 fps.

Platform Power & Battery Life eMMC and FSTRIM
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  • Arbie - Thursday, August 22, 2013 - link

    No micro/SD card = no sale.

    One of the main reasons I would buy something like this is "media consumption". Nothing - including large internal memory - can compare to SD for swapping media sets in and out. Like.. 16GB in 5 sec. Plus you can carry any number of extra sets with you.

    The continued refusal of Google and Amazon to include SD is sad, at least for me. Fortunately, Samsung does do SD.
  • sweenish - Thursday, August 22, 2013 - link

    If it really came down to that for me, I'd go USB OTG with my wife's 1 TB WD Passport. Not as elegant as a microSD card, but I'm plunked down to watch something anyway.

    Otherwise, I'm streaming.
  • sherlockwing - Thursday, August 22, 2013 - link

    For me the 32GB is plenty for media consumption on a plane, I can get 47 hours of 720p down to 20G with handbrake and that last me a few days. When I run out of videos I just move in new ones from my laptop.
  • bji - Friday, August 23, 2013 - link

    You watch alot of TV. 47 hours would last me about ... a year.
  • just4U - Saturday, August 24, 2013 - link

    Bji, Some flights can be extremely long and by the sounds of it Sherlock might be one of those types of long haul commuters.. Hah New York To Japan a few times a month might do the trick in having your device stacked full of video.
  • Impulses - Friday, August 23, 2013 - link

    USB OTG plus my 32GB SanDisk USB 3.0 flash drive ($37 during a Newegg deal)... It's wayyy quicker to transfer movies to that drive anyway (at close to 200MB/s, which no micro SD can touch).

    USB OTG works without root even, and I've been seeing small micro-sized flash drives with micro USB connectors if you really need something smaller than a regular flash drive + OTG cable dongle. The former are small enough to always leave plugged in, someone waseven running a kickstarter to sell one such drive.
  • Diorarat - Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - link

    Does it work with the N7? Didn't the 2012 N7 lack usb otg support?
  • darwinosx - Thursday, August 22, 2013 - link

    That made me laugh out loud. Get used to it. Even Samsung will be giving up on sd cards. Because they suck.
  • Impulses - Friday, August 23, 2013 - link

    I think there's still a case to be made for them, even though USB OTG works great for me I can see situations where it's not too suitable as an alternative, like when giving a tablet to a child.
  • ESC2000 - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    Do you just reflexively say anything sucks that apple products don't have?

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