iPad 3 Performance

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    I have received some reports of disappointing performance of Procoding on the “new iPad” (also known as the iPad 3).

    While many people think that a newer device must be faster than an older model, this is not necessarily true: you have to know that the doubled size of the HighDPI screen comes for a cost: dealing with a doubled screen size requires four times more processing power:

    1,024 x 768 = 786,432    // number of all pixels on screen on the iPad2
    2,048 x 1,536 = 3,145,728  // number of all pixes on screen on the new iPad
    3,145,728 / 786,432 = 4   // four times as much pixes

    Now the A5 chip has four times as much power, but the new iPad only has twice the RAM of an iPad2 (512 vs 1024 MB). That’s a bottleneck and in relation to the screen size a similar value to the 256 MB for the iPad1.

    Now, let’s look at the new A5 chip with quadrupled performance: AFAIK only graphics accelerated technologies can really use the full power of this chip. In practice that means that you get a noticeable speed bump and faster processing on the new iPad for graphics accelerated apps like 3D games or OpenGL content including WebGL and some modern CSS animations, translations and transitions. But if you’re looking at plain canvas based pixel-animated 2D content or third party apps that use web-views, the performance should be considerably slower than on an iPad 2.

    Additionally to the retina issues, it’s also known that the JavaScript performance is worse on the iPad3 than on the iPad2 (for third-party apps). For Mobile Safari Apple uses the Nitro engine to compile JavaScript code before excecution which is sadly not available for Web-Apps or App-Developers. That means, that all Web-Apps (working internally with a WebView) and 2D drawing apps are slower on the iPad3 than they are on the iPad2.

    The solution to this is probably a change of mind: I think you cannot automatically conclude that the new iPad is faster than the iPad 2 (in everything). You should rather think of it as a device with a crispier screen.

    While I’m working hard to improve the performance on the new iPad, all I can really do for now is to enable an option to switch off the Retina rendering to speed things up.


    Here’s a good background article from the HTML5 and iOS experts from Sencha Labs that explains some of these problems in depth:

    “We’re usually effusive about the latest mobile browser and hardware from Apple. But this latest offering is a mixed bag at best and a disappointment at worst. For the last few years, we’ve grown accustomed to Apple leapfrogging the competition each year with superior hardware and even better HTML5 browser software. The latest set of Apple hardware has regressions compared to the iPad 2 including slower JavaScript performance. (…) While we believe that the iPad is still the best tablet in the market, it’s the first time a new Apple product hasn’t categorically outshone its predecessor.”

    It would help if Apple finally gave us WebGL and the ability for 3rd party apps to access the Nitro engine. Because the technology would be there to speed things up.

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