Leaked Windows on ARM benchmarks show it failing to match smartphone performance

midian182

TechSpot Editor
Staff member

Last December Microsoft announced that a partnership with Qualcomm would see the creation of Windows 10 laptops powered by the chip maker's flagship Snapdragon 835 processor. The devices are supposed to offer exceptional battery life without any significant performance downgrade. But while the former appears true, there are some question marks over the latter claim.

German site Winfuture.de discovered leaked benchmarks on Geekbench’s website under the name Qualcomm CLS. There are numbers for 32-bit versions of both Windows 10 S and Windows 10 Pro, with some listings showing a device featuring 8GB of RAM and powered by an octa-core processor clocked between 1.9GHz and 2.2GHz. The highest score is 1202 for Geekbench’s single-core benchmark, while the multi-core score is 4068.

As noted by MSPowerUser, those figures are way below what an i3-8100 CPU can achieve in the same benchmarks: 3692 single-core and 11860 multi-core. What’s even more concerning is that they're also lagging behind Android devices powered by the same Snapdragon 835, which usually score over 2200 for single-core tests and have multi-core results over 7700.

To be fair to Microsoft, the numbers likely come from a pre-release machine that hasn’t been fully optimized, so the final devices—set to launch in the next few weeks—will almost certainly be an improvement.

The fact Windows on ARM uses emulation technology means it’s never going to match the performance of standard x86 processors, but the devices could still find a position in the market, especially if the price is right and claims of multi-day battery life turn out to be accurate.

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Kibaruk

TechSpot Paladin
As long as the software is optimized to the hardware, it could even score lower and still outperform a smartphone in reality (Heck, iPhones have used underpowered hardware and still work faster than a lot of Android phones), yet we won't know until it actually comes out.
 

Wagan8r

TS Evangelist
I'm not surprised at all. WoA is emulating the x86 instruction set, so you will see a big hit when running x86 programs. What would be more interesting is to see the UWP version as that will run natively on the ARM instruction set and would be more akin to an Android device running natively. There's a reason why Microsoft is only now going the emulation route since ARM processors from 5 years ago would have totally choked.
 

Vulcanproject

TS Evangelist
Snapdragon 835 isn't nearly as fast as a Core i3 8100?

Wow. Such amazing insight.

Pretty obvious that Windows is also never going to be as efficient as Android for ARM performance
 

enemys

TS Maniac
As long as the software is optimized to the hardware, it could even score lower and still outperform a smartphone in reality (Heck, iPhones have used underpowered hardware and still work faster than a lot of Android phones), yet we won't know until it actually comes out.
iPhone hardware is far from "underpowered" - these are some very potent, complex SoCs, just built differently than Android counterparts. They are easily leading over the rest in terms of GPU and single-threaded performance. Of course careful optimization is a part of the equation, but there's a reason why 6-core Apple A11 has about as many transistors, as a 15-core Xeon Ivy Bridge-EX CPU from a couple of years ago (and probably far more than current mainstream Intel CPUs). They are not the fastest in terms of multi-core performance, but their GPU and single-core prowess is remarkable, as is their efficiency.
 

ET3D

TechSpot Paladin
The results are around those of the Atom x7-Z8750 (a little better for multicore). This isn't anything to write home about, but it's certainly usable for a lot of things. With Intel out of the mobile low power race, having something which is already slightly better than what it has is a good start.

Also to be fair to MS, the following
here are numbers for 32-bit versions of both Windows 10 S and Windows 10 Pro, with some listings showing a device featuring 8GB of RAM
signifies this is either a very early build, or something isnt reporting properly. 32 bit windows cant address 8GB of RAM.
Just to be pedantic, 32 bit Windows can address 8GB of RAM. The 32 bit mode of the CPU does have access to a larger address space, it's just more complicated. Windows Server 2003 (32 bit) could use up to 64GB of RAM (in the Enterprise and Datacenter SKU's).

I think that 32-bit in this instance means that the emulation isn't compatible with 64-bit code, I.e., it only emulates the 32-bit mode of the CPU. This means that programs compiled for 64-bits won't run, and that each process will be able to access a maximum of 3GB (with 1GB for OS address space). Browsers these days use several processes, so they should have no problem taking advantage of more RAM, and running several programs at the same time should certainly be able to use the extra RAM.

There's a reason why Microsoft is only now going the emulation route since ARM processors from 5 years ago would have totally choked.
My guess is that it's also a matter of patent expiration.
 
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enemys

TS Maniac
"Just to be pedantic, 32 bit Windows can address 8GB of RAM."
It depends on what type of address you have in mind. It cannot address more than 4GB of virtual memory per process (system virtual memory must fit within it, too), but it can address more than 4GB of physical memory for the whole machine. It can then expose it to applications that use certain programming extensions or use it for certain operations, like memory caching. But even with these extensions no application can use more than 4GB of memory at the same time - it can only move it's memory window to see and use different parts of bigger physical memory, but these parts must fit within the virtual memory space. Since these extensions are seldom - if ever - used in regular applications (especially now, when 64-bit OSes are so common), the whole thing is mostly meaningless for a regular user, who is, in effect, still restricted to 4GB of memory on 32-bit OS.
 

Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
As long as the software is optimized to the hardware, it could even score lower and still outperform a smartphone in reality (Heck, iPhones have used underpowered hardware and still work faster than a lot of Android phones), yet we won't know until it actually comes out.
iPhone CPUs have crushed Androids in benchmarks not just because their software is optimized but because their CPUs are just plain faster.... the "a" line of CPUs outperfrom their Qualcomm equivalents.
 

dj2017

TS Maniac
If it offers smooth performance on office, internet, youtube and video playback, it will sell with the right price. And probably does.
 

Kibaruk

TechSpot Paladin
iPhone CPUs have crushed Androids in benchmarks not just because their software is optimized but because their CPUs are just plain faster.... the "a" line of CPUs outperfrom their Qualcomm equivalents.
Ok, just a clarification, while iPhones were working with Dual core processors clocked at 1.something ghz while medium range android phones were running on quad cores with 1,4 or 1,7 and still felt slower.
 

Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
Ok, just a clarification, while iPhones were working with Dual core processors clocked at 1.something ghz while medium range android phones were running on quad cores with 1,4 or 1,7 and still felt slower.
Cause they were... more cores and ghz they might have had... but the Apple CPUs were still better... kind of like comparing old AMD Bulldozers to Intel....
 

Kibaruk

TechSpot Paladin
Cause they were... more cores and ghz they might have had... but the Apple CPUs were still better... kind of like comparing old AMD Bulldozers to Intel....
I think it was all due to software optimizations more than the hardware itself, it's like comparing computer gaming to console gaming, consoles are very underpowered if you compare the hardware, but still will work and look better than computers on the same price range or even some more expensive (Unless you start going to the gaming computers).
 

Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
I think it was all due to software optimizations more than the hardware itself, it's like comparing computer gaming to console gaming, consoles are very underpowered if you compare the hardware, but still will work and look better than computers on the same price range or even some more expensive (Unless you start going to the gaming computers).
Benchmarks stated otherwise... if you check out the Geek scores, Apple CPUs score higher than their Qualcomm (and Exynos) competitors... yes, software optimization definitely helps as well - but Apple also happens to make better stuff...