Sony NGP processor performance

We dig into what makes Sony's NGP tick.

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Sony's recently announced NGP contains a quad-core ARM Cortex A9 CPU and a PowerVR SGX543MP4+ GPU. Both chips are fairly new on the block, and Sony didn't elaborate too much on the exact configuration or clock speed of the chips involved. We dug up the base specs on both chips, but we don't know exactly how they're going to be configured inside of the NGP.

Sony NGP
Sony NGP

Quad-Core Cortex A9
Based on ARM's publicly provided Cortex A9 CPU specs, we know the chip can be configured in single, dual, and quad-core varieties. We've reached out to ARM for specifics, but it has yet to respond. Based on its spec sheets, the dual-core variant comes in two flavors, optimized for either power or performance. The power-optimized chip lowers the clock speed to 800MHz, which results in 4,000 DMIPS of computational power and .5W of power consumption. The performance-optimized version bumps the speed up to 2GHz, and the computational power jumps to 10,000 DMIPS with 1.9W of power consumption. Assuming a linear scaling of performance, the ARM Cortex A9 with four cores could perform anywhere between 8,000 and 20,000 DMIPS. By comparison, the iPad, which is based off of the 1GHz Cortex A8, has roughly 2,000 DMIPS of computational power.

PowerVR SGX543MP+
Imagination Technologies makes the PowerVR SGX543MP4+. However, we can find information only on the PowerVR SGX543MP at the moment. We've reached out to Imagination Technologies for comment, but it has yet to respond. Apple is also rumored to be using a variant of the PowerVR SGX543 chip for the upcoming revision of the iPad.

The normal nomenclature model for the PowerVR SGX543MP contains additional numbers following the MP that indicate the number of cores onboard. Imagine Technologies can configure the GPU to have 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16 cores. Sony opted to use the SGX543MP4+, which indicates that the chip has four cores. We have no details on what the "+" indicates.

Imagine Technologies states: "At 200MHz core frequency an SGX543MP4 (four cores) will deliver 133 million polygons per second and fill rates in excess of 4Gpixels/sec. Higher frequencies or a larger number of cores each deliver more performance. At 400MHz core frequency an SGX543MP8 (eight cores) will deliver 532 million polygons per second and fill rates in excess of 16Gpixels/sec."

Assuming the chip hasn't been highly modified from the PowerVR SGX543MP4, a 200MHz PowerVR SGX543MP4+ could live up to the PlayStation 3's 4.4Gpixel/s fill rate spec. We also have to add that raw fill rate numbers rarely translate into real-world performance.

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