This article does a good job comparing these two chips as well as the AmLogic Single Core A9 that is being used a fair bit as well.
I don't agree with the article's final rankings (slight difference of opinion... for the most part I do agree). I will say, it convinced me not to bother with the AmLogic A9 chip. IMHO AmLogic really shot themselves in the foot with that chipset by neutering its L2 cache and building it on a "hot running, power eating" 65 nm process. In chipset design, you want more L2 cache (think of it as being really really really fast ram for chipset level operations... someone feel free to correct me on this if I am wrong... so the more of it you have, the more stuff gets done quickly) and you smaller "process"? Basically, how "big" are the circuits on the chip. The smaller they are, the faster the chip can run while consuming less power and not getting as hot. So, for those who are, imho, crazy enough to actually want to overclock a mobile chipset, you want smaller process size. So, AmLogic going A9 and using a Mali-400 GPU are the two saving graces, but they don't do enough. AmLogic did too much damage in the way they designed the chip to begin with and as a result produced a rather mediocre product as far as China Tab chips go.
This little write-up isn't going to deal with the AmLogic chipset though. I am going to focus on the RK2918 and the Allwinner A10.
I recently Acquired a Cube U9GT2 and an Onda Vi40 Elite.
The Cube uses the RK2918 processor.
The Onda Vi40 Elite.
This is utterly unscientific at this point as I have not run any benchmarks between the two, that might come later. First, I will talk about specs on both of these SoC's and then I will get into which is the better buy and why based on my user experience and how I see the current market. So without further ado, in this corner...
RockChip RK2918 (Cube U9GT2 for Reference)
1.0 Ghz (most common and probably most stable speed)
and in the other corner...
Allwinner/Boxchip/SoChip A10 (They are all the same company I think? Onda Vi40 Elite for reference)
Mali 400 GPU
Those are very similar sounding chipsets aside from the GPU... And, as far as performance goes, at least in my experience, the same thing can be said. They are very similar except for Graphics performance. I think the A10 chipset also is better at power management because it has dedicated co-processors specifically for power management. Furthermore, some variants of the RK2918 are higher voltage and some are lower voltage. Usually the higher voltage chips are in bigger tablets (like the 9.7" models) and the Cube U9GT2 is an example of this. Higher voltage generally means higher power draw. As far as I am aware though, all A10 chips are low voltage.
Both chips were designed with Video Playback in mind and Rockchip in particular has a lot of experience in building chipsets for media playback in general. That being said, I think the RK2918 might edge out the A10 a bit in compatability. You will see it decode more file types in hardware than perhaps the A10. As I said though, this is utterly unscientific. This has been the "feel" that I get and my experience thus far with the two processors. Now, the A10 is much much more powerful for video processing. They advertised the Novo 7 Advanced (the first tablet that I am aware of to feature the A10) as being able to hardware decode 2048p video and output that through HDMI. And lo' and behold I think it actually WASN'T just marketing hype because several people tested 1080p 3D video playback and the chipset could handle it. (1080 in 3D is two separate video streams playing at the same time so it would effectively be 2048p.) So, while RK2918 might have an edge in compatability, the A10 still wins for brute force.
UI performance - The two chips are pretty much tied I think. However, in my experience with several different tablet models featuring both chipsets... the A10 seems to be more consistent as far as providing smooth UI performance. RK2918 parts however tend to fluctuate. Most of the newer tabs I have seen with the RK2918 though tend to have very smooth performance.
Web Browsing Speed - So here was the test, I have both my Cube U9GT2 and my Onda Vi40 Elite in front of me. I typed in Ebay, Amazon, Slatedroid, and CG talk and tested load times simultaneously on each for each website (I pressed the enter key on the soft keyboard at the same time). The RK2918 was a tiny tiny smidge faster on several site, and the A10 was a smidge faster on a smaller number of site. This one was a tie.
Web Browsing - Pinch-to-Zoom - A10 won this one, it isn't perfect, but it is smoother than the RK2918. It isn't a huge difference but it is noticeable when they are side by side.
Stability - Rockchip wins this competition. Specifically referencing the Onda Vi40 vs the Cube U9GT2 - There is NO difference. They both seem pretty much rock solid, no freezing, no crashing. HOWEVER, in the greater android Tablet-Sphere (I just made that word up) I have had much better luck with RK2918 devices as far as quality control and stability goes at the chipset level. Let me reiterate, we are talking about chipsets and I am talking about firmware/chipset level stuff irregardless of the rest of the tablet. The Wopad I7 had some of the worst build quality of any tablet I had sold, but the software was rock-solid. The Momo 9C and Novo 7 Advanced were/are both very well designed and well built units. They are also both performance/gaming monsters. However, as a vendor, I have had more returns on those units than any of my other models. Most often for problems like... random frequent crashing that wasn't fixed by firmware re-flashing & Wifi instability. I think, these are both a testament to Allwinner quality control and/or Allwinner firmware bugginess. With that being said, all of the new Ainol tablets (the Elf, the Aurora) and my more recent batches of Ployer Momo 9's have been just fine. But, as it stands, I give the stability crown to Rockchip.
GPU Performance - A10, A10, and yes A10... The Vivante GC800 GPU CANNOT KEEP UP WITH THE MALI-400. This is where I differ with the review in the link I referenced above. They mention that the Vivante GC800/RK2918 combo does better for gaming than the Mali-400 because the GC800 has a much higher clock-speed than the Mali.... This just isn't the case at all though. The Vivante GC800 is decent, but when you are dealing with a 1024x768 or for that matter even a 1024x600 display, it cannot keep up with the Mali-400. Why? Piss-poor 2D rendering is one reason... so games that use large textures (all that pretty stuff) really will start to choke. That means really advanced 2D titles will/could possibly lag although I haven't done much testing in this area. (I think this is in part why even the Android UI on high resolution devices using the RK2918 can sometimes stutter a bit, this might just be poor firmware though too...)
What games have I looked at? Two titles in particular... Shadow Gun & Dead Space... Both of which are extremely graphically advanced titles for Android. I wondered if the Mali-400 would be able to push them at 1024x768. It does, and it does so very very smoothly. The Vivante GC800 will also play them, but they are "chunky" with a low frame-rate. Playable? yes... enjoyable... well, not so much. Also, for Shadow Gun, there is a major graphical anomaly on devices using GC800 GPUs that basically causes the textures on the characters to look all warped and twisted. If you watch heavy gunner being played on the Cube U9GT2, you will see what I am talking about (notice the player character's arm).You will also see that it is very very chunky and the game stutters quite a bit.
Lets talk a bit more about the Mali-400 and why it is so cool and superior for gaming... First, I only recently found this out, but it was actually developed BY ARM. The same folks that develop the reference designs for mobile chipsets that most every else buys rights for and bases their chipsets on. So you have probably heard it said, XYZ Chip is a "Cortex-A8" or the Tegra II is a Dual-Core Cortex-A9.... "Cortex-A8/9" (or for older chipsets, "ARM 11") has to do with what ARM Reference design the chip was built around. So, ARM recently also designed the Mali-400 which also adheres closely to a "mobile standard" that, in the coming months, will make the chipset one of the most compatible for games. The Mali-400 is ALSO used by chip/tablet making giant Samsung in their latest flagship Exynos II SoC. So, even better, is that this will help strong arm PIA (Pain in the Arse) developers like Gameloft to actually develop according to a standard rather than continuing to do their own crap. If you ever wonder why their games only work on a narrow margin of Android devices it is because their devs do things to make their games work better on specific and more proprietary GPU's, specifically the PowerVR chipsets. Why do they do this? Because they are primarily an Apple game developer and Apple chipsets use the PowerVR GPU. So, with Samsung transitioning towards a standard by using the Mali-400, developers like Gameloft will start developing according to that standard if they want to sell games that work on the most popular devices. So... the reason for that rabbit trail... The A10 Chipset is going to be more compatible with more High-End games over the next year because it is similar to the Exynos II in that it uses a Mali-400 GPU. The Exynos II is still a much much faster (and more expensive) chipset, so I am certainly not equating the two. What I am saying is that the Mali-400 GPU is an absolute beast of a processor and it is also going to be a standard for devs who want their games to work on the best devices which means folks that are using an A10 processor, will probably have better luck with game compatibility in the long run.
The RK2918 and the A10 are somewhat evenly matched. But I think, and my experience definitely holds true for this, that the A10 has a significantly more powerful GPU and it affects the entire system and will continue to do so as the GPU is relied upon more heavily as hardware acceleration is becoming the standard for everything. If you already bought an RK2918 powered device, don't feel bad about your purchase. It is a solid platform, reliable, and does provide decent performance.
However, if you are currently "looking"... My 2-cents is don't bother with the RK2918. The A10 is either matched or better than this chipset and I think it is actually the cheaper of the two however, probably not enough to influence the final price a device manufacturer sticks on their tablet. The prices are comparable though and there really is no reason to buy an RK2918 powered device at this point as their are a plethora of options using the A10.
I look forward to everyone's thoughts
This post has been edited by Roman2025: 24 March 2012 - 01:13 PM