If you were picking a winner between the Rockchip RK3188 and Freescale’s i.MX 6 in terms of product placement, you’d have to give it to the Rockchip option hands-down. The RK3188 has almost movie-star popularity at the moment appearing in almost every tablet or mini PC that gets released. The Freescale i.MX 6 while initially seeing some support has been less popular with tablet and mini PC makers since the launch of the Rockchip quad.
However, in terms of their specifications, things are less clear. Neither of them will trouble an Intel Core-series x86-architecture CPU for performance but between them, there are a number similarities.
First up, they’re both quad-core Cortex A9 SoC CPUs with 1MB of L2 cache. It also means they share the same ARMv7 instruction set.
The Cortex A9 design is now getting long in the tooth – Freescale announced its i.MX 6 back in January 2011 and its here now in 2013 that the i.MX 6 shows its age: it’s manufactured using a 40-nanometre production process.
Rockchip’s version of the same core isn’t anywhere near as old, only announced earlier this year. While ARM itself has moved onto newer core designs in the Cortex A15/A7, the A53 and the recently-announced A12, the A9 would these days be a more affordable option to license. Rockchip has take the A9 design and manufactured it on a smaller 28-nanometre scale. That means it not only runs cooler but uses less power, making for more efficient products.
Does it match an Apple A4, A5 or A6 for power consumption? Hard to say but so far, we’ve seen few Rockchip RK3188-powered devices claim ten hours battery life.
The other major difference here is the graphics engine – while Rockchip went for the tried-and-trusted quad-core ARM-designed Mali-400 MP4 GPU set, Freescale chose the Vivante GC2000. Based on testing from cnx-software.com, the two options used here offer strange results. On the AnTuTu tests, the Mali-400 MP4 clearly bests the GC2000, almost double the latter’s scores. However, in terms of raw GFLOPS, the GC2000 wins by 21.6GFLOPS to 7.2.
Another difference, which we think also comes down to the production scale is the RK3188 can hit 1.8GHz whereas the i.MX 6 tops out at 1.2GHz. That should not only leave the RK3188 a cooler CPU but also significantly faster as well.
Bottom line, while the two SoC CPUs are very similar in terms of their raw CPU design, the smaller-scale manufacture of the Rockchip variant not only gets it a higher clock speed but better electrical efficiency, which in our opinion makes it the better option in terms of basic processing ability.
|CPU||Rockchip RK3188||Freescale i.MX 6|
|Family Architecture||ARM Cortex A9||ARM Cortex A9|
|No of cores||4||4|
|Clock Speed||Up to 1.8GHz||Up to 1.2GHz|
|GPU||Mali-400 MP4||Vivante GC2000|
|Memory Support||DDR-DDR3||DDR3/LPDDR2 @ 533MHz|
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