Recently PC Magazine published an article about the different processors used by smartphones, and how difficult it is to compare the performance of one device to another. Although the focus of this article is consumer-grade phones, it got me wondering about data collection devices. After all, Windows CE and Windows Mobile devices use ARM processors too.
What I've discovered is that it is just as difficult to compare data collections devices against each other as it is to compare phones. For example, the Motorola PC9500 runs a Marvell PXA320 at 806 MHz. Is that faster than the Intermec CN50 (the Spec Sheet simply says 'Main Processor ARM11 at 528 MHz)? Not necessarily - what instruction set does the PXA320 have? It's difficult to tell. How about the new Honeywell Dolphin 6100, which has a Marvell XScale PXA300 at 624 MHz?
For further confusion, check out this chart on Wikipedia which attempts to group the various processor families. Most Xscale processors are listed as ARMV5TE, but the PXA3xx series are not listed.
Another performance bottleneck to keep in mind is the speed of the Flash Memory store. Not all memory architectures perform the same, and there can be a significant difference in the speed (particularly the Write speed) from one device family to another. You won't find this information in a spec sheet.
What is the conclusion? Like the author of the original article, we find that you can not use the manufacturers specifications to compare the performance of one device to another very easily. For now you will have to rely on more subjective measurements.