Is there any way to accelerate iPad simulator's OpenGL performance?
iPad simulator is too slow to test OpenGL graphics. Is there any way to make it faster?
In my experience, the iPad Simulator has almost always been faster than running on an actual device. On my early 2010 i7 MacBook Pro, the Simulator has been significantly faster than the iPhone 4 and iPad 1 with almost every OpenGL ES application I've developed.
The Simulator does appear to do software-based simulation of certain iOS hardware features, particularly in the area of shaders. If you have a shader-heavy OpenGL ES 2.0 application, you can see a significant drop-off in performance when running in the Simulator.
In particular, the Simulator can't match the rendering speed of the iPad 2 when it comes to fill-rate-limited OpenGL ES applications, because the iPad 2 has a GPU that excels at this.
Beyond telling you to buy a faster computer, there's nothing that can be done to speed up the Simulator. As long as it has to simulate certain operations in software, you're going to get a little slower performance when doing certain types of rendering when compared to the very latest iOS devices. You're welcome to file an enhancement request at http://bugreport.apple.com to ask for performance improvements, but I don't know how much better the team at Apple can make this. They seem fairly conscious of performance issues from what I've seen.
As always, the Simulator should be used to test if something works at all, and all actual fine-tuning and anything else performance related should be done on actual hardware. I've found that the build-install-test cycle on the iPad 2 was almost as fast as dealing with the Simulator when I was developing my last application.