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Well, short answer, the blending has to occur either way to correctly display the transparent corner pixels. However, this should typically only be an issue if you want the resulting view to also animate in some way (and remember, scrolling is the most common type of animation). Also, I'm able to recreate situations where "cornerRadius" will cause rendering errors on older devices (iPhone 3G in my case) when my views become complex. For situations where you do need performant animations, here are the recommendations I follow.
First, if you only need the resources with a single curve for the rounded corners (different scales are fine, as long as the desired curvature is the same), save them that way to avoid the extra calculation of "cornerRadius" at runtime.
Second, don't use transparency anywhere you don't need it (e.g. when the background is actually a solid color), and always specify the correct value for the "opaque" property to help the system more efficiently calculate the drawing.
Third, find ways to minimize the size of transparent views. For example, for a large border view with transparent elements (e.g. rounded corners), consider splitting the view into 3 (top, middle, bottom) or 7 (4 corners, top middle, middle, bottom middle) parts, keeping the transparent portions as small as possible and marking the rectangular portions as opaque, with solid backgrounds.
Fourth, in situations where you're drawing lots of text in scrollViews (e.g. highly customized UITableViewCell), consider using the "drawRect:" method to render these portions more efficiently. Continue using subviews for image elements, in order to split the render time between the overall view between pre-drawing (subviews) and "just-in-time" drawing (drawRect:). Obviously, experimentation (frames per second while scrolling) could show that violating this "rule-of-thumb" may be optimal for your particular views.
Finally, making sure you have plenty of time to experiment using the profiling tools (especially CoreAnimation) is key. I find that it's easiest to see improvements using the slowest device you want to target, and the results look great on newer devices.
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