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Report: Samsung removes benchmark optimization code from Android 4.4

updated 07:18 pm EST, Wed March 5, 2014

Code allowed for benchmark manipulation by removing CPU throttling limitation

Samsung may have learned its lesson from the benchmark inflation affair, with a report suggesting the latest software updates from the company gives a more accurate result of a device's capabilities. Code relating to optimizing the processor of the company's smartphones in earlier releases of Android customized for the devices appears to be missing in Android 4.4 updates, which could be a sign it has been removed completely.

A report in July last year claimed the GPU in the Galaxy S4 was clocked at 480MHz when running applications, yet a popular benchmarking utility saw it raised to 532MHz. A similar test for the processor found equally-concerning optimizations, and a later code examination found that the software on the device checked to see if specific benchmark applications were being run, altering parameters in each case. The smartphones appeared to limit the processor speed under normal use, possibly an attempt to preserve the device by not causing any extra unwanted heat, but removed the limits when benchmarks were in use.

Samsung Galaxy S4
Samsung Galaxy S4


Ars Technica reports that its testing of the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 on Android 4.3 showed the smartphones running at their maximum possible speeds when benchmarks are running, with a lower clock speed offered when other applications were used or the device was idling. Updating to Android 4.4. "After applying the KitKat update, none of the apps behave any differently from any other application," said the report, continuing "Most of the time, the CPU cores are running at lower frequencies, and individual cores are often turned off. While running the tests, the CPUs approach their maximum clock speeds but are allowed to fluctuate as they would under actual use rather than staying artificially inflated."

Inflating benchmark scores provides little in the way of benefit to the end user, as it gives an unrealistic performance gauge of a device, and can possibly influence review scores for the devices. In November, Futuremark fought back against manipulated review scores, by delisting devices with suspicious results from both Samsung and HTC, though both companies were able to appeal against the decision.




by MacNN Staff

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