Samsung Suspected Of Manipulating Smartphones To Improve Benchmark Scores

/ 3 years ago


According to Anandtech Samsung has been caught red-handed in fiddling the way its phones work to maximise scores in particular benchmarking applications. The smartphone in question is the Samsung Galaxy S4, and more specifically the one that uses the Exynos 5 Octa chipset. This mobile CPU merges four ARM Cortex A15 cores (1.6GHz) and four ARM Cortex A7 cores (1.2GHz) in a “big.LITTLE” set-up. In an effort to gain an advantage Samsung engineered the phone so that when running particular benchmarks the GPU and CPU frequencies work in an abnormal way to maximise benchmark performance.

Apparently the GPU clock rises from 480MHz to 532MHz when running select benchmarks. Running the GLBenchmark 2.5.1 app in the background idle saw the phone switch to the more power-hungry Cortex A15 CPU cluster even when the phone is technically idle and not doing anything. Trying the same thing with any other benchmark application that isn’t on Samsung’s “cheat list” and the phone uses the low power Cortex A7 cluster instead. In theory the Samsung Galaxy S4 8 core version should always use the Cortex A7 clusters when idle or running low-intensity tasks.

Anandtech discovered similar behaviour with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 version of the Galaxy S4 where the frequency automatically rose to the maximum and held there even when the benchmarks aren’t running, only the apps have been launched. After investigation Anandtech discovered that a hardcoded profile is activated as soon as certain apps get launched triggering the hardware response, these apps in the profile include Quadrant standard, advanced, and professional, linpack free, Benchmark Pi, and AnTuTu.

In theory what Samsung are doing is nothing other than a “very application specific Turbo mode” but the fact they do not disclose that they do it is misleading. Furthermore it means that benchmark results won’t reflect the true performance of the phone because the phone is only that fast during particular benchmark runs.

Image courtesy of Samsung, Via ChipLoco

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