Last week, we talked to you at some length about the problem with benchmark tests, and why they aren’t very useful as real-world indicators of phone performance. We touched upon the warning that some manufacturers have been spotted gaming the benchmark system, tweaking the performance of their devices in order to deliver inflated results. A new report accuses Samsung of just such deception, artificially boosting system performance when benchmarks are being run.
Analysis of Galaxy S 4 behavior revealed that when certain benchmark apps are run, the Exynos-based version of the phone boosts its GPU clock speed from 480MHz – the max speed it runs at for every other app and game – to 532MHz, a speed solely reserved for benchmark apps. It also swaps over to its A15 cores when such an app is running, clocked all the way up.
The Snapdragon version of the hardware also dials its CPU cores way up (and really, we want to be testing full performance anyway), but doesn’t do any GPU trickery.
Delving into system files appears to confirm this intentional behavior, with references to a “BenchmarkBooster” and a list of specific benchmark apps selected for this treatment – benchmarks that don’t make this cut perform like any other app.
We might let that CPU business slide, but the secret nature of these optimizations, and especially that GPU behavior, is not painting Samsung in a very favorable light.