October 4, 2013
Samsung Fakes It – Benchmark Scores That Is
A quick Google of “Apple A7 benchmarks” brings up headlines like “Apple’s iPhone 5S A7 Is A Benchmarking Beast,” “Apple’s 64-bit A7 Is No Gimmick,” and iPhone A7 Chip Benchmarks: Forget the Specs, It Blows Everything Away.”
Independent reviewers seem to agree; the A7 is a hell of a chip and is more than capable of standing on its own.
Samsung’s newer, larger chip, by the way, can’t perform this well.
In fact, in order to make it look like it performs better, Samsung employs some “shenanigans” to boost the chip’s clock speed when it knows it’s being benchmarked. It’s kind of like bringing in your best employees when you know the CEO will be touring your offices.
According to Ars Technica, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, that enormous eyesore of a phablet, benchmarked “puzzingly well” when compared to other devices with the same 2.3 GHz Snapdragon 800 chip. Specifically, LG’s Optimus G2 carries the same chip, but couldn’t compare to the Note 3’s results. After poking around a bit, Ars Technica said they discovered a high-power CPU mode used by Samsung devices when one of the more popular benchmarking apps (such as Geekbench) are being run on the device.
Here’s the kicker: This isn’t the first time Samsung has pulled such shenanigans. When they launched the International version of the S4 earlier this year, a report by Anand Lal Shimpi and Brian Klug found that the Exynos 5 Octa SoC was programmed to act the same way.
Ars Technica notes that though the S4 cheats were only found on international devices, this is the first time they’ve seen them used on a US-ready device.
It gets better.
Though Samsung wanted to fool those who wanted to benchmark their devices, they didn’t really think the entire process through. When Ars wanted to disable this little extra CPU mode, they found all they had to do was go into the app’s code and change the name from “Geekbench” to “Stealthbench.” That’s it. Simply by changing the name of the app, the bumbling, enormous Note 3 was fooled into giving up it’s true stats.
“The difference is remarkable. In Geekbench’s multicore test, the Note 3’s benchmark mode gives the device a 20 percent boost over its “natural” score,” reads Ars Technica’s review.
“With the benchmark boosting logic stripped away, the Note 3 drops down to LG G2 levels, which is where we initially expected the score to be, given the identical SoCs. This big of a boost means that the Note 3 is not just messing with the CPU idle levels; significantly more oomph is unlocked when the device runs a benchmark.”
With the benchmark boosting turned off, the Note 3 scores nearly on-par with the A7. AppleInsider used Geekbench 3 to test both the Note 3 and the iPhone 5S (with the A7 chip) and found the Apple phone scored 2431 to Samsung’s 2487. The higher number is better here. With the cheat on, the Note 3 scored 2986. Keep in mind Apple’s A7 is a 1.3 GHz, 1 GB RAM chip to the Snapdragon 800’s 2.3 GHz 2.3 GB. Sure, Apple probably over clocks their SoC to get these results, but at least they aren’t lying about it.
By the way, Geekbench tests have shown the 5S to score about six times higher than the 1 GHz A5 of the 4S. It also outshone all other iPhones, the HTC One and the Galaxy S4.