Basemark X Creator Comments on Benchmark Cheating

Subject: Mobile | October 3, 2013 - 09:27 PM |
Tagged: Android, cheating, basemark x

Even if you haven't been paying attention to the world of mobile benchmarking over the past week you have likely heard about the now rampant cheating that is going on with Android testing.  Device makers are doing simple detection for benchmark applications and unrealistically changing the performance attributes of the SoC (CPU and GPU) to improve benchmark scores.  This does not represent the behavior that an end user would see in real-world usage but is intended only to move the device up to the top of benchmark graphs to gain attention and drive sales.

Long time PC enthusiasts will recognize this problem though thanks to the openness of the PC ecosystem that issue is largely removed as there are independent press and researchers keeping all parties honest. 

Anandtech (and many other outlets) are again discussing the issue of cheating in mobile testing, even going as far as creating a chart titled "I Can't Believe I Have to Make This Table" that shows which benchmarks are being compromised by which devices and OS configurations.  I highly suggest you check out the story by Anand and Brian to get more details on the state of cheating in mobile benchmarks. 

The creator of one of the affected benchmarks, Basemark X, contacted the media with some interesting comments I wanted share. 

It has come to our attention that Galaxy Note 3 may be targeting our benchmark, Basemark X.

Rightware’s mission is to provide trusted performance evaluation tools you can depend on. Therefore, we have produced an updated version of Basemark X that solves this issue.

basemarkx.png

I asked Tero Sarkkinen, founder of Rightware, what could be done to prevent this type of unfair performance skewing going forward. 

Basically every benchmark and application out there can be targeted by a new handset or tablet and no one can really prevent it. What makes a difference is will the benchmark vendor do something about it when this is recognized.

At Rightware, we take our mission seriously and we monitor day in and day out what is going on. As in this case, we noticed that Note 3 is targeting Basemark X, we immediately provided the press with a version that the handset is not able to detect.

We get thousands of benchmark results in every day to our Power Board http://results.rightware.com and therefore we have a pretty good idea of what's going on.

In other words, we are not sticking our heads into the sand.

While the sentiment that "no one can really prevent it" is disappointing to hear, it is what we expected and what we are planning for.  Sarkkinen is confident that Rightware is able to stay up on the situation and is going to keep pace with online media and analysts to make sure these hardware vendors are staying honest. 

It's the best news we have seen in a sea of disappointing information on mobility benchmarking this week.

Office 365 might not be great for enterprise but for BYOD it is looking interesting

Subject: General Tech | September 23, 2013 - 10:24 AM |
Tagged: office 365, microsoft, Android

While Enterprise admins are less than impressed with the new Office 365 model and the changes that are required to their environments to make this new product function correctly many SMBs, students and home users have a lot to be happy about.  Device sharing is going to be a big thing, with one license allowing you to use Office 365 on a variety of the devices you own.  Support on NVIDIA's Shield is still a rumour but compatibility with Android phones is much closer to reality.  There are workarounds you need to put into place in order to make most Android phones function correctly, which The Register kindly linked to in their article and you will need to hunt down the originally released Microsoft installation file which they have pulled but you will be able to use Office 365.  Hopefully you won't be trying to write long dissertations on your phone but reading and editing are quite possible.

office-365-logo.jpg

"Unlike the video editing or CAD workstation beasts that are still utterly reliant on Windows, Android is slowly evolving into a workable platform for basic productivity."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Google Quietly Dives into the Smartwatch Wars on a WIMM

Subject: Mobile | September 4, 2013 - 11:45 AM |
Tagged: wimm, smartwatch, google, Android

In an effort to bolster its own trek into the much-hyped smartwatch market, Google has acquired android smartwatch developer WIMM Labs. This may be new news to you, but this stealthy acquisition occurred well over a year ago, with most of the world none the wiser—WIMM casually shuttered its operations and alluded to an “exclusive, confidential relationship”—until tech news company, GigaOM leaked the details of the merger .

Since GigaOM spoke up, there has been a deluge of activity to back their claim: Investment bank Woodside Capital Partners posted an image practically screaming that they had assisted with the merger, and a number of WIMM employees are updating their online profiles to state that they now work for Google. The purchase of WIMM labs will give Google a massive edge in the upcoming smartphone wars and here is how:

Like many manufacturers of Android hardware, WIMM has implemented a unique ecosystem exclusive to its devices, but unlike most other manufacturers, the WIMM Micro App Store features an independent third party developer program; this means that much like Google’s own Play Store—the primary Android marketplace—that anyone with a great app idea can build a Google smartwatch-ready app. This added capability doesn’t just mean a few extra apps for your smartwatch, though. It also will allow app integration, so that alarm clock set up on your Android smartphone or tablet will buzz on your watch, your calendar will literally always be on hand, and your highly important notes will always be accessible. The WIMM/Google Micro Apps will also operate with unique independence from their phone and tablet-bases cousins. A Google Smartwatch Micro App could, for instance, remotely control your smartphone, enabling you to make phone calls, play music, or power down the device.

The Micro App Store is important, but the hardware and personnel benefits that came with the WIMM acquisition should not be ignored; any patents that WIMM owned are now at Google’s disposal, and with other tech giants, such as Apple looking for a reason to sue anybody for “stealing their ideas,” and with those patent troll companies still being a drain on legitimate business ventures, the WIMM patent portfolio could go a long way in protecting Google’s interests from the legal sharks. Also, the wealth of knowledge about the Micro App Store’s inner workings will go a long way in streamlining the Play Store/Micro App Store app integration process.

wimm.jpg

Image source: GigaOM

The WIMM acquisition proves that Google is dead serious about playing its hand in the smartwatch wars; consumers should be on the lookout for a “Google Nexus Smartwatch,” and seriously consider buying into the capabilities of such a device, and owning one themselves.

Source: GigaOM

Google Rolls Out JSS15Q OTA Update To Fix GPS and Multi-Touch Issues

Subject: General Tech | August 25, 2013 - 07:26 PM |
Tagged: tablet, ota update, nexus 7, gps, google, Android

Google’s new Nexus 7 was released in July with updated hardware and Android 4.3. One of the changes to the platform was the switch from the original Nexus 7’s Tegra 3 processor for a quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC. Qualcomm also built the GPS (and GLONASS) unit. Unfortunately, some users ran into issues with the GPS and touchscreen on the updated Nexus 7 due to software bugs.

In response, Google is rolling out an Over The Air (OTA) update to all new Nexus 7 devices. Among other minor bug fixes, the JSS15Q update resolves the GPS and multi-touch issues. Previously, the GPS would randomly drop the connection and a smaller number of users reported that touching the screen would initiate screen presses at multiple (unintended) areas of the screen on a shared axis from the actual touch point.

Updated Google Nexus 7 Android Jelly Bean Tablet.jpg

AnandTech reports that the JSS15Q update, which is being slowly rolled out to all of the 2013 edition Nexus 7 devices, has resolved the GPS issue. The XDA Developers site further reports that the update addresses the mult-itouch and user data eMMC corruption bugs.

Nexus 7 users can either wait for the JSS15Q update or flash the device with an updated Google-provided  ROM.

Source: Anandtech

LG Launches Enact Smartphone With Physical Sliding Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2013 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: verizon, smartphone, physical keyboard, LG, enact, Android

LG recently launched a new slider smartphone called the Enact on the US Verizon network. The new smartphone pairs low-to-midrange hardware with a physical keyboard and Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean.

The LG Enact measures 4.37” x 2.06” x 0.62” and weighs 5.99 ounces. A black chassis surrounds a 4” touchscreen display with a resolution of 800 x 400 and front-facing VGA webcam. A physical keyboard slides out from the left side of the phone and a 5MP camera (with auto-focus) is located on the back of the smartphone along with a LED flash. The keyboard’s five row layout includes full qwerty and a top number row along with arrow keys in the bottom-right corner.

LG Enact Verizon Android Smartphone.jpg

Internal specifications include a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8930 SoC, 8GB of internal storage, wireless radios, and a 2,460 mAH Li-ion battery. The MSM8930 SoC includes a dual core ARM CPU clocked at 1.2GHz and a Adreno 305 GPU. Wireless functionality includes 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS. The smartphone runs Android 4.1.2.

The LG Enact has a full retail price of $349.99, and a subsidized price of $19.99 with a 2 year contract through the Verizon website. The smartphone has modest specifications and an older version of Google’s mobile operating system, but it does offer up a physical keyboard and is the latest in an increasingly rare product type.

Source: Verizon
Author:
Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: Quakecon

The Densest 2.5 Hours Imaginable

John Carmack again kicked off this year's Quakecon with an extended technical discussion about nearly every topic bouncing around his head.  These speeches are somewhat legendary for the depth of discussion on what are often esoteric topics, but they typically expose some very important sea changes in the industry, both in terms of hardware and software.  John was a bit more organized and succinct this year by keeping things in check with some 300 lines of discussion that he thought would be interesting for us.
 
Next Generation Consoles
 
John cut to the chase and started off the discussion about the upcoming generation of consoles.  John was both happy and sad that we are moving to a new generation of products.  He feels that they really have a good handle on the optimizations of the previous generation of consoles to really extract every ounce of performance and create some interesting content.  The advantages of a new generation of consoles are very obvious, and that is particularly exciting for John.
 
31978_06_pre_orders_for_next_gen_xbox_one_controllers_and_headsets_now_open_full.jpg
 
The two major consoles are very, very similar.  There are of course differences between the two, but the basis for the two are very much the same.  As we well know, the two consoles feature APUs designed by AMD and share a lot of similarities.  The Sony hardware is a bit more robust and has more memory bandwidth, but when all is said and done, the similarities outweigh the differences by a large margin.  John mentioned that this was very good for AMD, as they are still in second place in terms of performance from current architectures as compared to Intel and their world class process technology.
 
Some years back there was a thought that Intel would in fact take over the next generation of consoles.  Larrabee was an interesting architecture in that it melded x86 CPUs with robust vector units in a high speed fabric on a chip.  With their prowess in process technology, this seemed a logical move for the console makers.  Time has passed, and Intel did not execute on Larrabee as many had expected.  While the technology has been implemented in the current Xeon Phi product, it has never hit the consumer world.
 

CompuLab Launches SFF Utilite PC Powered By Quad Core ARM Processor

Subject: General Tech, Systems | July 14, 2013 - 08:51 PM |
Tagged: utilite, ubuntu, silent, SFF, linux, fanless, cortex-a9, compulab, arm, Android

CompuLab has announced a new fanless, small form factor PC called the Utilite. This new PC comes from the same company that engineered the MintBox, MintBox 2, and Fit PC series. The Utilite is a low-power desktop PC powered by a quad core ARM Cortex A9 processor and runs either Ubuntu Linux or Google’s Android operating system.

The upcoming Utilite measures 5.3” x 3.9” x 0.8”(135 x 100 x 21mm) and consumes anywhere between 3W and 8W of power depending on the particular hardware configuration. It is designed to be a quiet desktop replacement with plenty of IO.

Compulabs Utilite ARM Desktop PC.jpg

CompuLab will provide single core, dual core, and quad core CPU SKUs. Specifically, the Utilite is powered by a Freescale i.MX6 ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor that is clocked at up to 1.2 GHz. Users will be able to further configure the system with up to 4GB of DDR3 1066 MHz memory and a 512GB mSATA SSD. Storage can be further expanded using Micro SD-XC cards (maximum of 128GB per card). The GPU in the SoC is compatible with OpenGL ES 1.1 and 2.0 as well as OpenVG 1.1 and OpenCL EP. It is capable of hardware decoding multi-stream 1080p video in a variety of common formats.

Wireless functionality includes an 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi card and Bluetooth 3.0.

Compulabs Utilite ARM Desktop PC Cortex-A9 MPCore.jpg

The Utilite has a dark gray case with silver front and rear bezels.

The front of the Utilite PC features the following IO options in addition to the power button and indicator LEDs.

  • 1 x USB OTG (Micro USB)
  • 1 x RS232 (ultra mini serial connector)
  • 1 x Micro SD card slot
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x 3.5mm audio jacks (line in, line out)

The rear of the PC hosts:

  • 1 x DC power input
  • 1 x Wi-Fi antenna
  • 1 x RS232 (ultra mini serial connector)
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 jacks
  • 2 x HDMI video outputs

According to fanless PC guru FanlessTech, CompuLab will be releasing the ARM-powered Utilite mini PC next month with a starting price of $99 and a variety of SKUs with varying amounts of CPU cores, memory, and storage. The Utilite PC is a bit on the expensive side, but this is a system for industrial and enterprise use as well as consumers, and Olivier from FanlessTech notes that build quality should be on par with those goals/industry aims.

Source: Utilite

HTC Releases Q2 2013 Results, Better than Q1 But Still Down YoY

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 6, 2013 - 01:13 AM |
Tagged: htc, financial results, Android

Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC has released financial results for its Q2 2013. All things considered, HTC had a good quarter, but it is still far from reaching the performance of the prior year.

HTC had quarterly revenue of approximately $2.35 billion (NT $70.7 billion), net income of $41.5 million (NT $1.25 billion), and Earnings Per Share (EPS) of $0.05 (NT $1.50).

HTC One Android Smartphone.jpg

The previous quarter (Q1'13) saw HTC achieve revenue of $1.42 billion (NT $42.8 billion), net profit of $2.82 million (NT $85 million), and EPS of $.003 (NT $0.10). The company's HTC One smartphone is likely a contributor to the improved performance QoQ.

Year over Year (YoY), HTC is still down quite a bit. In Q2 of 2012, HTC had revenue of $3.02 billion (NT $91.04 billion), net profit of $245.6 million (NT $7.4 billion), and EPS of $0.30 (NT $8.90). The following chart shows the figures in USD in a handy table.

  Q2 2013 Q1 2013 Q2 2012
Revenue $2.35 Billion $1.42 Billion $3.02 Billion
Net Income $41.5 Million $2.82 Million $245.6 Million
Earnings Per Share $0.05 $0.003 $0.30

YoY, HTC's Q2 revenue is down about 22% while net profit and EPS are both down about 83% respectively. The recent financial report is not all bad news, however. HTC is recovering from its fall and saw a positive increase over the first quarter of 2013 with 65.5% higher quarterly revenue. Profit and EPS also saw a massive jump over the previous quarter. The HTC announcement did not include and outlook for investors, but the company is refocusing on quality hardware and had a positive quarter.

Source: HTC

Sony Xperia Z Ultra 6.4" Smartphone Coming Later This Year

Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2013 - 08:52 AM |
Tagged: xperia z, xperia, triluminos, sony, Android

Sony has a new smartphone on the way called the Xperia Z Ultra. This 6.4” tablet-sized smartphone uses high end hardware and will be available in Q3 2013.

The Xperia Z Ultra measures 17.9 cm x 9.2 cm x 0.65 cm and weighs in at 212 grams (approximately 0.47 lbs). The front of the device is dominated by a large 6.4” Triluminos display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080p (342 PPI). Users will be able to use touch or a capacitive stylus to interact with the screen. The back of the smartphone includes an 8MP camera (no flash). The chassis is IP55 and IP58 rated as being dust resistant and waterproof.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra Smartphone with Triluminos Display.jpg

Hardware.info was able to get some hands-on time with the upcoming Sony phablet.

Internally, the Xperia Z Ultra features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoC clocked at 2.2 GHz along with Adreno 330 graphics, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and support for microSD cards. Wireless radios include 4G, NFC, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. A 3,000 mAh battery provides power to the smartphone, which Sony rates at 14 hours of usage per full charge. It will run Google's Android operating system.

Hardware.info managed to get some hands on time with the Xperia Z Ultra, and it looks like a promising device. The crew stated that the display had some of the best viewing angles they have seen on Sony devices, for example. According to the site, Sony will be releasing the Xperia Z Ultra in the third quarter of this year for 719 Euros, which works out to about $940 USD. However, keep in mind that if/when the smartphone does come to the US, it will likely be subsidized to a much lower price point.

Computex 2013: Toshiba Unveils Tegra 4 Powered 10.1" Excite Write Tablet

Subject: Mobile | June 4, 2013 - 04:19 AM |
Tagged: toshiba excite write, toshiba, tegra 4, computex 2013, computex, Android

Computex Taipei is not only about gaming notebooks, desktops, and PC components; it is also about tablets!

One such tablet to make its debut at Computex 2013 is the Excite Write from Toshiba. It is a 10.1" dockable tablet with a touchscreen, 8MP rear camera, Harmon Kardon audio, and best of all, an active Wacom digitizer with 1024 pressure sensitivity levels. The 10.1" Gorilla Glass 2 touchscreen has an impressive resolution of 2560 x 1600, which is the same resolution as Google's Nexus 10 tablet. The Write tablet can be docked with the same keyboard case/dock that the Toshiba Excite Pro uses. The Excite Write runs Android 4.2 and comes pre-loaded with Toshiba's TruNote and TruCapture note taking applications.

Toshiba Excite Write Tablet With Wacom Digitizer.jpg

Internally, the Excite is powered by a quad core NVIDIA Tegra 4 SoC and 32GB of internal storage (can be expanded with a microSD card),

Toshiba will begin selling the 10.1" Excite Write for $600 next month. Providing the build quality is up to par, it looks like a decent option for students wanting something lightweight but capable, especially with more class material moving online or to eBook formats.

Read more about Tegra 4 at PC Perspective!

Source: Engadget