Subject: Processors, Mobile | September 9, 2018 - 04:50 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: p20 pro, Kirin 970, Kirin, Huawei
Last week the gang at Anandtech posted a story discovering systematic cheating by Huawei in smartphone benchmarks. In its story, AT focused on 3DMark and GFXBench, looking at how the Chinese-based silicon and phone provider was artificially increasing benchmark scores to gain an advantage in its battles with other smartphone providers and SoC vendors like Qualcomm.
As a result of that testing, UL Benchmarks (who acquired Futuremark) delisted several Huawei smartphones from 3DMark, taking the artificial scores down from the leaderboards. This puts the existing device reviews in question while also pulling a cloud over the recently announced (and impressive sounding) Kirin 980 SoC meant to battle with the Snapdragon 845 and next-gen Qualcomm product. The Kirin 980 will be the first shipping processor to integrate high performance Arm Cortex-A76 cores, so the need to cheat on performance claims is questionable.
Just a day after this story broke, UL and Huawei released a joint statement that is, quite honestly, laughable.
"In the discussion, Huawei explained that its smartphones use an artificial intelligent resource scheduling mechanism. Because different scenarios have different resource needs, the latest Huawei handsets leverage innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence to optimize resource allocation in a way so that the hardware can demonstrate its capabilities to the fullest extent, while fulfilling user demands across all scenarios.
To somehow assert that any kind of AI processing is happening on Huawei devices that is responsible for the performance differences that Anandtech measured is at best naïve and at worst straight out lying. This criticism is aimed at both Huawei and UL Benchmarks – I would assume that a company with as much experience in performance evaluation would not succumb to this kind of messaging.
After that AT story was posted, I started talking with the team that builds Geekbench, one of the most widely used and respected benchmarks for processors on mobile devices and PCs. It provides a valuable resource of comparative performance and leaderboards. As it turns out, Huawei devices are exhibiting the same cheating behavior in this benchmark.
Below I have compiled results from Geekbench that were run by developer John Poole on a Huawei P20 Pro device powered by the Kirin 970 SoC. (Private app results, public app results.) To be clear: the public version is the application package as downloaded from the Google Play Store while the private version is a custom build he created to test against this behavior. It uses absolutely identical workloads and only renames the package and does basic string replacement in the application.
Clearly the Huawei P20 Pro is increasing performance on the public version of the Geekbench test and not on the private version, despite using identical workloads on both. In the single threaded tests, the total score is 6.5% lower with the largest outlier being in the memory performance sub-score, where the true result is 14.3% slower than the inaccurate public version result. Raw integer performance drops by 3.7% and floating-point performance falls by 5.6%.
The multi-threaded score differences are much more substantial. Floating point performance drops by 26% in the private version of Geekbench, taking a significant hit that would no doubt affect its placement in the leaderboards and reviews of flagship Android smartphones.
Overall, the performance of the Huawei P20 Pro is 6.5% slower in single threaded testing and 16.7% slower in multi-threaded testing when the artificial score inflation in place within the Huawei customized OS is removed. Despite claims to the contrary, and that somehow an AI system is being used to recognize specific user scenarios and improve performance, this is another data point to prove that Huawei was hoping to pull one over on the media and consumers with invalid performance comparisons.
Some have asked me why this issue matters; if the hardware is clearly capable of performance like this, why should Huawei and HiSilicon not be able to present it that way? The higher performance results that 3DMark, GFXBench, and now Geekbench show are not indicative of the performance consumers get with their devices on real applications. The entire goal of benchmarks and reviews is to try to convey the experience a buyer would get for a smartphone, or anything else for that matter.
If Huawei wanted one of its devices to offer this level of performance in games and other applications, it could do so, but at the expense of other traits. Skin temperature, battery life, and device lifespan could all be impacted – something that would definitely affect the reviews and reception of a smartphone. Hence, the practice of cheating in an attempt to have the best of both.
The sad part about all of this is that Huawei’s flagship smartphones have been exceptional in nearly every way. Design, screen quality, camera integration, features; the Mate and P-series devices have been excellent representations of what an Android device can be. Unfortunately, for enthusiasts that follow the market, this situation will follow the company and cloud some of those positives.
Today’s data shows that the story of Huawei and benchmarks goes beyond just 3DMark and GFXBench. We will be watching this closely to see how Huawei responds and if any kinds of updates to existing hardware are distributed. And, as the release of Kirin 980 devices nears, you can be sure that testing and evaluation of these will get a more scrutinizing eye than ever.
Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2018 - 12:11 PM | Alex Lustenberg
Tagged: Z-NAND, video, Samsung, project trillium, podcast, p20 pro, nuc, msi, Lenovo, Jedi Challenges, Intel 8th Gen, Intel, Huawei, H370, gigabyte, fractal design, Bloody Gaming, asus, apple, adata
PC Perspective Podcast #494 - 04/05/18
Join us this week for Intel 8th Gen launch, Samsung Z-NAND, and more!!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath
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Program length: 1:53:12
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Josh: Bare Minimum NVME
Alex: Altered Carbon Trilogy
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | April 4, 2018 - 01:59 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: smartphone, p20 pro, Oreo, Leica, Kirin 970, Huawei, android 8.1
Huawei recently unveiled a slew of new smartphones and its new flagship P20 Pro is quite impressive and is the first smartphone to pack three rear cameras with Leica optics. The Huawei P20 Pro measures 155 x 73.9 x 7.8mm, weighs in at 180 grams (0.0275 lbs), and comes in black, midnight blue, pink gold, or gradient twilight colors.
The P20 Pro is IP67 rated for dust and water resistance and features soft rounded edges and flat faces. The front of the smartphone is dominated by an edge-to-edge 6.1’ FullView OLED display with a resolution of 1080 x 2440 (408 PPI). a fingerprint sensor sits below the display and is the only hardware button on the front fact. While there is a notch (that is smaller than the iPhone X’s), Huawei offers a setting that will turn off the top of the display to the left and right of the notch to hide it if the notch is too annoying to you. The notch in the display is where the front facing camera with 24.8 MP CMOS sensor is located (the camera can be used for facial recognition to unlock the phone). External I/O includes a single USB-C port on the bottom (there is no 3.5mm headphone jack but Huawei does include the USB-C to 3.5mm adapter).
Around back is where things get interesting as Huawei has managed to pack three Leica cameras as well as an LED flash into the top corner. The rear cameras can be used alone or in combination and offer various forms of autofocus and depth detection along with bokeh portrait modes, improved low light and long exposure performance, and AI-powered image stabilization, scene detection, camera settings, and shot composition assistance. That's quite the run-on sentence, but in fact the P20 Pro managed to obliterate the DxOMark benchmark with an overall score of 109, a photo score of 114, and a video score of 98 which is very impressive! The NPU-powered AI is trained to recognize 500 scenarios in 19 categories and is able to assist the user in taking fast motion shots as well as night shots without flash using long exposures even when handheld, and looking at some of the night photos DxOMark was able to get seems to show it works well. Other camera features include 4D predictive focus, up to 102400 ISO, 960 FPS 720p video, and a 5-time hybrid zoom. Phase Detection Auto Focus is used in the main sensor and the cameras also support laser focus, deep focus, and contrast focus. Huawei claims that its "super snapshot" mode allows users to go from off to taking a photo in as little as 0.3 seconds.
The three cameras include:
- 20 MP Monochrome (1/2.78”) f/1.6 27mm equivalent
- 40 MP RGB (1/1.73”) f/1.8 27mm equivalent (10 MP photos produced using quad bayer patterning)
- 8 MP RGB (1/4.4”) f/2.4 80mm equivalent with optical image stabilization
Enough with the covers though, what's inside this smartphone? Well, Huawei has chosen the HiSilicon Kirin 970 SoC which features four ARM Cortex-A73 cores at 2.36 GHz, four Cortex-A53 cores at 1.8 GHz, a "micro core i7" NPU (neural processing unit), and Mali G72 MP12 graphics. The SoC looks to be somewhere between the Snapdragon 820 and Snapdragon 835 in performance (according to AnandTech) is paired with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of flash storage. Connectivity includes NFC, GPS, and LTE (oddly, they don't list any Wi-Fi information on the specifications page) and the P20 Pro has the usual sensor compliment (e.g. gravity, proximity, ambient light, hall, gyroscope, compass, color temperature sensor). A 4,000 mAh battery with Huawei supercharging powers the device. As of the time of writing the Huawei P20 Pro comes with Android 8.1 Oreo for the operating system.
According to Hexus.net, the Huawei P20 Pro will be available across the pond in both dual and single SIM versions starting at £799 RRP (recommended retail price) which comes out to about $1,230.93 in US dollars for those curious. Needless to say, the Huawei P20 Pro isn't going to be cheap when (or if) it hits the US but at least you get a of hardware packed into it!
I am interested to see the reviews on this one though I just recently bought the LG V30 due to my G3 dying so I'll likely be holding onto it for as long as possible as well (heh). I can't lie that I'm a bit jealous of the camera though; guess I should have waited – my corgi photos could have been so much better! (haha) What are your thoughts on the Huawei flagship?