Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Asphalt 8: Airborne is coming ‘very soon’ and new teaser is out

Asphalt is a legendary racing franchise and Asphalt 8: Airborne promises to live up to the name with jaw-dropping console-grade graphics and adrenaline boosting gameplay. Developer Gameloft has just released a new teaser video for Asphalt 8 saying the game is now coming ‘very soon’.

Teh new Asphalt is ‘airborne’ because of platforms, rocks and other constructions in tracks that you can jump on to lift your car in the air. Stunts in the air look amazing.

Most impressive to us, though, are the even better graphics that - we can safely say - reach near console grade quality. The new Asphalt 8 will be optimized to run on the new Nexus 7 with its amazing 1920 x 1200 ‘Retina’ display.

The racing game comes with a brand new realistic physics engine, a whopping 180 events, 47 cars and new game modes. Asphalt 8: Airborne supports simultaneous online multiplayer, but you can also race friends in asynchronous challenges, and all of that is tracked in leaderboards.

Samsung responds to benchmark cheating allegations

Yesterday we told you that Samsung tweaks the GPU performance of the octa-core Galaxy S4 in order to achieve higher benchmark scores. It was proven both by tests and internal code pointing to specific benchmarks such as Quadrant, AnTuTu, Linpack and GLBenchmark.

Today Samsung issued a response to those allegations.
Here is the official note:
Under ordinary conditions, the Galaxy S4 has been designed to allow a maximum GPU frequency of 533MHz. However, the maximum GPU frequency is lowered to 480MHz for certain gaming apps that may cause an overload, when they are used for a prolonged period of time in full-screen mode. Meanwhile, a maximum GPU frequency of 533MHz is applicable for running apps that are usually used in full-screen mode, such as the S Browser, Gallery, Camera, Video Player, and certain benchmarking apps, which also demand substantial performance.
The maximum GPU frequencies for the Galaxy S4 have been varied to provide optimal user experience for our customers, and were not intended to improve certain benchmark results.
We remain committed to providing our customers with the best possible user experience.
We know desktop GPU manufacturers do this stuff all the time with their graphics cards to boost the benchmarking scores. But until now we haven’t see such tweaking among the embedded mobile graphics and that’s why we consider it unfair.

It’s great that Samsung offers the higher GPU clock to other apps outside the benchmarks such as the TouchWiz video player, web browser, gallery and camera. But the issue with the internal code that specifically names benchmarking apps which get the higher GPU clock still remains. And the “certain games” seems too vague, which puts us back on the benchmark tweaking and the unfair scores. We’ll let everyone draw their own conclusions here.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Octa-core Samsung Galaxy S4 caught cheating on GPU benchmarks

Samsung I9500 Galaxy S4, the Exynos 5 Octa versions of the flagship, didn’t make it to most of the markets and remained the more exotic option. Production hiccups and delays plus the lack of LTE radio in the initial batch was the reason Samsung switched to Snapdragon 600 chipset and make the I9505 its worldwide flagship.


Anyway, the octa-core version followed shortly after the Snapdragon 600 was launched. We already had a meeting with the beast and found it slightly faster in benchmarks than its international sibling, but weaker when it comes to battery life. A new development however, suggests that the scores posted by the Exynos GPU are obtained by cheating and the I9500 real life performance is lower than its scores indicate.

It’s a really simple yet powerful trick – the GPU clock get boosted when you run specific benchmarks on your octa-core I9500 Galaxy S4 and this way you get about 10% higher result than you should.
Samsung indeed didn’t specify the PoweVR SGX 544MP3 clock, but as per Anandtech’s investigation it runs always at up to 480MHz unless you are using benchmarks. When you do open a benchmark app the Galaxy S4 GPU start ticking at 532MHz and continues to do so until you exit the app. This means the Exynos-powered Galaxy S4 only brings its A-game to benchmarks and does slightly worse elsewhere. It’s not like the smartphone is a slouch with regular apps, but that’s blatant cheating. 

We are not quite sure what is the reason for the lower clock cap in non-benchmark apps, but risks of overheating or huge battery drainage are the main suspect. 

The CPU of the Galaxy S4 variants was also found to behave somewhat odd with its clock speed forced to the maximum possible the minute you run a benchmark. That’s not technically cheating though, as the power is available if needed elsewhere – there’s no overclocking. 

The cheat doesn’t apply on all benchmarks, but Anandtech so far discovered the different behavior on AnTuTu, Quadrant, GLBenchmark 2.5, BenchmarkPi and Linpack.

So, it seems Samsung is trying to polish the octa-core Galaxy S4 reputation. Whatever the reason, we are hoping it doesn’t become a habit – the company’s flagships have enough power and they don’t need to use such unfair practices to gain advantage.