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Spillikins #105. Two cores against one: which processor comes on top?
First of all I would like to mention 3D models to appear in our reviews. The majority of our articles will feature these models. LG Optimus 2x was the first to offer this option. If you look under the title you will see an appropriate button. We hope to improve with time.
Click the button to see the model if your browser supports flash. In future we will offer similar capabilities for devices without flash.
So far these models are very simple and do not offer genuine 3D experience. If you have 3D glasses you may see a multidimensional image of a model with one click of a button.
Ideally, we would like to have genuine 3D experience for users to choose which type of picture to see. We plan to add 3D models with tips, phones descriptions and so on. It will take some time though. Now, let's resume our normal service.
I spent one week playing with LG Optimus 2x and the first part of the review has already appeared on our website with the second part to follow soon. Much time was taken by testing the performance of current models and Nvidia Tegra2. Some findings will be mentioned here. Unfortunately, this week brought us more bad news from Nokia. The market leader generates negative publicity with the relative ease and we cannot ignore it, because the status quo is in the balance. Nokia is still losing. Now let's start discussing the performance of processors. I will ask a question straight away – do I have to make the list of best apps for Android, data backup, SMS and so on?
My further research was motivated by a letter from our reader. I will quote it and then explain how synthetic tests relate to our perception of models and what we can see in real life. First comes the letter:
Re: your review of LG Optimus 2x (P990) GSM/UMTS smartphone
Below I quote my letter to you from several days ago where I forecast your test results. Is it worth buying Optimus 2x on Tegra2 now for $1000, though it has not been optimized as well as its one core rivals in terms of energy consumption.
Moreover, I am not sure that during the tests you had Samsung Galaxy S with the latest OS 2.2.1 (JPY), where Samsung fixed issues with RFS files system and boosted the speed of operation by 35 - 40%. Had you compared that firmware with Optimus 2x the results could have been more interesting.
It is easy to understand that your video shows how Samsung Galaxy S works on par or even surpasses Optimus 2x in its graphic operation. In your results Tegra2 with OpenGL beats Samsung galaxy S only by 1%. Once again the tests were prepared by NVidia and latest firmware of Samsung Galaxy S was not in the frame. Moreover, I have Samsung Galaxy S and Nexus S. The latter is based on the same platform (albeit OS 2.3.), but overtakes Samsung Galaxy S (2.2.1) by 15-25% in terms of speed, which is manifested when you play difficult games. If you compare it with Optimus 2x, then Tegra2 will definitely lose. High speed of Nexus S in comparison with Samsung Galaxy S is explained not only by a new Android version, but because its ext files system has the edge over RFS. If you ignore the difference in hardware Android 2.3. will perform 10-15% better than 2.2.1. The rest of advantage is courtesy of platform and software improvements.
The only weird result is that Optimus 2x cannot beat Samsung Galaxy S in browser handling. WebKit must support several flows by default and two processors should deal with information faster. Once again, developers must have made a bad job of optimization.
Your article is good, but I would not have used too many personal expressions like "who needs that" or "is this level of performance necessary right now".
I think you could know about it, but Nexus S on MoDaCo firmware gets 2,250 in Quadrant, while Samsung Galaxy S offers 2,000 if you break away from RFS. In other words, current platforms are slower, because manufacturers do not want to optimize them.
I think that even one core processors have too much power these days and can be seriously boosted if optimized properly. There is no need to have several processors. Optimize the logical circuitry, boost output capacity and use modern graphic elements to get the necessary power for any OS. Apple Phone 4 and IPad are good examples of the trend.
Several processors are an issue of fashion and marketing rather than a necessity.
Indeed, my sample of Galaxy S came equipped with the latest firmware at the time available for Russia (JPB – without changes of the files system). As in other countries this model has different firmware (JPY and above) I decided to try it out as well. I did not use any special apps to boost the speed of the phone. The processor remained the same. I installed the firmware advised by our reader and results are quite illustrative. Compare the performance of Galaxy S before and after the firmware.
Unlike the advice offered by Review Guide from Nvidia I decided not to disable usual apps, which run in background. I did not open or close any software, which is initiated after the phone starts working. I think the results are the most objective this way. After the phone was up and running associated tests were started. The difference between data given by Nvidia and mentioned in our article is colossal.
The reason must be in the software version used in both cases. Unfortunately, Review Guide from Nvidia gives the Android version, but not the software versions on the handset. The software versions play a crucial role in the phone's performance.
When we tested LG Optimus 2x I saw that the interface performance is high, but there was no particular difference between Galaxy S and the LG model when you run applications. I could not find the difference in apps described in Review Guide and those offered at Android Market. While speaking to developers, it became clear that we have no 3D games at the moment to capitalize on the advantage of dual core processors. It explains why Shrek Kart HD, which comes in the box runs equally fast on both models. Even test results show not much of a difference.
The main outcome coincides with the opinion of our reader – at the moment we have no applications optimized for two processors, and the performance boost in standard software is not dramatic. Nvidia solution is the most productive at the moment, but the difference is not markedly felt during everyday use.
While studying the performance issue I opened an area of firmware upgrade and processors boost. Customized firmware helps Android fans get a considerable performance increase. Obviously, people run certain risks, but the number of such people is high if you use specialized web forums for analysis. During the last months we got utilities to boost processors from 1 GHz to 2 GHz. These solutions are not to be used in everyday life due to low stability, but their purpose is to show the maximum capability. They are used by true fans only.
You can access tests of various smartphones here.
There are some interesting facts we knew before: every Android version after 2.1 offers considerable performance boost. In fact, the current hardware is not utilized up to 100% by the OS itself. New versions of Android make it more stable and fast.
The main question here is obvious. When can we expect apps to make good use of dual core processors? I think it can happen no sooner than summer of 2011 for some games. Nvidia Tegra Zone has to be available at Android Market too. These apps for phones (not tablet PCs) will not be numerous, but in 2012 the market can become more crowded. Until then Nvidia Tegra2 is interesting for the techies first, but the mass market audience cannot feel the difference as yet.
More often than not I think that Nokia lacks logic in its moves. The fans expected a serious upgrade to fix bugs, add new features to the OS and boost user experience of those who own Symbian^3 models. When Nokia N8 was delayed by several months Nokia representatives mentioned a desire to offer an ideal system as an explanation.
According to PR 1.1 Symbian^3 still has many issues with up to 200 items being already fixed. These are serious drawbacks Nokia paid attention to. For example, developers of Nokia could not solve for years the issue of switching languages on the screen keypad with one tap. How can you be a market leader after that? Why launch an upgrade without serious improvements?
We do not get a new browser or new features. On an official Nokia blog they say that these tweaks are important, but not expressly visible to users. To sweeten the frustration we get a new QuickOffice 6.4.166 with the editing support. N8 got three games in the kit, which were earlier available for free at OVI Store. The performance was not improved and the new version of browser (188.8.131.52) does not offer anything special. It is still as outdated as ever. Integration of maps with mail is hardly a killer feature.
As far as Nokia N8 hit the shelves 4 months ago it took Nokia quite a long time to prepare this upgrade. It is available for Nokia N8, Nokia C7 and Nokia C6-01. Surprisingly, last week we mentioned in the Spillikins the inability of Nokia to come up with firmware in time.
A German periodical Wirtschaftswoche cites its Nokia sources and maintains that Stephen Elop is ready to fire several top managers. The following people can lose their jobs: Mary McDowell responsible for the mobile department; Niklas Savander, who heads the Markets; Chief Development Officer Kai Oistamo; Tero Ojanpera responsible for services and mobile solutions.
What do they have in common? I know these people and believe that all of them are skeptical of Nokia development under Stephen Elop. It is not a fact as it has to be discussed with them, but I still think that the new CEO is just trying to appoint his loyal people at these positions. Nobody asked Anssi Vanjoki to leave as it was his own decision. Anyway he was too strong, popular and charismatic for new management.
If the information from the German periodical is confirmed the internal battles in Nokia come up to a new level. I think Kai Oistamo is one of the rare few at Nokia who knows what to do in order to save the company and he is quite important for Nokia. His removal on the ground of being close to Vanjoki means that Nokia is preoccupied with other issues apart from its business. The arrival of new people will require at least 4-6 months to understand internal developments. Only then new recruits will be able to start working in earnest. Unfortunately, the company has no luxury of these months as it is sliding down very quickly.
Another interesting instance is the way Nokia spends money on research and development. Bernstein Research revealed shocking figures. In 2010 Nokia spent 3.9 billion Euros, which is a record for the industry. The nearest rival (Samsung) spent less than 3 billion Euros on all R&D projects (phones, memory modules and other household appliances).
Now let's break down the expenses. I am especially curious about Symbian User Experience, which describes attempts of Nokia to create Symbian^3. A whopping 5000 developers were involved into creating an outdated Symbian^3 interface. Last year their endeavors cost 850 million Euros. I cannot understand that. It looks as if you can do nothing and get a generous pay from Nokia. I cannot offer any viable explanation.
Asymco used data from Bernstein Research and compared the effectiveness of R&D departments of Nokia with that of Apple. They used average figures without taking into account differences in wages and cost of living worldwide. As far as both Nokia and Apple are international companies these factors cannot be crucial.
Look at the number of people working in different departments at Apple. Pay special attention to employees responsible for iPhone.
The next graph shows expenses on R&D, turnover of companies in 2010 and the ratio between R&D expenses and sales.
These graphs are obvious. Something is rotten in the Kingdom of Nokia. The efficiency leaves much to be desired. It did not start today and we should look back several years to see the causes of the development. The structure of the company was altered several times during the last couple of years and the results are clearly negative. Another managerial change initiated by the new CEO will make things worse. Add internal battles and you understand why I am skeptical about Nokia future. Sadly, it has to deal with serious rivals, which can rip it apart. The process has already started, but Nokia has no products to answer the challenge.
At the end of December 2010 I wrote that Nokia increased the wholesale prices for Nokia N8 by 10%. In Russia its price had to go from $680 to $750, which duly happened at the beginning of February. There are many models purchased in the 4th quarter of the previous year and they are still sold for $630-$680. The model is not very popular, while the next handset Nokia C7 has bad sales as well.
Subsequently, several retail chains lowered the prices. Despite the massive promotion Nokia C7 was hardly a hit. Nokia tried to change the situation by bombarding consumers with ads. All mailboxes had appropriate flyers, but nothing helped. Sales were far from impressive, so retailers decided to sell the model at the lowest price possible.
You can get Nokia C7-00 now for as low as $480 or $130 lower than at the beginning of sales. Consumers get a 21% discount after one month and a half. The model is extremely unpopular and retailers do everything to get rid of it.
Not to anger Nokia all retailers used the following trick. If you go to their online stores you will see the old price of $612, but if you decide to buy the phone then the price goes down to $476. Companies try all means to offload models they don't really need.
Can you find certified Nokia C7 models even cheaper? Why not! Go to Pleer.ru or Alttelecom.ru. The most popular Symbian^3 model - Nokia C6-01 costs $510 and the dumping of C7 ruins the sales of the former.
At the same time Nokia C7 has a high level of defects, while Nokia C6-01 is almost free of it, but C7 has better features. On the other hand, the number of returns is one of the highest for the model, which is turning into a nightmare for shops.
Nokia is trying to help by massive promotion campaigns of C7. Can Nokia decrease the price of the handset? I am afraid the answer will be negative. Moreover, it will be more expensive starting with February. At the moment retailers have problems selling off the remainder of older shipments, but the price will have to go up soon. If you need C7 and like Nokia do it now. It is risky, but the price is at its lowest. Ideally, this price level should have been reached in one year after the start of sales, but not within one month and a half. In other countries the situation is equally appalling. Moreover, European carriers do not reduce the price anyway.
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Published 08 February 2011
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