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July 31, 2013

Samsung Denies Galaxy S4 Benchmark Fraud Accusations

Samsung is denying accusations it intentionally created its Galaxy S4 chip to function better when being tested by reviewers than it does in reality.

The allegations of benchmark fraud began circulating Tuesday after a renowned review site discovered the Galaxy S4 graphics processor appeared to be rigged to run at a higher clock speed than usual.

The tests involved the Exynos 5 Octa chip that is found in South Korean and other foreign versions of the phone. The chip is not used in North American or U.K. editions of the device.

In a statement issued on its website today to clarify the benchmark results, Samsung said the alterations in the chip were meant to improve performance for users, not to fool researchers.

The statement reads:

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.

Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4

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.

Samsung Electronics remains committed to providing our customers with the best possible user experience.

A contributor to the Beyond3D forum first noticed the irregularity.

“Oh hell Samsung, shame on you!” wrote the poster known as Nebuchadnezzar. “I’m currently doing GPU overclocking and voltage control in the kernel for the 5410/i9500 and was screwing around with what was supposed to be a generic max limit only to be surprised by what it actually represents. This GPU does not run 532MHz; that frequency level is solely reserved for Antutu and GLBenchmark among things.”

This means the device was performing 11 percent faster than normal when running Android and 3D graphics testing programs.

Anandtech, which is known for its computer chip reviews, confirmed the finding earlier this week.

“Be careful about comparing Exynos 5 Octa based Galaxy S 4s using any of the affected benchmarks to other devices and drawing conclusions based on that. This seems to be purely an optimization to produce repeatable (and high) results in CPU tests, and deliver the highest possible GPU performance benchmarks,” reads a report by Anandtech’s Brian Klug and Anand Lal Shimpi.

“What Samsung needs to do going forward is either open up these settings for all users/applications (e.g. offer a configurable setting that fixes the CPU governor in a high performance mode, and unlocks the 532MHz GPU frequency) or remove the optimization altogether.

“The risk of doing nothing is that we end up in an arms race between all of the SoC and device makers where non-insignificant amounts of time and engineering effort is spent on gaming the benchmarks rather than improving user experience. Optimizing for user experience is all that’s necessary, good benchmarks benefit indirectly — those that don’t will eventually become irrelevant.”

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