Over the past year, we've constantly heard about devices optimizing for benchmark software on Android in order to get better results. This muscle-flexing, while not exactly scientific in the first place, does give off the impression that one device is more powerful than another, especially to those users that simply don't any different. Since a number of OEMs were 'busted', we've not heard much on this front, but now it seems that Huawei is optimizing their Ascend P7 in order to get much better results in a number of benchmarking tests. This has led Futuremark, the company behind 3DMark, to remove the Ascend P7 from their list entirely.
Futuremark sent us an email to let us know just why the Ascend P7 was rumored from their rankings, and taking a look at a thorough report from AnAndTech, it's pretty easy to see why. Joshua Ho was in the process of reviewing the Ascend P7 for AnAndTech and decided to see what optimizations – if any – Huawei was using to get the Kirin 910T (a quad-core Cortex-A9 CPU) to post some fairly impressive scores for a device of its class. What he found was that Huawei had adjusted how the Ascend P7 changes CPU governor in order to score higher results. Normally, the device stays far away from its maximum 1.8 Ghz clockspeed, but when the device is running a benchmarking app, the governor jumps right up to 1.8 Ghz and only wavers a little to 1.7 Ghz and then back up again. You might think that using the CPU's top-speed shouldn't make that much of a difference, but Ho found that with these optimizations, the Ascend P7 scores 7462 versus 5816 without them.
This sort of thing is hardly new, but it is sad to see Huawei being one of the few OEMs to still employ CPU optimizations to boost benchmark results. What makes this more confusing is that benchmark results rarely mean that much about real world performance. How a device performs isn't always relative to the number on a sheet of paper after all. Huawei gave AnAndTech the following response and hopefully, the Ascend P7 – itself a quality device – will be put back into 3DMark's listing soon and the device starts to show its true performance in benchmarks; ""CPU configuration is adjusted dynamically according to the workload in different scenarios. Benchmark running is a typical scenario which requires heavy workload, therefore main frequency of CPU will rise to its highest level and will remain so for a while. For P7, the highest frequency is 1.8GHz. It seldom requires CPU to work at the highest frequency for long in others scenarios. Even if the highest level appears, it will only last for a very short time (for example 400 ms). Situation is the same for most devices in the market."