If the whole benchmark cheating scandal has had you shaking your head, this latest revelation might just leave you scratching it. It seems that CyanogenMod will be introducing performance profiles that automatically adjust hardware throughput depending on the app, and one of those included in its whitelist is AnTuTu.
The whole fiasco started when Samsung was caught red-handed boosting its smartphones beyond normal whenever certain benchmarking tests are run. This gave such devices higher scores than they normally would on day-to-day usage. Other manufacturers were later found to have been following this practice, causing popular benchmark suites to change their game and be on the lookout for such “cheaters”. CyanogenMod might be facing some backlash from users and benchmark suites once its implementation goes into effect. The feature itself is actually innocent, as it will allow users to squeeze out the best from their device’s hardware when and if the app warrants it, while keeping everything else on normal. The problem starts with a whitelist feature where this performance profiles will automatically take effect, a list that by default already includes AnTuTu.
One point of contention is the purpose of those tests in the first place. Some manufacturers believe that they do nothing wrong as they see benchmarks as instruments to measure a device’s potential and therefore pushes hardware to the limit when these tests are run. On the other hand, bechmark suite makers like Futuremark, who just recently dragged the HTC One M8 into its hall of shame, believes that these tests are meant to give users an estimate of how well a device will perform under normal circumstances and load. Therefore, boosting hardware only when a benchmark is run totally defeats the purpose. This line of reasoning could eventually give CyanogenMod some negative reputation at least with this benchmark.
CyanogenMod’s implementation isn’t exactly as evil. For one, it is simply part of a larger feature that will let users adjust device performance depending on the running app. I just so happened to have AnTuTu there by default. Second, CyanogenMod says users will still have the freedom to turn off that feature, which will allow them to let the device run as normal when AnTuTu’s app is run, in contrast to manufacturers that do so without the user’s knowledge or control. What remains somewhat mysterious is why CyanogenMod thought of including AnTuTu, and possibly other benchmarks, in the feature’s whitelist. A seemingly innocent idea, but very bad for PR.