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Old 15-12-2008, 10:20 PM
slitchfield slitchfield is offline
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Graphics Acceleration: the Price of Progress? Let's hope not

Having heard many a user refer to 'upgrading' from (for example) a Nokia N95 8GB to an N85, I thought it worth examining an important way in which all is not necessarily positive when going from an older phone to a newer one. With SPMark benchmark figures to back up my arguments, I'm rather disturbed by the hardware inside Nokia's current and upcoming (announced) ranges.

Read on in the full article.

Old 15-12-2008, 11:35 PM
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It's a disappointing step back for mobiles as a platform for computing. The chip in the N95 was on par with my first every PC, running at 333Mhz if I remember correctly. The TI OMAP processors are astounding but surely costly. However I didn't expect Nokia to remove this from their very top line phones like the N96. I agree with your conclusion, this will come back to bite them.

Old 15-12-2008, 11:43 PM
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After getting n96 as my 1st symbian phone, it seems...

I should buy good old N95-2 as well.

Old 15-12-2008, 11:48 PM
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You may remember that Nokia had several business groups, including Multimedia and Mobile Phones. Well, they also had several platforms, including the dual chip OMAP based "Multimedia" paltform (N93(i), N95(8gb), N82), and the single chip "mobile phone" platform (the rest).

Well, Multimedia is no more. It's all mobile phones from here on in, no matter what branding is actually put on it.

That's why there has been what seems like a huge big standing still for 2-3 years. You are spending time catching up to where you already were rather than pushing on.

Old 15-12-2008, 11:59 PM
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Thanks Steve

I was about to buy the N85 today, your article atleast made me stop and reconsider.

I had been thinking about the lack 3D graphics acc. on the new-er devices ..the SP mark test numbers really shed some light on the subject....

guess i will wait a little more on the N85/N79/N96 ..too early to make decision.

Old 16-12-2008, 12:13 AM
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The new N Series phones are still multimedia devices despite what internal division of the company they were in. I think if they can manage to pull off multimedia without the expense of the superior chip, then for costs they would. However I would of course prefer to have better technology in my hand. I'll still buy an N85, whenever they actually come out on contract in the UK, as I don't think there'll be far superior handsets for a year or so. At least that's why I read this website. The N97 doesn't appeal to me.

Old 16-12-2008, 01:02 AM
viipottaja viipottaja is offline
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Do you have any (reasonably reliable) estimate of what the cost difference might be?

Even if its significant (and by significant I mean even $10.. multiply a little by a lot and you get even more... something that Nokia cannot ignore even in the high end), I suspect "blaming it" on price alone may be too simplistic. There may well be a multitude of other reasons (organizational, logistical, supply contracts and relations etc.).

Old 16-12-2008, 01:02 AM
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It is disappointing, especially since the iPhone does have graphics acceleration, and the N97 is supposed to be its competition. Apple has finally broken into the games market in a big way, and Nokia is taking a step backward.

Old 16-12-2008, 01:03 AM
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tnkgrl tnkgrl is offline
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Steve, I think another reason they dropped the 3D acceleration hardware is battery life.

Old 16-12-2008, 01:33 AM
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I think its Knights Of The Dark Edge(K.O.D.E.) not aged.

Old 16-12-2008, 01:59 AM
junchao8 junchao8 is offline
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Not everyone who have n95 use it to play games, youtube videos. I for one would be shocked if more than 5% of total n95 variant owner ever tried a 3D accelerated games intentionally.

Yes, n85 variants are underpowered graphically, but they are made for the masses, by not having omap 2420, the advantages are more than evidental:

2-3 longer music playback time than the likes of n95 at much better sound quality, in particularly much improved dynamic range, and far superior sonic detail; where as you'd have to worry about empty battery, even on n95-2 while trying to enjoy music, so much for smart.

They can playback wmv files without braking a sweat. Something that n95 variants with their outdated Image & video accelerator v1 (IVA) cannot touch.

They are physically smaller, allowing better internal arrangement and eventually lighter, more attractive mass-centric phone with bigger battery or xenon flash in 6220c.

Being single core, they are far cheaper per yield, allowing greater rate of mass usage.

They allow far greater general processing power by utilising higher dynamically clocked ARM11 cores, extra 33 mhz does make quite a difference.

Also I'd like to remark upon the tiny numbers of app that actually takes advantage 3D hardware. Pc version offer greater quality at lower costs.

I somehow noticed this experiment tends slightly single sided, which I would more than- gladly understand and sympathise and as a frustrated n95-2 owner, who is not pleased with lack of technological advances.

However, merely taking one benchmark, is far from conclusive, in physics degree, the concept of fair experiment is heavily weighed; I dare say you know this well.

Thus while strong correlation exists to prove your hypothesis correct, that omap 2420 is stronger than single core solution, the process by which you used in judging is highly synthetic and proprietary in nature and cannot conclusively reflect the real world model of behaviors.

I can confidently say, that in general process, menu interface speed for eg, Omap 2420 handsets like n95 are all slower than n81 or 6120c (feature packs 1), if you compare time taken to uninstall some app,the difference is actually pretty shocking.

I stress this again, not every person use their phone for 3D accelerated tasks, those who do is seen as outliners by may say the likes of n85 are toys, but for some, I mean most people , who use their phone as phones, the one that opens new text faster; the one that does not run of battery when boss calls; that actually works when one wants it to is better than a n95.

I think that while new phones have flaw in lacking 3D backbone, you are forgetting the flaws of omap 2420 themselve, at this time especially for their sluggish, underpowered complementary ARM core, seriously, what the heck is the good of a 3D accelerated phone without 2D power? Thats like running before one learns to walk.

Also for taste for battery, their cost. The devices using omap 3 series along with improved graphics are begining to surface, which is good. 65nm will and hopefully 2-2.5 times efficient core with greater performance per cycle will be nice for the battery. Additionally likes of Archos have decided to sample omap 3 @ 600 mhz in this years refresh thus I'd imagine mass production will bring greater number of devices to utilise it at lower price point.

My point is that single core solutions in n85 have improved back to basic performance in nokia phones, not getting too smart, but tends back down to earth. hopefully the next logical step would be improved 3D hardware, as well as the numbers of apps that actually takes advantage of them.

Old 16-12-2008, 07:37 AM
slitchfield slitchfield is offline
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Thanks, juncha. Yes, I was focussing on just one specific aspect of a phone's performance, of course. And yes, I do understand all the other benefits of everything now being on a single chip. But it just seems such a huge shame to have been going backwards in this one high-profile department for the last 18 months....

And I know that people like me are edge cases. But we're by FAR the most vocal. And also the most likely to spend money as early adopters and then tell others what we think.

OK, so perhaps the OMAP2420 had its flaws. But my N82 runs rings around the N85 in several important (to me) areas - and that surely can't be right. My N95 8GB similarly out performs the N96, etc etc.
Steve Litchfield, Admin, AAS

Old 16-12-2008, 08:00 AM
argh argh is offline
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Is that second table correct? It looks to be a copy of the N78 row from the first table.

People saying "It's not worth having 3D acceleration because nothing uses it" are completely missing the point. The reason that nothing uses it is because few handsets support it!

If people thought like that, no new features would ever be added to phones, as there won't be any applications that use them until there is a large enough user base to make them profitable. 3D accelerators can be used to make great looking user interfaces as well, which Nokia could have taken advantage of.

Importantly, to game and 3D application developers, OpenGL (ES) just increases productivity so much, especially for new entrants to the platform. Yes, some n-gage developers have shown that you can get some nice results without 3D acceleration, but they will have had to work very very hard to optimise the engines to work that well. Publishers don't want to optimise everything per-device. The higher level API, the better. The more code that they can re-use across platforms, the better.

Old 16-12-2008, 08:51 AM
puterman puterman is offline
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I believe the 3d hardware was an experiment, and Nokia just didn't see enough advantage in using them to keep going.

As for GLES for user interfaces, GLES 1.1 isn't that well suited for UI stuff, its feature set is much more angled at gaming. GLES 2.0 on the other hand, with non-power of two texture sizes etc. is much better for UI usage.

Old 16-12-2008, 09:15 AM
slitchfield slitchfield is offline
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Oops, yes, the second table got ctrl-Z-ed one too many times after I'd messed up the formatting. Fixing it now....
Steve Litchfield, Admin, AAS


acceleration, graphics, hope, price, progress

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