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11 June 2012, 15:39

Linaro boosts Android 4.0.4 performance

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Android icon Using a customised version of Google's open source Android mobile operating system, developers at Linaro have managed to improve the performance of some tasks by up to 100 per cent. In a recently published video from Linaro Connect Q2.12, Bernhard Rosenkränzer, a software engineer at Linaro, compares a stock build of Android 4.0.4 "Ice Cream Sandwich" from the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) web site to the tweaked Linaro Android 4.0.4 build to show off its optimisations.

The demonstration is run on two identical Texas Instruments PandaBoards (OMAP4430) and shows that the Linaro build of Android ran up to twice as fast as the standard version of Android in some cases. In the demo, the Flying Teapot, OpenGL Fog, OpenGL Blending and OpenGL Cube benchmarks average approximately 60 frames per second (FPS) on the Linaro Android build, while the AOSP build averages around 30 FPS. The performance improvements came from enhancing the code around the proprietary graphics driver.

Linaro software engineer Bernhard Rosenkränzer shows off the customised version of Android 4.0.4

Rosenkränzer says that the special build of Android uses a different Linaro toolchain with a newer compiler and special optimisations for ARM built in, as well as other optimisations to the underlying software. "I'm not saying we're better than them [Google], but we have paid more attention to optimising for ARM," said Rosenkränzer.

Developers at the CyanogenMod project, which creates community-built custom ROMs for Android devices, have already submitted Linaro's build optimisations for inclusion in the upcoming CyanogenMod 9 (CM9) release, which is based on Ice Cream Sandwich. Other developers have also created a build of CM9 with the Linaro optimisations (1, 2) for the Verizon and GSM variants of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Linaro is a not-for-profit engineering organisation that was formed in 2010 by ARM, Freescale, IBM, Samsung, ST-Ericsson and Texas Instruments. The project's goal is to consolidate and optimise open source Linux-based software such as Android for ARM-based System-on-a-Chip (SoC) implementations.

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