HWBOT Tales of Taipei #5 - Mobile Overclocking and Taipei Hackerspace

  • News, Editorials, Articles, Tales of Taipei Blog
  • 10

HWBOT Tales of Taipei #5 – Mobile Overclocking and Taipei Hackerspace

Author: Pieter-Jan Plaisier

I didn’t know what a Hackerspace is. Based on the the name, I figured it’s would be a bunch of young boys accessing secure information. But after spending a couple of hours at the Taipei Hackerspace, I have learned it is a place much like the overclocking community. Full of passion for technology and geeky stuff in general.
Together with my brand new colleague Timothée (Xyala) and his lovely girlfriend Adeline (who patiently endured all of our geekiness), I went to check out the open day at the hackerspace. The hacker’s place is a rooftop apartment in the center of Taipei, near the main station. The old city center, in case you’re wondering. There is no heating, no warm water, and hardly any place to cook. It almost solely serves the purpose of Hackerspace. Well, not almost. Fully.

In the rather large apartment, there is a bit of everything scattered around. There is hardware, soldering stations, notebooks, a wall plastered with crayon and ideas, a bit of electrical components, and more. There was also a bottle of wine (which I didn’t try). But first and foremost, there are people. Men mostly (of course), but a couple of women/girlfriends as well. Each of the attendees share a similar interest: geeky stuff. The one’s more into electrical engineering, while the other might be more into software. Tim and I are obviously more into hardware. All in all, a good mix of a bit of everything.

But why did we go to the Hackerspace? Because we have a project.

It is not very difficult to describe the project, or explain. It’s all about overclocking mobile devices. But, actually, it is about more than that. Everyone at HWBOT knows that there are plenty of mobile devices which can be overclocked. There are plenty of benchmarks too (some more secure than others). There is plenty of information out there to really overclock the hardware. But no one is doing it. I have yet to see the first real attempt at setting the ARM 3DMark record. Or the highest ARM CPU-Z validation. There is no competition.

Internally, we have had countless discussions debating why no one is pushing the mobile devices (or its technology). There is a plethora of reasons, each one more convincing than the other. But in the end, the same rules apply to mobile as to desktop. The benchmark is meaningless, and overclocking practically not relevant. Then how come there are 40% more overclockers in 2013 than in 2012? It’s simple: we overclock mainly because we enjoy it. Not because of the practical relevance, and definitely not for the greater good of improving hardware so companies can sell more.

In the Taipei Hackerspace, we try to find talented developers to help us kick-start the overclocking eco-system for mobile devices/architectures. Why? Because it’s important. Below I embedded the PowerPoint presentation we used to explain our project to people who are (let’s be honest) very unfamiliar with the overclocking scene.

The idea is simple. As a community, overclockers have been able to force hardware manufacturers to care about the product quality. Through overclocking – how irrelevant the benchmark scores may be – and the competitive nature of the overclockers, we motivated marketing teams primarily, and engineering teams secondarily, to look at how to improve the design of their product. The companies wanted not only to prevent the power users from spreading the word on poor design, but also to win the race to feature in the world record system. The result we know: better bios, better hardware, more tuning, and better design. A win for everyone!

This eco-system does not exist for mobile devices. There are tons of applications for mobile architectures outside the space of smartphones and tablets to be uncovered. We cannot let poor hardware design stop us. Let’s kick-start the eco-system! The proposed trajectory is as follows. First we introduce the competitive spirit through a benchmark application. The open-source Android version of HWBOT Prime seems to be a good start. The hope is that through rankings and leader boards, developers get interested. Who can build the fastest ROM? Who can build the most overclockable kernel? We hope that in the Hackerspace we can find a couple of people who can help work on a specific device project. For us, it will be one of the Hardkernel Odroid devices. Mainly because we have a bunch of them, and they are easy/easier to work with that smartphones or tablets. Especially when it comes to experimenting with different types of cooling.

In any case, the first experience with the Hackerspace was very positive. We hope to attend many more meetings, and perhaps even inspire some people to join our project. The HWBOT Prime code is open-source, so if you are interested in dev’ing for this project, feel free to join!

More information:

‘Till the next time!

// Pieter.

(ps: sorry, no pictures – forgot to take my camera!)


Belgium Massman says:

Now correctly linked on front page

United States l0ud_sil3nc3 says:

So time to tear apart the Note 3 and strap a pot on huh?

United States Splave says:

Are phones really lacking in speed though? I think 95% would find a way to down clock and save battery than have a smoother angry birds load time.

K404 says:

I think people would have to see this as a hobby separate to owning & tweaking a smartphone. Too many people are too reliant on their phones (the reasons are varied and none of my business) How many people would risk their brand new HTC/Samsung/MS/Apple/whatever handset, or have it "out of action" while they tweaked their benchmark efficiency? THIS IS A GOOD IDEA, I am not being critical per se, but I think that it needs to be seen as a "further purchase necessary" activity, which is tough, given the price of the good stuff.

GENiEBEN says:

*silently waiting to spam hwbot with mobile scores*

Belgium Massman says:

When I talk about mobile architecture, I mean devices like this:

Not the run-of-the-mill reference designs that go in phones; the development boards where SOCs have the room to breathe :)

Slovenia tiborrr says:

Putting those dev boards on the side - what's the point in overclocking something that runs on the batteries?

Also, I would be very careful about adding more benchmarks in the future, you might achieve the opposite effect from the extreme OC community. Not the ones that are doing this for living (HW manufacturer's in-house overclockers) but those that do it for the fun in the evenings like myself. Especially when you enable points in new benchmarks which also work on the hardware we have all already benched.

It was fun benching when there were a few 3D benchmarks (3DMarks, Aquamark) and few 2D benchmarks (Pie, Wprime, Fast Pie, PCMark). But adding such obscure benchmarks like you do lately and award them hardware points it's something you cannot do without the consensus from majority of community. IMO. It is becoming increasing difficult to participate in all benchmarks even if I put all my spare time into it. The days are just too short.

I know what you do for living and why you expand the benchmark suite every time you find a decently cheat-proof benchmark. I understand the economic side of it, but I have a hard time accepting this. I hear you will be adding even more benchmarks to the suite in new revision... To bad the creator doesn't give more hours to day as fast as you add new benchmarks.

I really feel like Hwbot is loosing focus. More =! (always) better. Drop old, add new if you have to, but too much is too much.

Belgium Massman says:

I agree with pretty much everything you said, Niko. Except for the conclusion and the remark on the economic aspect. Money has not really much to do with adding benchmarks as there is simply no correlation between the amount of advertising and the amount of benchmarks. Also, you should take into account that the increase of benchmark applications is a natural process. For example, Futuremark will release a new benchmark every X year, and of course there's always the possibility that new benchmarks attract interest from the enthusiast community. For example, Aquamark back in the day. Now Catzilla. In addition to that, it also seems a constant that the diehard XOC tend to express the desire to hold on to older benchmarks. For example 3DMark01 or SuperPI. There has never been a time where simply removing the older ones was supported by the majority of the community. But sticking to only the existing benchmarks shuts out the people who might be interested in overclocking too (but not in the old benchmarks). So there are two processes: 1) Always new benchmarks coming out (and added to hwbot by community request) 2) Diehards love their older benchmarks and want to keep them. And they work a bit as opposite forces. I don't know of any other solutions than to offer you the possibility of choice. Basically you can run any benchmark you want, and compete in the rankings. In Australia they call this freestyle :). I agree it makes it more difficult for people who like to focus on getting all the cups for one type of hardware. If you have any ideas to improve the situation for you, feel free to post. Also, can you elaborate on what you think our focus should be?

Slovenia tiborrr says:

Thanks for the reply, Pieter, it's always good to have a nice discussion regarding such important roles. I admit I have overlooked the possibility of 'freestyle' which actually sounds like a good trade-off between old and new benchmarks. But, to add I would recommend adding a single (50% community votes and 50% hwbot team votes) 2D and 3D benchmark once every year, maybe each January 1st. Community could suggest their candidate until October 1st 2013 and maybe have a heated discussion and voting period until December 1st. Hwbot would then use the one month to implement the benchmark selected by the community on a trial period which would last until ~ April 1st, maybe even add bonus boints or higher bounty for cups. Should the benchmark be ignored by the community it would get removed from the list and participants keep their hardware cups obtained during this period. The benchmark could be re-voted back. That's just my proposition :) Who knows, maybe you find some parts interesting and worth tinkering about. Also adding vendor-locked benchmarks (like XTU) should be a big no-no on hwbot, but since this is a big PR for you it's understandable. This should be solved with proposed 'free-style' anyhow but still. Regarding my remark about focus: I have a feeling that mobile market benchmarking is getting a tad too much focus from Hwbot lately. Yes, it's another benchmarkable platform like any other, especially thanks to the uniform OS ecosystem (which wasn't possible 3 or 4 years ago) but there's no real benefit from either overclocking something that already runs on limited amount of energy (Wh). Watthours are limited on these devices and if you increase the watts you loose the hours. And if you run these devices off a charger the whole 'mobile' looses it's point or is moot at best. iPhone and tablet generation really don't care about benchmarks. And even if they do - before you achieve anything with your OC platform they will already lose interest, especially if it requires more in-depth computer knowledge. If the youth could ditch twitter and FB for the sake of even more dumb-down, but faster communication channels then rest assure they will not be bothering with it for long. Working for a aftermarket cooler manufacturing company I can tell you that people are getting more technically challenged (=stupid) every day. Maybe I'm generalizing too much but that's my guts telling me about shifting trends. Regards, Niko

Belgium Massman says:

Actually, we proposed a similar "democratic" way for the community to have a say in the benchmark suite about a year ago. I don't recall the thread content exactly anymore, but we had to cancel the feature because there was too little interest for this. I brought up a very similar argument,

"The main issue is that it is becoming very difficult to introduce new benchmarks without saturating the bot. We can't continue like we do now and end up with 100 benchmarks that get points ... but we do need to be open for new benchmarks too. The rule that "everyone can choose what to bench" is relatively fine, but it does mean that everyone will just stick to what he likes and (almost never) try something new. I like the idea that we can push new benchmarks that may seem boring in the beginning but after a while get really interesting and competitive."

As for XTU. Sure, that project was very interesting for us PR and economically. PR-wise, it's great that a company like Intel works together with a small organization like us. It gives HWBOT a lot of credibility in the eyes of other companies. Also, along with our other partners, they helped us get through 2012. But! That is not the main reason why we took on XTU as a project, nor is it the main reason why we will keep pushing the benchmark. The main reason is related to getting fresh, new blood into overclocking. I recently build a report about the effect of XTU on HWBOT and this was one of the charts:

XTU is an incredible driver for enthusiasts to join HWBOT. More so than any other benchmark we host rankings for. Now I am not saying that every new member will become a diehard enthusiast like you or me, but there is a lot of potential. We still need to work on how to convert the new members, but this exposure is why we value XTU.

If AMD comes along and wants to do the exact same with their Overdrive benchmark, I wouldn't hesitate a second to discuss a cooperation.

As for how tech-savvy the new generation is, I can't really comment on it. The one thing that comes to mind is that the Raspberry Pi foundation is trying to get young kids to learn programming. Not just for future purposes, but as a logical thinking skill too. There is an argument to be made that the same applies to hardware; a fundamental understanding of how "things work" inside a computer/smartphone is not bad.

Please log in or register to comment.