Sports Mode: Mediatek cheats on smartphone benchmarks


SoC manufacturer Mediatek has apparently been supplying its partners with firmware for years that is designed to achieve much higher results in smartphone benchmarks. That reports Anandtech with reference to nine devices from six manufacturers using seven chips.

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It is particularly nasty that not only public benchmarks are listed in a whitelist, but also some corporate versions, such as those used by Golem for tests. Anandtech tracked down Mediatek because the European Oppo Reno3 Pro with Mediatek's Helio P95 in PCMark10 had drastically better values ‚Äč‚Äčthan the Chinese Oppo Reno3 Pro with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 765G and even the Oppo Reno3 with Mediatek's actually significantly faster Dimensity 1000L. However, with a modified installation of PCMark10, the Oppo Reno3 Pro with Helio P95 does as expected.

In addition to smartphones from Oppo, devices from iVoomi, Realme, Sony, Vivo and Xiaomi also show a similar behavior – they are all equipped with SoCs from Mediatek. A whitelist is stored in the firmware, which activates a so-called sports mode for certain applications. It is quite sporty, at least as far as performance is concerned, because Sports Mode pulls the voltage / clock curve (DVFS) up and ensures a much more aggressive scheduling. However, this also means that the SoCs consume significantly more power and, in the worst case, overheat.

In a statement, Mediatek speaks of accepted industry standards and that the market is asking for this, and sports fashion was also created in close consultation with the partners. The focus is on benchmarks, but in everyday life, your own chips would run with optimized settings for speed and efficiency. Until now, benchmark cheating was primarily known by the partners – Huawei cheated in 3DMark in 2018. A few years ago, Samsung tricked the GFX benchmark, leading to a class action lawsuit and a $ 13.4 million compensation payment (PDF).

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