Workaround For Poor Ubuntu Phone Performance / Stuttering? "Touch The Screen A Lot"
Written by Michael Larabel in Ubuntu on 15 August 2015 at 10:25 AM EDT. 18 Comments
UBUNTU --
Some Ubuntu developers are currently looking at poor performance of the Ubuntu Phone, particularly when it comes to stuttering or a poor user experience in certain cases.

Daniel van Vugt of Canonical explained in a new Ubuntu Phone thread, "In testing performance optimisations on various phones, I keep running into an annoying hurdle. Although you can optimise your Mir server/clients in such a way that they're smoother more often, there's an additional variable outside of Mir and Unity that gets in the way. That seems to be frequency scaling done by the kernel. Sometimes on desktops too, but I'm mostly concerned about phones here. I find it suspicious that on some devices you can turn stuttering into smoothness just but touching the screen a lot. But the smoothness soon goes away when you're not touching the screen. In the extreme case, if you're logged into the phone remotely you will also notice the system can become unusably slow when the screen has turned off. That's useful for a real phone's battery life, but it serves to illustrate that the kernel is doing a lot behind the scenes. I'm more concerned about how can we keep phone graphics performing as well as they do during touches, even when we're not touching them?"

Of course, the discussion quickly turned to the kernel's specialized CPU frequency governors being used by Android and in turn the Ubuntu Phone stack. However, it doesn't appear to be tied just to the current performance state/frequency but rather the number of cores powered up.

Daniel van Vugt followed up with, "It seems to be a Unity8-specific problem that once you're running a client app in a nested server, which itself is a client of the system compositor, then our overall system seems to require more hardware threads to perform adequately than the kernel is giving us. It's theoretically capable of providing more CPU cores, just mostly choosing not to."

Hopefully more kernel-level performance tuning of the Ubuntu Phone will take place in future OTA updates and prior to Ubuntu Phone being rolled out on more devices to avoid giving the appearance of this phone software being sluggish and performing poorly while still not quickly burning through the battery.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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