Google’s popular Nexus 7 tablet is at the bleeding edge of the consumer tablet market with its brand new OS (Android 4.1 Jelly Bean), NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 quad-core processor and features like NFC. Now some clever developers over at XDA have pushed the device to its limits with the release of a new kernel (the core of the Android operating system) that is able to tweak the Nexus 7’s CPU and overclock it to 2.0GHz!
The stock Nexus 7 runs at 1.2GHz (and 1.3 GHz when using only a single core), so the push to 2.0 GHz means increasing the frequency by 800 MHz, a factor of 1.6. Overclocking can be a tricky business, as not only does the main CPU frequency need to be changed but the GPU frequency needs to be regulated as well. On top of this, there is the issue of the core CPU voltage (which generally needs to be increased) and the temperature of the CPU. What this means, in real terms, is that the right balance between frequency, voltage and stability needs to be found.
It looks as if the kernel developers clemsyn and simms22 have struck that balance as they have their tablets running at 2.0GHz. A standard Nexus 7 scores about 3570 on the Quadrant CPU, I/O and 3D graphics benchmarking program; for comparison, an HTC One X scores around 4500. Using the new tweaked kernel, simms22 managed to score 8000. This new record smashed the 7130 scored by the developer ‘Morfic’ who overclocked his Nexus 7 to 1.64 GHz per core.
There are faster versions of the Tegra 3 on the market. The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity uses a 1.6 GHz clocked Tegra 3 T33, while the HTC One X, mentioned earlier, uses a Tegra 3 T30 which runs at 1.4Ghz when using all four cores. The main reason that the lower speed CPU is used in the Nexus 7 is battery life. More megahertz means more power consumption which, in turn, means less battery life.
However the efforts (and skills) of the XDA developers are to be applauded. Are the days of stock 2.0GHz tablets and phones just around the corner? Do you prefer speed over battery life? Let me know by leaving a comment below.