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01-31-2014 07:28 AM
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  1. a5cent's Avatar
    I remain to be convinced about a lot of this alleged optimisation. Most hardware features, e.g. graphics acceleration, are quite well standardised and Android can make use of them just as well as WP. Other critical points for performance as CPU speed, number of cores, memory capacity, memory bandwidth, flash performance, etc, which are not something the software can be optimised for. What specific hardware features and performance characteristics do you have in mind?
    I don't think you have the technical background to understand those issues. Just your assertion that "the number of cores is not something that software can be optimized for" is completely false. The exact opposite is true, namely that those cores are only taken advantage of if software is explicitly designed to make use of them. Most of your other assertions are also false, particularly in regard to graphics acceleration. The characteristics of every GPU are very different... it's anything but standardized. I'm not sure what I could say to convince you however. Tell me what you'd need and I will try and provide it.

    Anyway, if it was as simple as you assume, we would have long seen WP on a whole host of different SoCs, not just on Qualcomm chips.
    01-29-2014 01:42 AM
  2. anony_mouse's Avatar
    I don't think you have the technical background to understand those issues. Just your assertion that "the number of cores is not something that software can be optimized for" is completely false. The exact opposite is true, namely that those cores are only taken advantage of if software is explicitly designed to make use of them. Most of your other assertions are also false, particularly in regard to graphics acceleration. The characteristics of every GPU are very different... it's anything but standardized. I'm not sure what I could say to convince you however. Tell me what you'd need and I will try and provide it.

    Anyway, if it was as simple as you assume, we would have long seen WP on a whole host of different SoCs, not just on Qualcomm chips.
    I can assure you I have the technical background to understand these issues. I have run projects to port software stacks (including modern OS's) between chipsets and processor platforms, including porting components myself. I understand the pain of staying up all night fixing weird bugs that appear on one platform and not another, the shouting at chipset vendors when they finally admit their products don't work according to the specification, and the joy of getting it working seconds before the deadline.

    Now, I agree with you about graphics hardware. What I said was wrong (written too early in the morning). What is more standardised are the software interfaces (OpenGL, DirectX). The chipset vendor will normally supply a driver for the GPU, presenting one of those interfaces which can be used directly by the OS.

    Regarding number of cores - I agree that my point was also poorly expressed. Software can, of course, be optimised for the number of processor cores. However, except for very specific cases, it would be be a bad idea to write an application or OS specifically targetting, say, two cores. What you would do is allow the code to scale to make use of the available cores - for a simple example, starting as many threads as there are cores, and dividing the work between them (there might also be good reasons to start more or fewer threads than the number of cores).
    Optimisations can also be made for available RAM. Memory bandwidth and cache management can be absolutely critical to performance, but optimisation here is very hard and often targets extremely restricted uses.

    What you end up with is a set of parameters that can be tuned, or that the OS and applications automatically adapt to. Whoever is doing the porting (Microsoft for WP, the handset vendor for Android) will choose some sensible parameters, and perhaps play with them a bit to find what works best, as in practice, optimisation is something of an art and results are not always what you expect.

    I don't really agree that porting WP to other chipsets would be that hard. Android handset vendors do this all the time, and WP and Android are not fundamentally very different from a technical perspective. Both are modular, pre-emptive multitasking OS's with architectures ultimately derived from MULTICS. For some reason, Microsoft have chosen to restrict the OS to Qualcomm chips. Given appropriate support from Microsoft, I expect it would be quite possible to port WP to ARM-based non-Qualcomm chipsets without major difficulty. Android is even officially supported on ARM and x86, and has been ported to MIPS, so even moving to different processor types is possible when source code is available.

    As for what I need to know? Well, I don't need to know anything, but I would be curious:
    - Is my analysis in the paragraph above correct? Or is there something fundamental that ties WP to Qualcomm chips and means it would be very difficult to run it on, say, an Nvidia device?
    - What do Microsoft actually do when they 'optimise' WP for a specific chipset? What do they change compared to the 'generic WP' they presumably develop internally?
    01-29-2014 06:21 AM
  3. anony_mouse's Avatar
    I could write you a very long business analysis on that topic, but it's not really related to this thread, and I don't think it's worth getting into anymore. It's already been discussed to death anyway, and if you still think Nokia could have pulled that off, I probably can't convince you otherwise, not to mention that it's all very hypothetical... interesting, sure, but not really relevant anymore.

    Most of my argument would boil down to Nokia having to split their resources between WP and Android, basically making them ineffective in both markets. Nokia wouldn't have been able to achieve anything more HTC did with WP, and I don't see how half-a-Nokia could have gone up against Samsung, at least not in Europe or the U.S. where the high margin devices are sold. IMHO the dual Android-WP theory only works out if you are willing to ignore economics. I'll just leave it at that.
    I don't think it would have been impossible from an economic point of view. As I said, many other smartphone vendors sell both Android and WP devices, and some (e.g. HTC) are rather smaller than Nokia.

    Having said that, of course you're right that it would have cost more money to adopt both. The first question (which we can't answer) is whether Nokia would have sold enough extra phones to make it worthwhile.

    The second question (which is not for this thread) is this - once Nokia had decided to go with only one platform, why on earth choose WP? (*)

    (*): One answer is the huge subsidy that MS give to Nokia - approximately USD 2.75 million per day, I believe. To quote Mrs Merton: "So, why did you marry the millionaire Paul Daniels?".
    01-29-2014 06:34 AM
  4. a5cent's Avatar
    I don't think it would have been impossible from an economic point of view.
    And neither do I, but that was never the question. The hypothetical question was not if such a dual pronged approach was possible, but whether it would have lead Nokia to greater success. That greater chance of success is what I think can be quite easily dismissed, for reasons that boil down to economics, but which I won't detail any further. Either it makes sense to you or it doesn't. HTC is a good example of such an indecisive and expectedly failing company.

    The scenario where Nokia would have focused all their efforts on Android is much more complicated. I don't have strong opinions on how that would have ended, but it's all speculation anyway, so I think we can lay this topic to rest.

    Your second post regarding optimization is infinately better than your first. I will get back to you on that later (writing from my phone won't work for that one)
    01-29-2014 10:39 AM
  5. micallan_17's Avatar
    if this is the case and Microsoft does wind up moving to release this device, I will likely go ahead and move to an iPhone 5s and or 6 because that tells me Microsoft truly has no faith in their own operating system to use the very OS of a competitor not playing fair with them.
    Totally agree with you on that, I hope it (Nokia X) never sees the light of day.
    Nogitsune Micah likes this.
    01-29-2014 09:38 PM
  6. anony_mouse's Avatar
    Your second post regarding optimization is infinately better than your first. I will get back to you on that later (writing from my phone won't work for that one)
    That's nice of you to say so. As I said, I have a lot of experience in this area. However, none of it is with Windows Phone so I'm happy to be corrected if any of my points don't apply to it.

    BTW, I did think of a reason why Microsoft might need to restrict WP to a small number of chipsets. Normally, I would expect a chip vendor to do a lot of the work to get standard OS(s) running on their platform - or at the very least to supply drivers and support. I am sure that Qualcomm supply a working version of Android for their chips, running on some reference board. However, it might be that they won't do this for WP, as the volumes are relatively small. If this is the case, then Microsoft have to do much more themselves. Or perhaps they have to pay Qualcomm to do it. It still shouldn't be a massive job to bring up WP on a new chipset, but it could be rather more effort for them than it is for a company using Android. Of course, if this is the case, it's better for Microsoft to talk about 'optimisation', rather than a lack of support from chipset vendors.

    Anyway, just speculation, but sometimes you have to 'follow the money' to understand why apparently strange decisions are made.
    Last edited by anony_mouse; 01-31-2014 at 06:57 AM.
    01-31-2014 06:35 AM
  7. a5cent's Avatar
    Anyway, just speculation, but sometimes you have to 'follow the money' to understand why apparently strange decisions are made.
    In that case hats off to you good sir. Bullseye! There is a bit more to it, but you're off to a very good start. As for the second part... I have no idea if MS pays Qualcomm money for their support, but it is true that both companies mutually staff the teams that develop the chipset drivers for WP. That those efforts begin only after hardware development has stabilised, is partly responsible for MS not being able to get WP devices to market as fast as their Android counterparts...

    I haven't forgotten this thread. It's just that I'm on the road this week and there is no way I'll be able to tackle this using only a smartphone... probably this weekend...
    Last edited by a5cent; 01-31-2014 at 10:43 AM.
    01-31-2014 07:28 AM
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