Before we give you a laymen’s explanation of what sustained performance mode does, let’s start with a little background about how our SoCs work in situations where they are being pushed to the limit.Android N’s 3rd preview is mostly about adding a few coats of extra polish to the mix, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything new. For example, the latest preview introduces a sustained performance mode that aims to make long-running apps run much more smoothly.
A smartphone’s SoC is great at spinning up quickly, loading an app and then many of the processes go back to sleep in order to save power. For apps that push the CPU and GPU for extended periods however, things start to heat up. Literally. Generally this heat isn’t too alarming but in the case of chipsets like the Snapdragon 810, the mobile device can actually get uncomfortably warm. In order to prevent things from going too far, our phone’s are designed to throttle the SoC when things get hot. This throttling results in lag, stutters, and other noticeable performance issues.
Okay, so we know that’s a pain. Thankfully, that’s where sustained performance mode would come into play. The new API would allow “OEMs to provide hints about device-performance capabilities for long-running apps. App developers can use these hints to tune apps for a predictable, consistent level of device performance over long periods of time.” According to Google this API is available for developers to try in the latest N Developer Preview, but only for the Nexus 6P. We imagine that the mode will come to plenty of other devices when the final version of Android N lands, however.
This new API certainly sounds like a dream come true, and something that could be really useful for gaming. Particularly in the case of Daydream VR, as sustained performance is something that Samsung has had troubles with when it comes to the Gear VR, particularly during its earlier Innovator Edition days. The future looks bright, ladies and gents.