Linaro may not yet be a familiar name in the Android community, but it should be very soon. You see, Linaro is the name of a group of software engineers who optimize Linux and open source software for ARM processors like those found in most Android smartphones, working to get the most performance possible out of the low-power processors. The team has brought their talents over to the Android world in the form of a specially optimized build of Android 4.0.4, and boy is the result impressive.
In the video above, you can see two identical pieces of hardware running a graphics benchmark, with the only difference being that one is powered by stock Android, and the other is running a Linaro customized build. As you might expect, the results are quite impressive. Not only does the Linaro build finish running the oxbBench benchmark quite a while before the AOSP build, it scores nearly twice as high, with about 60 fps to AOSP’s 30 fps. There have also been quite a number of less formal benchmarks, showing less drastic but still very good results with Linaro.
While the test above was performed on TI boards with OMAP4430 processors, the tweaks will apply to all ARM-based Android devices. Thanks to the power of open source and dedicated developers, you can already get some very early builds of Linaro Android 4.0 for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, although they are obviously in the very early stages. Currently, the only way to get Linaro tweaks on other devices is for a developer to compile a ROM with the tweaks for your specific device, but that could soon change. The CyanogenMod team has already begun adding some of the tweaks into their project’s source code, and the Linaro team has also submitted their changes to Google for inclusion in the AOSP code. The Linaro team’s tweaks are so good, in fact, that Google employee and technical lead of the AOSP project Jean-Baptiste Queru has said that the changes are in fact being added to the main Android source code, which would make them available to all Android 4.0 devices.
They may not come around often, but tweaks like this are why I love that Android is open source. It allows amazing developers like those in the Linaro team to make changes that perhaps Google never thought of, and have them added in to the official Android source to benefit all users. I haven’t had a chance to try the Linaro ROM on my Galaxy Nexus just yet, but as soon as I do I will be sure to give everyone an update on its real life performance as well as benchmark scores.