This is Why the Hummingbird Processor in the Samsung Galaxy S is Awesome


I often scoff when people say graphics performance in cellphones are important: I just don’t see how you can extract a decent gaming experience out of a device that wasn’t designed for the task (a brief moment of silence for the one failed exception to this concept: the Nokia N-Gage…). Then I saw this video:

The Samsung Galaxy S’s Hummingbird processor is equipped with a GPU that’s said to provide 3x more performance than competing processor architectures, and it really does show in the video above. Going up against an HTC Desire (which is housing a 1GHz Snapdragon processor), the Galaxy S handles the intense action of Quake 2 without breaking a sweat, with the Desire struggling to keep up.

Most games on the Android Market don’t require nearly as much juice as a port of Quake 2, but I’ll be damned if I ever said I wouldn’t appreciate having that beast of a GPU handling everything that I’m able to throw at it.

[Update]: And here’s Quake 3 (Otherwise known by its ported name: Kwaak3)

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. That reminds me of running quake 2 on an old 333mhz computer did the same stutter lock up

  2. Correction: It’s Quake 2, not Quake 3.

  3. I’d be interested to see that same comparison against the Droid X.

  4. The game in the video is Quake 2 not Quake 3… ;)

  5. This is the difference between a quality product as the Samsung and a product of poor quality.

  6. I think Droid X processor is going to match or beat hummingbird processor

  7. Do you have android 2.2 (froyo) here on Nexus or ist just android 2.1?

  8. Quake is old and tired :( I wanna see a better 1st person shooter.
    I own the Droid and plan on getting the X. I hope to see these frames per second match or beat the GalaxyS. X- ftw!!

  9. architects build the architecture.

  10. just a couple more weeks for my Vibrant.

  11. My moto droid runs that quake2 port just as smooth as galaxy s. That video doesn’t show how good the galaxy s is but how badly snapdragon handles 3D graphics. The true power of hummingbird remains to be seen :)

  12. …and then Samsung ruined the device with TouchWiz.

  13. @claudio, you are bad quality
    how can you say the desire or the snapdragon processor is bad quality?
    hummingbird is about 6 months younger than snapdragon, and thanks to a nice customization by samsung it performs like this. Give qualcomm a break

    btw, pretty cool sammy, way to go!

  14. @John
    ok, I am an Italian and as such I think I’m more objective than an American because Qualcomm is a processor of your nation. I’m not saying that Qualcomm sucks but I think that it isn’t comparable to certain like Cortex A8 processor. Htc, from what I know, has always problems even when it was running Windows Mobile. The HTC sometime uses materials of poor quality or not properly tested, something that Samsung and Motorola in my opinion do not. We’ll see what happens with other important brand like Lg and Acer , but in my opinion Htc it is not a reliable brand.

  15. @claudio

    The Desire is in no way poor quality its a superb handset, I’ve had mine since it was released and the build quality and general usabilty are superb. Of course a newer device will have better specs but that does not mean that the desire doesn’t kick most products into touch by a long way.

  16. @ckeegan: root it to be able to use the stock Android UI.

  17. @ James.

    It drives me nuts when the word architecture is used for computers. Architecture and Architects should only be in reference to buildings. Finding an architecture job these days is a real pain because of all the computer architect jobs clogging up the want ads. The last time I looked for a job, it was probably a 10:1 ratio of computer vs. architecture which made a lot of carp to sift through. (Although find any job these days is hard.)

  18. I think I might get the Galaxy S Captivate since I see the frame rate is much smoother than the Desire due thanks to the Hummingbird Processor which makes it move more fluid and clear than the Desire. Since the Desire isn’t on any Carrier NOR AT&T. But i have to see the Captivate test first before I make my decision.

  19. how the hell do i put quake on my phone?!!

  20. @jrex

    This article has a link to instructions, its pretty much impossible ta play well though without hardware controls but its worth it for the wow factor :)


  21. How are these games being played? It looks to me like these are just videos of someone playing the game, unless they’ve got some wireless keyboard attached somehow. Am I missing something?

  22. I’d like to see how an Incredible stacks up…

  23. I hope to see Android (and galaxy S of course) running Unreal engine 3!!! :D

  24. It’s so beautiful!

  25. Sadly the droid x will not be good enough, moto is still using the tired sgx 530, while sammy the sgx540. Which is better than the new iphones btw.

  26. NO!!!! But…. I… Idon’t want a Vibrant!!! I’m going to wait for that 4.3″ HTC phone that’s part of Project Emerald and… and I like HTC Sense better than Touchwiz and…. and That’s what I want! Nevermind the Vibrant will be coming SOON…. NO!!! Must… Not… Give…. In…..

    *sigh* F*ck you, Samsung.

  27. This why i’m getting the samsung vibrant in two weeks.. good job on fucking up the competition. you can say what you want about the vibrant but look what it can do. plus NO!! the droid x is not going to be better then the hummingbird processor.. the gpu on the vibrant is 90 million triangles/sec while y’all going to be running around(if you lucky)22 million a second or less. don’t get mad at me these are just the FACTS!

  28. That doesn’t look right. I think this is more of a driver issue than anything else. If they optimize the 3D driver in Quake 2 for Snapdragon it should be relatively smoother than that.

  29. Very impressive, although I still love my N1 I will be picking the Vibrant up for my girl (she’s quite the gamer).

  30. Already talked to a T-mobile rep that will hold a Samsung Vibrant for me when they get them in. :) That is what I call Customer Service!

  31. Combine hummingbird with a s-amoled screen with 16 million colors and a gyroscope and you have the most awesome game phone. oh wait…Samsung just did.

  32. But can it play crysis?

  33. All snapdragon processors should play the same. I wonder how it stacks up to the original Droid (stock and overclocked to 1ghz) which has a better GPU than the Snapdragon.

  34. now if i could actually get a Fascinate (or a Droid X) or any cool new phone in a store, i’d be even more excited. seriously, i just want to go buy one and not spend weeks or months wondering when a phone will ever be in stock.

  35. OK where is the UT2k3 port?

  36. I wanna see it compared to the droid and droid x

  37. the multitouch sensor in galaxy s is also much more advanced than the Desire.

  38. Why is everyone saying snapdragon should be equal to this? Snapdragon has a shit gpu. Sammy and TI processors are the best.

  39. The difference between the 2 is not a driver issue the Hummingbird processor has a GPU to perform the 3D work & shaders/lighting.

    Claudio, you are either very ignorant or a troll in this case both processors use a core licensed from ARM (a UK company) then Qualcomm, Samsung (or whoever) add their own extensions to cater for a particular market in the case of the hummingbird graphics performance was at the top of the list.

    re architecture: in although often misapplied in the media, it is actually very appropriate when discussing processor design. I suggest you read up on the matter.

  40. I thought galaxy S contained power VR …

  41. And BTW for those posters at the very top of the list saying the game in the video is Quake 2, ITS NOT!! It’s QUAKE III ARENA!!! >.<

  42. Probably better to get the nexus one even if it doesn’t look quite as good because the vibrant has no way to play without some keyboard attached.

  43. What processor Droid X uses? is it the same as the processor LG is going to use on its coming flagship Optimus Chic? The processor is made by Texas Instruments and LG says it consumes less power. The final showdown is between Samsung and Texas. htc is being stupid again.why is it still using snapdragon processor? LG has ditched snapdragon in favour of texas. unless htc ditch snapdragon,i am not going to buy htc phones again.snapdragon processor is not powerful.

  44. @RobC
    The performance of the game looks to be lagging in snapdragon because the game is not optimized for the GPU that is present in the desire. I agree that the GPU in Galaxy is superior, but optimizing it for snapdragon GPU will make it run equally smoothly on desire, if not better

    Many 3D games run better on Motorola/Samsung because they contain a similar GPU as that of the iPhone, and games are ported directly to android, making them run smoother on devices with similar GPU and stutter on different GPU.

  45. @ Claudio
    No, read the article. It’s the difference between a GPU/CPU combo and just a CPU.

  46. The Nexus One uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon QSD8250 which has an Adreno 200 GPU (some kind of ATi chip it seems)

    The Galaxy S a roughly similar cpu (iirc) and PowerVR SGX540 which is mile more powerful by all accounts.

    It’s a shame it’s unlikely to be fully exploited as it’s an outlyer in performance terms

  47. To those who are saying this is quake 2, and not quake 3. The second video is Quake 3 Arena. I have played the game when it first came out, and still play the game every once in awhile. It is a great game, and still one of the most addictive fragfests out there. Quake 4 was good, but didn’t live up to the hype. The only other fragfest shooter that got me as addicted was Unreal Championship on the original xbox. I do have to admit, this phone looks amazing. maybe, just maybe samsung can redeem themselves after the crap they called the behold 2… i’m still stuck with that garbage and am hoping to get the vibrant. it depends what kind of deal i can get for it.

  48. finally a quality android product (when i hear specs of other androids and hear snapdragon i think of a cheap chinese processor that will crap out in a month don’t know if thats true or not though)

  49. You are comparing Qualcomm’s last year processor with the latest and greatest of Samsung and TI, which by the way neither of them had a 1GH processor at the time. The latest and greatest Snapdragon from Qualcomm is a Dual core 1.3GHz (1.5GHZ also to be out very soon) which blows away the competition by a mile. So the competition needs to catch up again with Snapdragon.

  50. wow. i have the vibrant and after trading my hd2 in for it…man huge improvement. if htc would use the resources i know it has to make its own OS instead of the windows crap…its be a bada** phone. but, i laugh when i read the posts here. its all obviously a “my c*ck is bigger than yours” fest lol. who cares people. snapdragon will outdo samsung, then samsung will outdo snapdragon, then texas will take the lead and the cirle will go on. give it a rest guys, lol, as i really dont care what phone is better, my htc hd2 froze up more in a week than the 500 bucks i spent or it. then tmobile replaced it 7 times. lol oh boy right. now i have the vibrant, and i havent had an issue yet. (other than the battery icon isnt very accurate it seems….it will show half of the blue battery remaining but a warning will pop up saying you have 28% battery left….idk)but seriously guys, give it a rest. lol

  51. i have quake 2 on my touch pro 2 running android 2.2 overclocked at 700mhz. .. framerate is 10-12 fps. its choppy as hell but playable. LoL. ..my 2 cents

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