Splashtop 2 is Here and Faster on Devices Featuring Qualcomm Snapdragon Processors

Tuesday 11/6/12 07:27am
Posted By William Frantz
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Imagine having the ability to remotely access your home computer from your phone, anytime, anywhere. Over 10 million users have discovered how Splashtop puts tower power into a smartphone sized pocket. It's like a little window into your home machine. You can launch programs, watch videos and adjust settings just as if you were sitting at your keyboard. The Splashtop system consists of a Streamer service installed on your home computer combined with a Remote Desktop app running on your Android smartphone. Using the two in concert equals convenience. It's no wonder why Splashtop Remote Desktop is consistently one of the top productivity apps available in several stores, including Google Play.

Power vs. Convenience

Personally, I like to use Splashtop for quick access to my Mac at home. As much as I like my 27 inch, terabyte iMac, it weighs over 30 pounds and rarely leaves my house. When I'm out and about, I only carry the 5 ounce Motorola Atrix HD which has a more compact 720p, 4.5 inch display and features a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ processor. As much as I like the Atrix HD, sometimes I want home videos from my iPhoto library. Fortunately, I keep Splashtop Streamer running on my iMac and now I can easily watch any family video from my terabyte library no matter how far away from home I travel.

Faster on Snapdragon

Splashtop has always been good but it just got better. Version 2.0 was release this week and is now hardware optimized for Snapdragon processors. Not only will you notice that Remote Desktop is faster, smoother and more responsive than before, but you may also see your battery lasts longer. The reason is because Snapdragon processors include a hardware accelerated video core that is capable of decoding high definition video without burdening the general CPU. You may not think of it as such but Splashtop is actually a streaming video app. The Splashtop Streamer software on your home computer captures the display and converts it into a video stream which is decoded by the Splashtop Remote Desktop app. That's why the Snapdragon dedicated hardware for video processing plays such an important roll.

When I heard that Snapdragon optimization was coming in Splashtop 2, I decided to measure the difference for myself using the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) from the Android SDK. First I loaded up the Atrix HD with the older Splashtop Remote Desktop and installed Splashtop Streamer on my iMac. I launched the app and remotely connected to my iMac. Of course the Atrix did a great job of displaying my Mac desktop, but the CPU was hard at work. I could see this, because I connected the Atrix to a PC through a USB cable and used the following ADB command to isolate the CPU utilization of Splashtop

C:>adb shell top | grep splashtop
 3782  1  62% S    40 541372K  65380K  fg app_157  com.splashtop.remote
 3782  1  64% S    40 541372K  65380K  fg app_157  com.splashtop.remote
 3782  0  66% S    40 541372K  65380K  fg app_157  com.splashtop.remote
 3782  0  66% R    40 541372K  65380K  fg app_157  com.splashtop.remote
 3782  0  65% S    40 541372K  65396K  fg app_157  com.splashtop.remote
 3782  0  65% S    40 541372K  65396K  fg app_157  com.splashtop.remote

Yikes! That's about 65% of the Atrix being chewed up by Splashtop. That still leaves some cycles for other tasks, but it's a heavy load for one app. Hoping to see an improvement, I upgraded my iMac to Splashtop Streamer and upgraded my Atrix HD to Splashtop Remote Desktop 2.0. Again, I launched the app and connected to my iMac. Immediately I noticed a difference. The older version of Splashtop worked well, but version 2 was clearly smoother and more responsive. I went back to ADB and quickly found out why.

C:>adb shell top | grep splashtop
 6399  0  17% S    45 582132K  70800K  fg app_157  com.splashtop.remote
 6399  1  17% S    43 580052K  71120K  fg app_157  com.splashtop.remote
 6399  1  18% S    43 580052K  71120K  fg app_157  com.splashtop.remote
 6399  0  18% S    43 580052K  71120K  fg app_157  com.splashtop.remote
 6399  0  16% S    43 580052K  71120K  fg app_157  com.splashtop.remote
 6399  1  17% S    43 580052K  71120K  fg app_157  com.splashtop.remote

Wow! The new version of Splashtop requires just 17% of the CPU and looks better doing it. Now that is an efficient app! With version 2 there are more CPU cycles available for other tasks and there is less power required from the battery.

Normalized CPU using Trepn

The “top” command is useful but it doesn’t tell the whole story. For more accurate measurements, Qualcomm Technologies has created a new version of Trepn™ Profiler that calculates “normalized CPU usage” over a period of time. This number provides a more accurate and average view of app performance. First, it measures all the processes that an app might create rather than just one subprocess. Second, it compensates for CPUs that run at varying clock speeds. For example, the Snapdragon processor will actually slow down the CPU when there is not much work to do in order to increase battery life. Trepn Profiler now takes that clock speed into account and presents a single, normalized number for an entire app.

Using Trepn Profiler, Splashtop showed a normalized CPU improvement from 71% to just 48%. Shown below are images of Trepn Profiler drawing a real-time graph of CPU usage on top of Splashtop 2 and then reporting the final average after a short run.

Splashtop screenshot 1Splashtop screenshot 2

Optimize Your App

Dedicated hardware for video processing is just one of the many features Qualcomm Snapdragon processors include to enable compelling user experiences with excellent power efficiency. Just like Splashtop, you too can harness that power to create innovative multimedia apps. If you'd like to optimize your app for the video processing functionality of devices featuring Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, check out the Snapdragon Mobile Development Platform available from Bsquare and our Video Codec Sample Application.