Keyan Mobli (@Kmobs) is a 19 year old Android developer. He is currently a Sophomore at the University of Texas. He is majoring in Neurobiology with hopes of going on to medical school.
His love for technology began at age 9, when his dad took him into the garage where a disassembled computer was waiting. He told little Kmobs to assemble it; he did and he’s been hooked ever since. While technology and working with computers interest him, understanding the way the human body functions is his real passion.
His recent work with the Android kernel has gained quite a bit of notoriety and we recently had the opportunity for a little Q&A with Keyan. Enjoy!
Q – What is it about the Android Community that made you want to become a contributing member?
A – The fact that Android is so open is what really made me want to contribute. I’ve been following the Githubs of many of the developers forever just to see the changes that they make. I have very little background in coding (just a little bit in high school) but watching their changes has allowed me to learn a great deal. Shafty023, TheDudesAndroid, kb7sqi, barakinflorida and countless others have taught me a lot of what I know. We really do talk behind the scenes! I wanted to be able to join these guys in helping out the community and decided to jump into a field I have some experience with, overclocking.
Q – What made you want to focus on the OC-UV aspect of the Nexus One ROM?
A – I can’t really take all of the credit for this one. I released the first OC and UV kernels for everyone to use, but it couldn’t have been done without the changes that coolbho3k outlined in his thread. He’s really the one that mapped everything out. I just played with the values to find something that works for the masses. Pershoot and I have been talking heavily as well and if anyone hasn’t noticed, he’s the one handling the recent OC-UVs while I focus on just the UVs. Together we were able to narrow down the amount voltages needed (by basically testing them in the threads). But I started with the OC in the first place because I have a long history of overclocking my hardware and why should my phone be any different? I enjoy pushing hardware to the limits simply because we can. In case you haven’t heard about it, we got TheDudesAndroid’s phone to 1.267ghz.
Q – Without getting too technical (if that’s possible), what do you do to improve upon the battery life of the nexus one rom as much as you do? I mean, your kernel makes such a difference.
A – Well look at it this way, at each frequency, the system assigns a voltage to be supplied to the processor. In the UV kernels, I lower the voltages at each frequency slightly so that the system ends up supplying less power to the processor. Each frequency has its own voltage, so it is a lot of trial and error. But by lowering the voltages, you retain the same clockspeed with the bonus of saving a significant amount of battery power.
Q – Do you think overclocking the nexus one, even by 10%, is going to have any long term impact (damage) to the processor?
A – Well running any processor out of specs will affect it’s longevity, but, that being said, I highly doubt that our overclock will damage the phone. The Snapdragon is the chip platform, and on the platform is the Scorpion core. This core has a potential max speed of 1.267ghz. However, the processors in the Nexus One are capped to 1.0ghz. All processors are different because of minor differences when they are made. This is common in desktop processors as well. For example, it may be possible that a 2.0, a 2.2 and a 2.4ghz Intel processor are made from the same “blueprint,” but they yield different amounts. Processor companies run tests on these processors and categorize them. If a processor fails at 2.4ghz, they lower it to 2.2 and see how it runs. Almost all processors are capable of a 10% overclock because the manufacturers play it safe with the clocking of the chips. I’m not sure if the process is exactly the same with mobile processors, but it wouldn’t surprise me. My theory is that the chips that failed at 1.0ghz were put in the Acer Liquid, and those that failed at 1.267ghz were put in the Nexus. The ones that succeed at 1.267ghz will probably go into future devices such as the Supersonic. Now that I’ve put that out there, let me return to the 1.113ghz Nexus. Like I said before, manufacturers play it safe, and that is why we haven’t seen any problems with Nexuses at 1.113ghz. Because they are running at stock voltages and such, I don’t see any damage occurring in the foreseeable future. On a side note, TheDudesAndroid’s device is the only device we have successfully gotten to reach 1.267ghz, but don’t expect a release of that kernel due to the dangers that can be associated with it.
Q – Your .32 kernel adds significantly to the Nexus One battery life (especially on Cyanogen’s 188.8.131.52 ROM). Do you think that aspect of your kernel is something that Google might adopt in a future update?
A – Well if you look at the most recent Qualcomm source, they undervolted the lower frequencies slightly and that’s what gave me the idea originally. I just checked at the time of writing this response and it turns out that they have lowered the higher frequencies slightly as well. I doubt, however, that Google will incorporate these undervolted values. Originally they wanted to ship the device at 1.3v, but ended up changing it to 1.275v. I highly doubt that they will take it lower.
Q – Do you plan on working on other ROMs besides the Nexus One? Your kernel works on Paul’s Desire but it is not optimized?
A – I don’t have the most recent source that Paul is using on his kernel, but my kernels should work across the board as long as the users push the appropriate modules.
Q – What happened with the .33 Kernel that made you revert back to .32?
A – The .33 kernel was just a test. It’s still in the test directory on the Android git, and after prolonged testing it simply isn’t ready for prime time. It had reduced battery life as well as graphical artifacts for some users. Because of that, we decided to revert to .32 until the issues are sorted out. I do miss some of the speed improvements that .33 brought though.
Q – How is Pershoot involved in your work with overclocking/undervolting?
A – Pershoot and I have been talking a great deal behind the scenes. He’s very knowledgeable on the subject at hand and definitely knows more than me when it comes to kernel work. He and coolbho3k actually rewrote part of the acpuclock-scorpion.c file in order to allow us to unlock all of the frequencies instead of a predefined amount. Like I previously mentioned, he’s actually doing the OC-UV updates while I stick with the UV updates. There’s no point in two people releasing the same thing, so we teamed up and this way everyone wins. I think he may be moving on to bigger and better things now that we nailed down the voltage table though.
Q – Do you have any other ideas in the pipeline that you are working on?
A – Dwang and I recently finished with the capacitive button fix (where we lowered the placement of the buttons to be more intuitive), so recently I have been working on modifying the Launcher to have 5 apps per row in the app drawer. It seems feasible, but there are a lot of factors in play with it. I can’t wait to see where the community as a whole goes. Look how much the G1 has changed in just a year and a half and I feel that the Nexus will be no different.
And now for the serious stuff…
Q – Your back up phone is the pebble? What’s up with that?
A – Oh the PEBL.. I don’t know where to begin with this. My recent phones have consisted of an ETEN GLOFIISH, HTC Kaiser, G1, CLIQ, and now a Nexus. The GLOFIISH I sold to buy the Kaiser, and the Kaiser I sold for my G1. I bought the Nexus without selling anything, but when I got it, I gave the G1 to my mom in order to retire her old T-Mobile Wing. The CLIQ is a dev phone and because of that, I’m not using it as a backup. It’s probably in bootloops more often then it is actually fully functional. The PEBL was the phone that my mom had before she bought her Wing. I brought it with me to Austin last year just in case my G1 broke. It’s been sitting in a drawer since it came up here and well. I guess now I have a use for it. On the plus side, I got the replacement Nexus from HTC in a day so the horror wasn’t long lived
Q – Be honest, that’s not really your moms Pebl, is it? Mmkay…
A – Well I did kinda convince my mom to get this color because its cute…she had no idea I had plans to steal it. This phone has aged well though. I mean…despite the fact that it can only hold 30 text messages…and the screen is a third of the size of my nexus…and its pretty much a piece of crap. But other than that, its aged well.
Q – If you had a logo, what would it be? I’m guessing there would be a sammich…I’d wear a @Kmobs sammich hoodie…in fact, I think @WootRoot and I have business to discuss…
A – Banhammer.
Q – Are you going to replace that embarrassing backup phone you have with a Motorola Backflip? Yea, I knew you were…
A – Heh, I just flamed two people for liking the Backflip. Irony at its greatest. Why would someone want a YAHOO! phone instead of a Google one? I will never understand.
Q – How much do you hate me right now? Just answer the d@mn questions.
A – I’m laughing so hard right now. Its like you came up with the most ridiculous list of questions of all time. There’s no hate anywhere!
Q – Honestly, how much do @TheDudesAndroid, @ChrisSoyars and @WootRoot annoy you? I mean, they’re like your little puppy dogs…lame. You know you’re better than them, don’t be modest.
A – I was flashing TheDudesAndroid’s ROMs sooo long ago. I have so much respect for him. He really is one of the original Android devs. Once I got to know him, he’s an awesome guy too, which was nice. Chris Soyars is a character…but a very smart character. Plus, how can you dislike someone in a snuggie?! As far as WootRoot goes, everyone loves him.
Q – When are you going to invest in a better mic? Mush mouth
A – My microphone is actually really great. I use it on ventrilo all the time. The only reason that you guys can’t hear it is because tinychat is dependent on micboost and I have that disabled. Its a tinychat fail, not a kmobs fail.
Q – Would you date a girl that hated Android and owned an iPhone? If you say yes…
A – My girlfriend actually makes that joke all the time. I can’t count how many times shes told me that shes going to switch to an iPhone just to get under my skin. For example, when the nexus got the multitouch update she just said that we were copying the iPhone. But trust me, shes an android at heart and one of these days I’ll get her one.. Too bad shes on AT&T though.
Since this interview was conducted, a second Nexus One (@rikupw’s) was able to overlock to 1.267GHz and Google made available the Nexus One for AT&T bands…now Kmobs can buy his girlfriend one.
We’d really like to thank Kmobs for his time…and patience. Follow him on Twitter, @Kmobs.
Interview conducted by Joseph Swipes and Cara Hulett.