The Pixel 5 was somewhat of a disappointment in the performance department. At $700, it was $100 cheaper than the Pixel 4, but its performance really seemed more reminiscent of $300-400 mid-range phones than other $700 phones with more upmarket CPUs and GPUs. Thankfully, Google seems to be addressing that shortcoming with the Pixel 6, using a high-end Mali-G78 GPU.
Linux for Chromebooks has come a long way since Google introduced it in Chrome OS 69 a couple of years ago. On supported devices, it opened the door to an extensive library of desktop apps for users, like video editing tools and IDEs. GPU acceleration was an important milestone that made graphic intensive Linux app usable on Chrome OS. This is thanks to Virgil 3D, a component that allows the Linux container to tap into the hardware's GPU. In exciting news shared by Luke Short from VMware, Google is working on adding Vulkan passthrough into Virgil to improve app performance.
Nvidia hasn't exactly set the world on fire with its Tegra line of Arm-based mobile processors. Outside of its own excellent SHIELD hardware (and notably the Nintendo Switch), it's basically dead. But the company is hoping to breathe new life into its Arm ambitions by doubling down on what it does best: graphics. In a press release, Nvidia announced that it's working with major chip supplier MediaTek to combine Arm-based architecture with its RTX line of graphics cards.
Smartphone graphics have improved quite a bit over the past decade, but they're still a far cry from what dedicated gaming machines are capable of. The idea of a phone with the horsepower of a home game console has always been an exciting prospect, and now Samsung is partnering up with hardware manufacturer AMD to (hopefully) make it happen.
While Samsung's devices in North America have used Snapdragon processors for years, the company also develops its own Exynos processors for international models. But when it comes to graphics, Samsung still uses ARM's 'Mali' GPU family across all its phones and tablets. According to a new job listing on LinkedIn, Samsung wants to develop its own GPUs for a wide range of devices - including phones.
A pretty nifty new feature was talked about at last night's Android Fireside Chat. In addition to the other O features and the rest of the announcements at I/O, it was revealed that we'll soon be able to update our graphics drivers through the Play Store. This is a feature that is presumably only going to be present in O. There's no word yet on the specifics as to how that might work, or which OEMs or chipset manufacturers might be interested in taking advantage of it, but as of yesterday we know it's coming.
Most Android devices use ARM processors, usually with ARM's 'Mali' display unit to render graphics. Usually every new Mali upgrade is a small incremental improvement over the previous design, but not this time around. ARM has taken the wraps off 'Mali-Cetus,' the company's next-generation display processor.
On paper, Little Briar Rose isn't anything particularly exciting. It's a competent side-scrolling adventure title, a rookie effort from developer Elf Games, that retells the Grimm fairy tale of the same name. But the game's visuals, painstakingly crafted to look like an animated stained glass window on every frame, are downright breathtaking. In a sea of pixelated graphics and safe me-too styles, Little Briar Rose is a breath of fresh air.
Games are a little more complicated to review than apps. Maybe the story and premise are intriguing and engulfing, but the controls are horrible. Or maybe the graphics are gorgeous, but the gameplay is terribly bad. What rating do you give? You might err toward an average rating, but wouldn't it be better if there was an easy way to specify which aspects were good and which were disappointing, for the benefit of the devs as well as other users?
One Play Store interface change might solve that problem. New Feature Ratings circles have started showing up for some users, letting them see separate ratings for a game's controls, gameplay, and graphics.
The Vulkan graphics API is a big deal for mobile developers, since its direct GPU access allows for complex graphics to be rendered with a considerably lower hit to the processor, and thus a lower overhead on the hardware and battery life. A few devices like the SHIELD family and Samsung's 7 series already supported Vulkan several months ago, but Nougat now features full support for all updated Android 7.0 devices. Developer Super Evil Megacorp, which turned heads last year with its Vainglory mobile MOBA, now has a beta version that uses the Vulkan API.