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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
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. Read More
Benchmarking applications like 3DMark and PassMark are great for scoring the graphics or computational power of a given device. Nenamark 2 was a popular choice for benchmarking graphics back in the day, and five years after Nenamark 2 launched, Nenamark 3 has arrived. It's not clear why.
I hesitate to even call Nenamark 3 a benchmarking app. It's designed like a game - the benchmark proceeds through levels, each level having up to four tests. But the benchmark ends as soon as your device can't reach a steady FPS arbitrarily determined by the Nenamark app. So instead of a useful score like an average FPS or the time it took to complete the test, my Nexus 5X gets a score of "3-0." Read More
Unless you regularly develop video games or other visually-intensive programs, you probably don't know what Vulkan is. That's OK. But if you are in the habit of developing visually complex apps for Android, the news that Google plans to support the Vulkan API is a big deal indeed. And it looks like the company intends to jump into the Vulkan pool with both feet: Google has just hired an entire team of dedicated Vulkan developers and folded them into the Android team.
Here's the gist: Vulkan is a cross-platform, low-overhead graphics API created by a consortium called Khronos (get it?). The advantage of Vulkan over other standards is that it gives developers direct access to GPU hardware, allowing a game to manually manage things like GPU cores and memory. Read More
Some graphical benchmarks are meant to be fairly boring but reliable tests of visual output - the reliable Quadrant benchmark from Aurora Softworks is a good example. Others create an intense graphical test by making a fully-realized 3D environment, essentially a tech demo that's meant to be a digital ruler for the performance of competing components or devices. 3DMark's Android benchmark, with its space battle cutscene, is one of these tests.
Now there's an alternative version of 3DMark. It tests the same technical parameters: frames per second, physics engine accuracy, power output, that sort of thing. The only thing that's different is the 3D cutscene. Read More