Most of the time, mobile GPU comparisons involve benchmarks such as Antutu, Nenamark 2, etc…, or people may consider which games will be able to run smoothly with a particular device, but we seldom compare image quality, for the simple reason it’s usually more difficult to achieve.
YOUi Labs has just done that, however, by running the shader code below on several hardware platforms, mainly Android tablets, with the most common mobile GPUs, and used the results obtained with a Desktop PC GPU, Nvidia Geforce GT 630M, has a reference.
The worst GPUs are Mali-400 MP4 in Exynos 4412 and Geforce ULP in Tegra 3, which can respectively only show 5 and 8 lines before degradation, and the top two GPUs are Qualcomm Adreno 225 in MSM8660A, and Vivante GC4000 in HiSilicon K3V2 processor. Imagination Technologies SGX544 and ARM Mali-T604 also provide decent results, but just not as good as the two aforementioned.
YOUi Labs has also released a free Android app called Shader Effect Test that allows you to evaluate your GPU floating-point accuracy by running visual effects tests on your own device, but for some reasons it does not include the code above.
The company explains that if you plan to run this application on your hardware, this demo will push your GPU and/or drivers to the limits so it may crash, or some shaders may appear off-center or incorrectly positioned. They explain this is normal, at least for some hardware.
I’ve tried it on AMLogic AML8726-MX hardware (Mali-400 MP2), and some of the tests do not look pretty at all, but I can’t draw any conclusion as I haven’t tried with other SoCs.
Shader Effects on Mali-400MP2 (Click to Enlarge)
Shader Effects on Mali-400MP2 (Click to Enlarge)
I’m pretty sure it’s possible to draw smooth edges and properly rounded 3D balls with Mali-400 MP2, but the natures of the tests required more precision than this GPU can handle.
I’ve only seen Qualcomm SoC in smartphones and tablets, as well as their own development boards, but Inforce Computing has just changed that thanks to IFC6410 single-board computer powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064 quad core krait processor @ 1.7GHz. This Pico-ITX SBC comes with 2GB RAM and 4GB eMMC flash, HDMI out, Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi and more.
Temperature Range – Operating: 0 to 70 C | Storage: -20 to 80 C
Relative Humidity – 5 to 95% non-condensing
IFC6410 SBC Block Diagram
The company will provide board support packages for both Linux and Android. You may want to watch the board introduction video below for an overview of the board.
IFC6410 is a production-ready board with compliant with RoHS and WEE standard. It will be available in May, but you can pre-order it now, or rather register your interest, for just $149 (+shipping) via IFC6410 page. With the cancellation of OPENBRIX Zero board, this is the cheapest “Cortex A15 class” board that I know of (Even though technically speaking Krait is not Cortex A15, but the performance is about the same), and with 4 cores it will even more powerful than the Arndale board.
As I previously wrote, FOSDEM organizers are slowly uploading FOSDEM 2013 videos. One of the most interesting talk “Open ARM GPU Drivers” is now available. I’ve also uploaded it to YouTube (embedded below) to give it more exposure. Luc Verhaegen has also written a recent blog post entitled “Hey ARM!” where he announces the release of the modified source for Quake 3 Arena demo, and asks ARM to join them in making an open source driver.
Open ARM GPU Drivers @ FOSDEM2013
This session covers the following key points:
Problem – Binary drivers are mainly designed to run in Android, and it’s very difficult to have proper GPU drivers for Linux, and companies are not interested to release open source drivers or even just documentation, as they are not convinced it will benefit them in any way.
Legal – This is actually the main issue, as open sourcing existing driver is a legal nightmare, and may cost a lot of money.
ARM Mali Overview – Mali-200/400, 450 & T6xx
Lima Project Status – No big secrets left in command-stream, compiler is tough due to Mali architecture, and actual driver work will start after FOSDEM. Full GNU/linux systems available.
Qualcomm Adreno Overview – Adreno 2xx/3xx
Freedreno Project Status – WIP driver. Command-stream and Shader architecture is mostly known. WIP xf86 (exa), mesa (gallium) drivers available. No proper GNU/linux available (The developer is currently using Android)
Nvidia Geforce ULP (Tegra) Overview
Tegra-re Project Status – Early research, early shader disassembler and early command stream capture. Limited availability of GNU/linux systems (AC-100, Trimslice).
Etnaviv project Status – Early research: Slowly prying apart command stream, full command stream capture and replay, and shader disassembler and assembler.
Broadcom Videocore Overview
The Raspberry Pi is a closed platform – “Open source” driver release by the Raspberry Pi foundation is just a shim (message-passing interface between ARM and the GPU), and the GPU itself runs a RTOS that handles the real processing.
Videocore Project Status – Research stage: documentation, assembler/disassembler., compiler work started,
scalar processor fully reverse engineered, and some some “Hello World” code is available for booting the Raspberry Pi. 9 people are currently working on this project.
Imagination PowerVR SGX Overview – PowerVR SGX (5xx), and Rogue (6xx) in the future
Open Source Project Status (from the slides):
Lima driver demos on Mele A1000 – Cube demos and Quake 3 Arena timedemo.
You can them compile it natively in any AllWinner A10 device:
You’ll also need to get a full Quake 3 Arena version first as the binary data files (paks files) must be copied to ~/ioquake3/baseq3 (NB: Those files can not be redistributed, as they belong to ID Software), and edit demofour.cfg as follows:
set demodone "quit"
set demoloop1 "demo four; set nextdemo vstr demodone"
You can now run the game demo with (I haven’t tried, so I’m not sure of the quake binary name):
ioquake3.arm +exec demofour.cfg
The full games is not playable yet, and Luc welcomes fixes for input support, sound, or even for the missing GLES2 shaders.
Call to ARM Management to Work with Open Source Developers
Luc Verhaegen claims “Absolutely nothing stops us now from delivering an open source driver that broadly matches the binary driver in performance! And this is exactly what we will be doing next!”, and calls upon ARM to join them:
We are not going away, we are here to stay. We cannot be silenced or stopped anymore, and we are becoming harder and harder to ignore.
It is only a matter of time before we produce an open source graphics driver stack which rivals your binary in performance. And that time is measured in weeks and months now. The requests from your own customers, for support for this open source stack, will only grow louder and louder.
So please, stop fighting us. Embrace us. Work with us. Your customers and shareholders will love you for it.
Open source developers are not the only ones to ask for this, if you’ve ever wanted to use Linux with proper 2D/3D GPU drivers on ARM, you are in the same boat, and even Linaro engineers complain about this (Linaro is an organization working on open source software for ARM SoCs, and ARM is obviously a core member), because those need to be updated for each kernel version, and it’s a nightmare as they have to go through the GPU company’s FAE which talks to the engineer and back. This wastes a lot of time (and money), as a task that could be done within a few hours/days with open source drivers, may instead take days or weeks because of binary blobs. An example is Linux Mali-400 support on Hardkernel ODROID-X/U2, they announced their intention to provide hardware GPU acceleration months ago, last month they released an Ubuntu image which can support GPU drivers (but not the driver), and they could only release the drivers yesterday (I’ll have to try that). The point is that it could have taken a much shorter time with open source drivers.
I understand there must be complicated legal issues, but there must certainly be a way to provide open source drivers, as it would just benefit everyone (from end users to engineers to SoC companies). Since Lima developers have now proven they can match the performance binary drivers for their “research” driver, and seem to be committed to deliver a proper open source driver for Mali-400, that should be a sufficient reason for ARM to cooperate with open source developers, even if it is only by releasing the GPU documentation.
Don’t get me wrong Qualcomm makes awesome processors, but as a blogger I already had a fairly negative opinion of Qualcomm when it comes to press releases about their new processors since they usually do not release any details. Yet I was naively thinking I could learn about Qualcomm upcoming products at their keynote, and I was (mostly) completely wrong. If you haven’t watched it yet and want to enjoy a 1h30 show, go watch the on-demand video, where you’ll see current Windows RT products based on Qualcomm, upcoming movies (Pacific Rim and Star Trek), Big Bird, Nascar and Maroon 5. However, if you want to learn about Qualcomm and be fed with geeky stuffs, don’t waste your time.
I’ve still been able to extra a little bit of useful information, and got some more info from other sites, and amazingly Qualcomm’s own press releases.
Unless you’re high after smoking pot, have acute ethylic intoxication, or have been chewing a considerable amount of khat, I’d strongly recommend you skip the first 7 minutes of the video. Then there’s a lot of blablah until Steve ballmer shows up on stage at 15:50 and talks up Windows RT tablet and Windows Phone smartphone based on Qualcomm. It really “starts” at around 23:40, where Qualcomm CEO announced Snapdragon 600 & 800 series. The 800 series comes with 4G LTE advanced (150 Mbps), 802.11ac Wi-Fi, support Ultra HD resolution and video decoding/encoding, and features 4 cores clocked up to 2.3 GHz. It should be available in products (smartphones/tablets) by the second half of 2013.
Here are the key features of Qualcomm 800 series according to the press release:
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processors will deliver up to 75 percent better performance than the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and the move to 28nm High Performance for mobile (HPm) technology node ensures exceptionally low power
New Krait 400 CPU in quad configuration, with speeds of up to 2.3 GHz per core offers best-in-class performance per watt, so processor performance can hold up to the more demanding processing and communication requirements of premium mobile devices
Additionally, asynchronous SMP architecture provides dynamic power sensing and control for peak performance per core, while extending battery life without the use of specialized cores
New Adreno 330 GPU delivers more than 2x performance for compute applications over the current Adreno 320 GPU
2x32bit LP-DDR3 at 800MHz with industry-leading memory bandwidth of 12.8GBps
New Hexagon DSP V5 delivers floating point support, dynamic multithreading and expanded multimedia instructions for enhanced low power performance
New IZat location technology combines multiple tracking systems into a single high performance, highly accurate navigation platform for auto and pedestrian applications
Seamless communications anytime, anywhere: Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processors offer fully integrated connectivity and a wide variety of communication options.
Third generation 4G LTE modem with data rates up to 150 Mbps (Category 4), fully integrated in the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processors
4G LTE Advanced Carrier Aggregation feature to maximize radio frequency bandwidth
World multimode and multi-band support using wafer level package (WTR1605)
Integrated newest generation mobile Wi-Fi connectivity, 802.11ac
Broad connectivity support with integrated USB 3.0, Bluetooth and FM
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processors also introduce the very latest mobile experiences.
Capture, playback and display in UltraHD video (with four times 1080p pixel density)
Dual Image Signal Processors (ISP) for Qualcomm Snapdragon Camera with support for computational camera
HD multichannel audio with DTS-HD and Dolby Digital Plus for enhanced audio
Higher display resolutions (up to 2560×2048) and Miracast 1080p HD support
The promo video is pretty nice too.
Qualcomm CEO showed some cool demo showcasing 3D performance of the new Snapdragon 800 series processor and UHD video playback with 7.1 surround sound. You may learn a bit more about the new processors via Anandtech.
Then we learn about the internet of (every)thing (IoE) that should increase mobile traffic by 1000 times, and Qualcomm solutions are small cells that fit on your bookshelf and capable of Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity. You can read a little more about Qualcomm IoE platform in the press release. StreamBoost technology allows your router to prioritize traffic on your LAN (QoS) to deliver the best experience, and 802.11ac from Alienware and D-Link will showcase the technology at CES 2013.
There’s also a part about cars with web radio, video conferencing and online gaming via LTE in Audi and BMW cars, as well as a demo with Nascar app (developed with AllJoyn) with a Snapdragon enabled TV controlled by a tablet.
The rest of the keynote shows more apps using Qualcomm Vuforia Augmented Reality SDK, currently used by over 40,000 developers, with a demo involving Sesame Street Big Bird, and also some talks (but no demo) about a Health care tricorder and a star trek app based on the upcoming movie.
Finally, an electric Rolls Royce car shows up on stage with a 73 kWh battery capable of charging 12,000 smartphones and that cam be charged with Qualcomm Halo technology, before Maroon 5 starts to sing a few songs. If you watched the recording you’re lucky to hear them, as those who watched the live stream could not listen (no rights), and Qualcomm really pissed off a few other people as well…
Qualcomm has just announced their new Vuforia SDK 2.0 for Android and iOS to enable developers to create augmented reality applications for those platforms.
Key new features include:
Cloud Recognition Service – Up to now developers were limited to about 100 images on the target device due to limited storage space, but thanks to the Cloud recognition service, apps can “see” more than 1 million images, creating new mobile augmented reality (AR) opportunities for retailers and publishers. For example, every product (or image) in a store can bring associated content from the retailer’s website and render it directly on top of the product (or image). Watch American Apparel AR app video demo for an example of such app. The Cloud Recognition service requires a Vuforia Web Services account which is free for developers (Limited to 1,000 images, 3000 events per months), but is subject to fees for businesses.
User-Defined Targets – Augmented reality apps usually require a known target image to be recognized before rendering the virtual content. Vuforia SDK 2.0 allows users to select their own targets such as books, magazines and photos, and do not need to carry the target previously required for the game.
Support for Play Mode for Unity – Improves development time by allowing you to test and debug in real time. No more sideload-run-debug-repeat between your PC and your test device. This is made possible thanks to webcam APIs that can activate your PC’s camera or USB webcam from inside the Unity Editor and let it see the real-world image you’re building on. That way you don’t need to constantly the target device for debugging and testing your app.
You can watch a short demo of those 3 features in the promo video below.
Another noticeable improvement is support for the front camera on mobile devices.
Qualcomm has also launched a new Vuforia Developer Portal, with improved navigation and additional resources such as sample apps, more documentation and tutorials. Vuforia SDK 2.0 can be freely downloaded for Windows, Linux and MacOS.
After news of an AllWinner A31 Tablet earlier today, here’s an other quad core Cortex A7 processor announcement, as Qualcomm has recently added of 2 new chipsets to its Snapdragon S4 family of mobile processors: the MSM8226 and MSM8626 featuring 4 ARM Cortex A7 core and Adreno 305 GPU. The processors support 1080p video playback and up to 13MP cameras. Both processors are built using 28nm technology node, and will be ready for customer sampling by Q2 2013 for UMTS, CDMA and TD-SCDMA.
These 2 chipsets will incorporate WTR2605, a new multi-mode radio transceiver, specifically designed and optimized to address China requirements such as support for TD-SCDMA, CDMA 1xAdv and HSPA+. The WTR2605 transceiver comes with an integrated, high-performance GPS core with GLONASS and Beidou support, and is said to offer 40 percent power savings and 60 percent smaller footprint compared to previous generations.
The company will also provide Qualcomm Reference Design (QRD) for both MSM8226 and MSM8626 processors in order to help their customers bring smartphones based on those solutions faster to market. The QRD8226 and QRD8626 will also be available for sampling by the Q2 2013.
As usual, Qualcomm announcements are rather laconic and lack in details, so there’s not really much public technical details at this time.
A few weeks ago, Qualcomm showcased their new Snapdragon S4 APQ8064 processor with their tablet reference design at Uplink 2012. The platform (Snapdragon S4 Pro Mobile Development Platform for tablets (MDP/T)) is now available to developers for 1299 USD. This development tablet based on APQ8064 processor with Adreno 320 GPU comes with 2GB LPDDR2 RAM and 32 GB flash, features a 10.1” WXGA Multi-touch display, and runs Android 4.0. It will allows developers and manufacturer to develop, test, optimize and showcase applications and games for a wide range of pre-commercial Android devices.
Here are the technical specifications of the Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064 MDP/T:
APQ8064 @ 1.5 Ghz (Quad core)
PM8921+ PM8821 (PMIC)
Adreno 320 graphics processing unit (GPU)
10.1” 1366×768 display
True multi-touch capacitive touch screen
1080 High-definition video recording and playback up to 30 frames per second
Stereoscopic 3D playback via HDMI output
Rear 13MP camera w/flash (1080P 30fps)
Front Facing 2MP
Surround sound stereo speakers
7 microphones for FluencePRO & Ultrasound
32 GB eMMC
WiFi 2.5GHz/5GHz, BT, FM (Rx), GPS
Volume / zoom +/-
Screen rotation lock switch
Micro USB type AB
3.5mm audio jack + ANC contacts
DC-IN barrel charger
Micro SD card slot
Docking station connector
Connectors accessible via docking station
Full-size USB type A
Full-size HDMI type A
DC-IN barrel charger
Ambient light and proximity
Temperature & pressure sensor
Some benchmarks results have been publishers, and appear to show that Qualcomm APQ8064 is the fastest mobile processor running Android today with an Antutu score of 13,975 for the MDP which easily beats Galaxy S3 score (around 11,000).
Quadrant also shows a score of about 8,000 whereas current high-end devices have a score of about 5,000.
The device can be purchased on Bsquare store, but you’ll need to wait for 2 to 3 weeks for delivery due to “high demand”.
Earlier today we gave you a bit of information on Qualcomm‘s new Snapdragon S4 Pro developer tablet, but now we’re back with more info thanks to a number of benchmark tests SlashGear has performed. As expected, the Snapdragon S4 Pro delivered some really impressive results in the tests, thanks to its quad-core APQ8064 chipset, 2GB of RAM, and Adreno 320 GPU. Since this tablet is intended for developers, you may not be surprised to hear that it performed well in benchmark tests, but we have a feeling that you’ll be left at least a little impressed nonetheless.