Slow GPU affects a smartphone’s performance, smartphone GPU is not really a craze. It is practical to have some idea around the latest smartphone GPU technologies, particularly if you are going to purchase a new smartphone running Android or iOS. On the whole internet, the amount of writing on smartphone GNU is too less for the new users. Any latest article around evolving technologies becomes old quite sooner. This article is latest at the time publication. Although we tried to keep this article as much free as possible from technical terminologies, readers possibly need to have an idea around the technical terminologies like System on Chip (SoC) and ARM Architecture before continue reading this article.
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Basic Working Principle of Latest Smartphone GPU Technologies
How GPU Change the Feel of a Smartphone?
If a smartphone has a powerful GPU and a mediocre CPU, the UI effects will be smooth, but browser will be slow. Mobile devices are designed to render an application’s UI on a timer – render loop. That attempt reach a frame rate of around 60 frames per second. That gives a great realistic jumping of icons feel. If the GPU is slow for the workload, render loop will slow down, and fewer frames will end up getting drawn to the screen. The result will look like slow motion. That is perceived as choppy animations. A slower GPU will have an adverse effect on the user experience as we are now creating the operating systems, applications expecting an average performance (this explains why we said at the beginning slightly opposite). That lack of GPU made 2nd generation iPhones to have choppy graphics. As screen size and resolutions in the mobile devices is increasing, they need faster GPUs otherwise the users will experience a drop in frame rate (read have choppy graphics). Obviously there is gaming, which has really grown too huge. Good GPUs means great gaming experience. So, it is practical to consider a smartphone with powerful GPU and CPU for the purpose of long term usage. The smartphone manufactures usually do not manufacture the SoC needed for GPU. If they need to omit the GPU, they decrease the resolution and/or size of the screen.
Brands of Latest Smartphone GPU Technologies
Mobile GPUs biggest problem is limited space, limited battery supply and the embeded technology which makes it to marry with CPU. We guess many readers heard of smartphone GPU brands like Adreno, Tegra etc. Tegra is a system on a chip (SoC) series developed by Nvidia. Adreno is a series of graphics processing unit (GPU) semiconductor intellectual property cores developed by Qualcomm and used in a variety of their SoCs. PowerVR is another GPU series for smartphones. ARM Mali is another brand of GPU.
PowerVR GPU are made from video logic. They make a draft architecture then sold the license to the manufacturer of the leading processors including NEC, Intel, Freescale and Texas Instruments. PowerVR products found on Apple mobile devices.
Tegra SoC is one of the famous GPU in the world for the Android devices. Tegra was first implemented in Zune HD media player in 2008. Later Tegra 2 used in tablets including Samsung Galaxy Tab. Unfortunately, it is hard to find latest Tegra in common smartphone brands. Tegra has generations like Tegra 2, Tegra 3, Tegra 4, Tegra K1, Tegra X1. You’ll get official information from Tegra’s website :
Next is Adreno GPU series, which is compared with ATI of computer GPU. ATI is a subsidiary of AMD. The total things are now owned by Qualcomm. Adreno bears a part number to indicate the series.
Mali GPU series is made in ARM architecture. Possibly most of the (entry grade, mid range)smartphones now many are using this series.
Snapdragon is a suite of SoC designed and marketed by Qualcomm for mobile devices with CPU (uses the ARM RISC instruction set), a GPU (usually Adreno series), a wireless modem, GPS, camera, gesture recognition etc.
Most of the smartphone manufacturers buy things from Qualcomm and assemble them. So, only having “Snapdragon” on a device’s specification is not enough. You need to know what exact CPU, GPU used. If you look at Qualcomm’s website :
You’ll understand that they are more informative than Samsung, Sony etc mobile manufacturer! As they manufacture the SoC, obviously they will recommend brands. As you can see, Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform is latest. You’ll get detailed latest information on Wikipedia of Snapdragon platform :
Cost of Latest Smartphone GPU Technologies
The Smartphone GPU technologies we written in this article, the lowest version will not come below a price tag of $250. GPU at that cost does not give high performance is not at that price. The smartphones with latest Smartphone GPU technologies actually the one which you know names for their higher price. We are excluding Apple iPhones. Common brands like Samsung, LG, Sony, Xiaomi, Asus, HTC, Vivo, ZTE uses Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC.
Samsung J7 Max is a “entry level” smartphone powered by Mali-T880MP2 GPU. Sony Xperia XZ Premium has “acceptable” quality latest smartphone SoC and GPU. That is Snapdragon 835 (MSM8998) SoC and Adreno 540 GPU. Samsung, LG to whatever possible brand do have models with the same SoC and GPU. Those will cost over $800 with matching good display and camera.
As always we joke – sooner or later we possibly have to play casinos online to gather money to buy the latest technologies to play innocent games! To get the smartphones real powerful GPU, you have to look at the top models of Samsung, Sony and Apple, average price will go towards $1000. The price is not exactly in everyone’s purchasing capability.
Technology behind and purchasing a commercial device has difference. Unlike computer hardware, mobile SoC specification is not distributed by the smartphone manufacturers to avoid few features and reduce cost. Manufactures invariably pushes the high end mobile devices.
If you have chosen Samsung J7 Max with limited budget, obviously you have to know performance of Mali-T880MP2 GP. 4-core Mali T880 MP4 is a pretty decent GPU with about twice the compute power of a T860 MP2 while using about half the power. Newer T880 uses 16nm lithography, but Mali T880 MP2 is towards useless. You noticed the difference in real for minor change in part number – Mali-T880MP2 and Mali-T880MP4. The Mali T830 is not a bad but with the MP2 there is just not enough of it to do anything useful. The Adreno 506 has about four times the processing power per square mm than the Mali T830 variants. Adreno 505 and Mali 830 are just too old for any kind of efficiency and performance. The Mali T880 (with 4 cores or more) or the Adreno 506 are going to be your entry level into high performance with a 1080×1920 screen. Of course there are software exactly like computers for mobile GPU benchmarking – 3DMark, GFXBench 3.0, Basemark X 1.1 to name a few.
We are not sure whether knowing so much has any effective value – we as buyers are actually been played like cards of casino by the mobile device manufactures. They are in-turn being played by the SoC manufacturers. At worst the latest technologies changing so fast that it does not take much time for a $1000 smartphone to become old.
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