Qualcomm updates the smartphone GPU driver every quarter, develops the GPU inspector tool

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Qualcomm updates the smartphone GPU driver every quarter, develops the GPU inspector tool

As part of the Snapdragon Elite Gaming initiative, Qualcomm had previously announced its intentions to release quarterly driver updates for its Adreno GPUs. And now the first update has finally arrived. In addition, the company has developed an Android GPU inspector tool to help game designers optimize their applications for better performance.

While standalone driver updates are still a new concept for smartphones, they are a tried and true aspect of PCs. With the ability to provide periodic driver updates separate from the operating system, PC GPU vendors have been able to improve game performance and correct game errors at a fairly rapid pace, to the benefit of PC gamers everywhere. Now, as part of their Snapdragon Elite Gaming program, Qualcomm wants to offer the same benefits to smartphones by sending their regular driver updates to phones so that these performance and feature updates are more readily available for smartphone gamers.

Overall, Qualcomm has said it plans to release new drivers for its Snapdragon SoCs every quarter for two or three years after launch. However, it should be noted that the company will not go around with cell phone vendors in delivering driver updates; the drivers will be sent to smartphone manufacturers, who in turn will have to send them to the Google Play Store (or app stores in China). This means that while Qualcomm hopes that its OEM partners will stick to the quarterly release schedule, it doesn’t have control over what OEMs ultimately do.

The first SoCs to obtain the quarterly GPU driver are the current generation Snapdragon 865 and Snapdragon 765 / 765G, as well as the previous generation Snapdragon 855. The first smartphones to be updated, in turn, will be the Samsung Galaxy S10, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and the Google Pixel 4 series. In the meantime, other laptops will be updated later.

In addition to the drivers that will be updated quarterly, Qualcomm has also partnered with Google to create the Android GPU Inspector tool, which promises to help uncover performance optimization opportunities. According to Qualcomm, the tool helped Google and an unnamed game developer find an optimization that “saved the game by 40% in GPU usage” on Pixel 4 XL, which allowed for smoother gameplay and greater battery life.

And this kind of close collaboration with game designers won’t end with the Inspector GPU Android tool. Some gaming studios will get beta versions of the Adreno GPU software driver in an attempt to provide feedback to Qualcomm and possibly optimize their titles better.

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Sources: Qualcomm, AndroidAuthority