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

While standalone driver updates are still a new concept to smartphones, they are a tried and true aspect of PCs. As a result of being able to deliver periodic driver updates separate from the OS, PC GPU vendors have been able to boost gaming performance and fix bugs in games at a fairly rapid pace, to the benefit of PC gamers everywhere. Now, as part of their Snapdragon Elite Gaming program, Qualcomm wants to bring those same benefits to smartphones, shipping their own driver regular updates to phones so that these performance and feature updates are more readily available to smartphone gamers.

Overall, Qualcomm has stated that it wants to release new drivers for its Snapdragon SoCs every quarter for two to three years after launch. However, it should be noted that the company will not be going around handset vendors in delivering driver updates; the drivers will be sent to smartphone manufacturers, who in turn have to push them to the Google Play Store (or app stores in China). Which means that while Qualcomm hopes that their OEM partners will stick to the quarterly release schedule, it does not have control over what the OEMs ultimately do.

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

In addition to drivers set to be updated quarterly, Qualcomm has also teamed up with Google to create the Android GPU Inspector tool, which promises to help discover performance optimization opportunities. According to Qualcomm, the tool helped Google and an unnamed game developer find an optimization that ‘saved the game 40% in GPU utilization’ on the Pixel 4 XL, which enabled smoother gameplay and longer battery life.

And this kind of close collaboration with game designers will not end with the Android GPU Inspector tool. Select game studios will get beta versions of Adreno GPU software driver in a bid to provide feedback to Qualcomm and, possibly, optimize their titles better.

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Sources: Qualcomm, AndroidAuthority

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  • PeachNCream - Thursday, March 26, 2020 - link

    This is good stuff and maybe a step in the direction of more frequent and better security patching for mobile operating systems. As it stands, you can easily buy a handset that has pretty serious, known exploits and expect they will never get updates or patches. Reply
  • mooninite - Thursday, March 26, 2020 - link

    Will Google or Samsung integrate these updates into their monthly updates?

    When Qualcomm last issued updates to their graphic driver Google never packed them into updates.
    Reply
  • cha0z_ - Friday, March 27, 2020 - link

    The idea is to update the driver via playstore, but dunno how exactly it will be implemented. Right now and for many many years driver versions existed, but manufacturers wasn't too exited to include them in updates, in fact most would update the GPU driver only with major OS release (while it can be included in security update without any issues) - reason? QA testing and the possibility that something will not work as expected with the new driver while they know everything works with the old one (and they don't really care even if the driver vastly improves some aspects like performance). Reply
  • BushLin - Friday, March 27, 2020 - link

    It'll be like desktop drivers when security vulnerabilities are patched on 10 year old hardware. Qualcomm are changing little more than the frequency of releases, not the forced end of life of perfectly good hardware. Reply
  • dotjaz - Friday, March 27, 2020 - link

    What is ARM doing? Reply
  • domboy - Friday, March 27, 2020 - link

    And what about their windows drivers I wonder? Plus, they need to get OpenGL support added to those... Reply
  • yeeeeman - Tuesday, March 31, 2020 - link

    Great. More chances for phones to get bricked. Yay! Reply

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