Thursday, December 7, 2017

Qualcomm’s Adreno 630 GPU is 30 Percent Faster, 30 Percent More Power Efficient

Qualcomm announced the new Snapdragon 845 system-on-chip today at the company’s tech summit in Hawaii. One of the points it emphasized was the new graphics chip, and for good reason: Qualcomm’s Adreno 630 GPU is a whopping 30 percent faster than the previous generation.

Here’s the full rundown: The Adreno 630 GPU is about 30 percent faster and 30 percent more power efficient than the Snapdragon 835’s Adreno 540, and has 2.5 times the display throughput. That should translate to massive improvements in games and graphics-heavy applications, but there’s more to the Adreno 630 under the hood.

With the Adreno 630 GPU, Qualcomm’s put an outsized focus on virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences. The company spoke about its Adreno Foveation technology, a tile-based rendering technique that decreases the resolution of areas in scenes that aren’t being viewed. The parts of scenes that are in view render at a higher resolution, which has the overall effect of decreasing processing overhead.

Basically, using eye-tracking sensors, the Adreno 630 GPU’s able to pinpoint where you’re looking in a VR or AR headset render it with progressively less detail outside the viewing region.

That’s not the Adreno 630’s only clever graphics trick. Multiview rendering frees up CPU cycles, GPU cycles, and DRAM by rendering objects first to the left eye buffer, and then copying them to right eye buffer. And fine grain preemption improves latency.

On the hardware side of the VR and AR equation, the Adreno 630 supports a wide range of headsets. While the Adreno 540 maxed out at 1.5k x 1.5k at 60 frames per second, the Adreno 630 can go up to 2k x 2k at 120 frames per second. Qualcomm says it’s working with Google, Vive, Oculus, and others on upcoming peripherals.

It remains to be seen just how tangible the Adreno 630’s improvements are on smartphone and tablet form factors, of course, but there’s no denying that it’s much more powerful than its predecessor. If Qualcomm’s claims are true, we’re looking at a new GPU kingpin.

Editor’s note: These are our initial impressions of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 platform — we haven’t had time to put it through its paces yet. Rest assured, we’ll follow up our “hot take” coverage with more thorough, detailed looks at the new system-on-chip and all of its features.

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