The PowerVR Graphics SDK v3.1 sets a new milestone for mobile graphics development
Launched at GDC 2013, the PowerVR Graphics SDK v3.1 provides developers all the SDK components, tools and utilities they need to build, test, and debug apps for Android, iOS, BlackBerry 10, Windows or Linux.
The PowerVR Graphics SDK v3.1 is part of our usual cycle of bi-yearly updates when we include support for new graphics APIs, operating systems, and forthcoming PowerVR GPU IP cores. Thanks to your feedback, we strive to always improve, update and include new functionality in our utilities, so you have the best set of tools optimized for all aspects of game development, from code debugging to performance analysis.
A short recap of previous PowerVR Graphics SDK v3.0 releases
The previous PowerVR Graphics SDK (v3.0) was released last September. It enjoyed a record number of downloads (over 75,000 installs and more than 500,000 downloaded components), as it added OpenGL ES 3.0 support and included PowerVR Series6 GPUs among supported graphics cores. There were also revamped and updated SDK utilities (PVRShaderEditor, PVRTrace, etc.), an improved interface and installation process, and many others important changes.
In January, the PowerVR Graphics SDK v3.0 r2 came out. There were two major additions:
- Android SDK Manager integration, where PowerVR Graphics SDK tools, platforms, and other components could be downloaded into separate packages
- BlackBerry 10 native support for the PowerVR-based devices that were running on the newly-launched operating system
For the past months, we’ve also worked with our friends at Vanilla Forums to redesign our developer forums for PowerVR Insider members. We wanted to come up with something that is easy to use, intuitive, looks good across all your devices, and includes social media and our blogs into the mix.
Use our advanced SDK tools to target all PowerVR-based platforms
We are very excited about the improvements we’ve made to the new PowerVR Graphics SDK 3.1 and we can’t wait for you to try it out and tell us what you think. As usual, the SDK will soon be available as a free download for all PowerVR Insider members.
We believe these updates will ease and accelerate application deployment and expand the capabilities of this latest incarnation of the PowerVR Graphics SDK, dramatically improving its usability while incorporating the latest major standards, hardware platforms, and GUI refinements.
From mobile (Android, iOS, BlackBerry) and ultraportable (Windows 8) to embedded (Linux, RTOS), developers can use the PowerVR Graphics SDK to target over 1 billion devices with integrated PowerVR GPUs, including mass volume shipping devices as well as flagship smartphones and tablets (Samsung Galaxy S 4, Amazon Kindle Fire, BlackBerry Z10, Lenovo K900 etc.). Furthermore, as Series6 ‘Rogue’ cores (PowerVR G6100, G6200, G6400, G6230, G6430, and G6630) fully support OpenGL ES 3.0 and all of its features, developers can start implementing the next wave of console-quality applications for upcoming computing platforms.
As the list of PowerVR Series5XT and Series6-platforms keeps expanding, it becomes extremely important that all current and future apps are able to correctly identify a certain platform’s capabilities. For example, developers can use our tools to benchmark their shaders across PowerVR SGX544MP GPUs and therefore estimate what certain level of effects they should turn on or off, depending on the processing power of that respective device.
The new features and improvements of PowerVR Graphics SDK v3.1
Here is a list of what has changed, complete with a few screenshots to satisfy your curiosity:
PVRTune Performance Analyzer
PVRTune now supports PowerVR Series6-based chipsets, allowing users to do performance analysis on the next generation of PowerVR hardware featured in the bleeding edge of smartphone and tablet technology due out this year.
Renderstate override allows users of PVRTune to directly effect the render state of their applications remotely, making it even easier to identify bottlenecks. Examples include forcing 2×2 textures to see if you’re memory bandwidth limited, disabling all blending operations to see if optimizing transparent objects will boost performance and disabling texture modifications to see if you’re limited by texture ghosting caused by touching textures too frequently.
The PVRTune User Interface has experienced the first wave of UI improvements to follow its port to Qt. More will follow in future releases, but already the overall user experience is smoother, easing developers analysis with the tools
Verbose descriptions of the counters in PVRTune now tell you what each counter represents in great detail, what it means when the counter is high, and what you can do to lower it.
PVRTrace API Tracer
PVRTrace now has full support for OpenGL ES 3.0, for playback, pixel analysis, not just call recording.
Pixel Picker: using the new “pixel picker” users are able to select a specific pixel from the image analysis window and see all of the shaders contributing to that pixel, the textures they use, their GLSL code, and even edit the shaders to see what the effect would be.
Shader Analysis: the new pixel analysis capabilities of PVRTrace have opened up new areas for analysis in the form of per frame shader analysis, pie charts will display what shaders are being used, how much time they take up, and what proportion of the overall frame they used. In addition, the image analysis window now has a new mode that gives you a heatmap of shader complexity.
Trace file editing and splitting: it is also now possible to save out sub sections of a trace into another trace, this could be a single frame, or a small range of frames, and can include edits to a trace, such as disabling calls, or changing shaders. This is of particular use with the next feature.
Platform Playback: We now provide binaries for Android, Linux and Windows that can be used to play trace files back, this is particular useful for trace file verification, analysis of bugs, or even regression testing of performance as CPU side calculations are now removed from the equation.
We want your feedback and comments
All of these combined, coupled with the usual array of bug fixes and stability improvements mean that users now have a tool that is unparalleled in terms of feature set for API tracing, debugging and analysis.
If you’re a new PowerVR Insider member, we recommend you check out our FAQ section to quickly access a useful resource of information. It includes comprehensive answers to usual questions we get whenever developers start writing applications for PowerVR-based platforms.
We are looking forward to getting your feedback and comments on the new PowerVR Graphics SDK v3.1 so please do get back to us with any suggestions for improvement.
We also like to see our PowerVR Insider developer community to get more involved with the PowerVR online forum and social media (@ImaginationPR and @PowerVRInsider). We are here to help you extract the best performance and experience out of PowerVR-based hardware and it’s all free so please feel free to use all resources available.
Alexandru Voica, Joe Davis and Bob Gardner have contributed to this post.