Will Verduzco · Dec 4, 2011 at 04:00 pm

Google’s Dianne Hackborn Dispels Android Hardware Acceleration Myths

There’s been much fervor regarding Google’s inclusion of “full” hardware acceleration into Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. And this is with good reason—the 2D software rendering in Android 2.x made for a noticeably less smooth experience than competing OSes.

While the inclusion of a greater extent of hardware acceleration into the OS is a wonderful thing, there are many misconceptions surrounding what it brings to the table. First off, Android has had elements of hardware acceleration for tasks such as window compositing for years. This means that all window animations were also always hardware accelerated.

Unlike window compositing, drawing inside of a window has traditionally been accomplished by the CPU in Android 2.x and below. In Android 3.0 Honeycomb, however, these functions could be offloaded to the device’s GPU as long as android:hardwareAccelerated=”true” was placed in the application’s manifest. The only difference with Android 4.0 is that ICS turns on hardware acceleration by default as long as API level 14 or higher is targeted. Thus, hardware acceleration in ICS is no more “full” than in Honeycomb. (Note: You can force all applications in ICS to utilize hardware acceleration in 4.0 through the developer options settings pane—something I have wanted in Honeycomb for eight months.)

OK. Now, hardware acceleration is on by default in API 14+ apps, and we have a way to force hardware acceleration in all apps regardless of the contents of the manifest. All is gravy, right? That’s unfortunately not the case. In the case of the PowerVR drivers used in the Nexus S and even Google’s new flagship, simply enabling hardware acceleration in any process eats up 8 MB of memory—per process! While not much on its own, 8 MB here and 8 MB there will lead to much higher memory consumption that could also lead to much slower multitasking. As a result, the Android team is putting considerable effort into fine tuning exactly what parts of the Android UI will use GPU rendering on the Nexus S.

Long story short? When compared to Android 2.x, ICS brings great features to the table thanks to its increased reliance on hardware acceleration. However, other than being turned on by default, ICS’s hardware acceleration cannot be considered any more “full” than what we already had in Honeycomb. Furthermore, hardware acceleration isn’t the magic bullet that many consider it to be—but it will certainly help!

Interested in learning more? Read Dianne’s post on Google+ and join the discussion in the original thread.


_________
Want something on the XDA Portal? Send us a tip!

Will Verduzco

willverduzco is an editor on XDA-Developers, the largest community for Android users. Will Verduzco is the Portal Administrator for the XDA-Developers Portal. He has been addicted to mobile technology since the HTC Wizard. But starting with the Nexus One, his gadget love affair shifted to Google's little green robot. He is also a Johns Hopkins University graduate in neuroscience and is now currently studying to become a physician. View willverduzco's posts and articles here.
Emil Kako · Jun 29, 2015 at 01:36 pm · 5 comments

Do You Have Insurance on Your Smartphone?

While affordable smartphones are becoming more available, the majority of high-end flagships are still upwards of $600. With these devices carrying such a hefty price, people look for different ways to protect their investment. The most popular way to protect your smartphone is just to buy a case, but many people like the added peace of mind that comes with insuring your phone. We're interesting in seeing just how many of you actually buy insurance on your smartphone. Let us know why or why not in the comments below.

DISCUSS
Jack Jennings · Jun 29, 2015 at 12:45 pm · 3 comments

Apple Music Will Increase iTunes Match to 100,000 Songs

The battle for music streaming subscription dominance is starting to really heat up, with Apple planning their next offensive in line with the release of iOS9 later in the year. A major draw for these kind of services is the ability to have your current music library uploaded and copies of the tracks available to be streamed on the go.   Today Eddy Cue, an Apple Exec has released some details on how iTunes Match will integrate with the soon to be released...

XDA NEWS
Share This