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Qualcomm Highlights Graphics Details Of The Adreno 530 GPU

August 12, 2015 - Written By Justin Diaz

Qualcomm has started sharing some of the details about their latest offerings in Adreno technology, which includes the Adreno 530 GPU set to be part of the Snapdragon 820 chipset due to release sometime later this year. The Adreno 530 isn’t the only GPU of note though as it’s one of a few that are part of the Adreno 5xx series meant for low-end, mid-range, and top-tier devices. For Qualcomm this new Adreno 530 chip is all about focusing on improvement of the user experience, which Qualcomm’s Tim Leland mentions they used as base for where to start when developing it and that they worked from there.

This includes things like making sure users never encounter a blurry photo when taking pictures with their smartphones or mobile devices powered by one of these chips, as well as working to provide clear and sharp images that aren’t hampered by lighting conditions or other things like motion. These are big challenges to be sure, but ones that Qualcomm is up to the task of trying to accomplish. There are other user experience areas too though that Qualcomm wants to achieve with the Adreno 530 and the other Adreno 5xx series GPUs like better, higher quality performance for mobile games and movies, and an all important one of better and more accurate representation of color from the camera.

Qualcomm is also focusing more on things like VR and AR (virtual and augmented reality) with the new chip, stating that it was actually designed for VR, games, and web as well as mobile UI’s. But they aren’t just focused on providing an improvement in graphics, they also wanted to bring improvement in the form of efficiency. Qualcomm states that the Adreno 530 GPU is capable of using less battery power while being able to provide more performance, boasting that the Snapdragon 820 and Adreno 530 combo uses 40% less power while delivering 40% more performance than the previous combination of the Snapdragon 810 and Adreno 430 GPU.

The Adreno 530 will support multiple different rendering engines, including Vulkan, OpenGL ES 3.1 + AP, OpenCL 2.0 and Renderscript, although Vulkan is noted as having a significantly better improvement over of OpenGL ES. Just as reproducing better color accuracy from the camera is important to Qualcomm, so is the whole of image processing with Leland mentioning that the ISP (image signal processing unit) inside of their processors have to be better than what’s typically available in “stand alone” cameras, due to complications such as more noise and lighting issues with the smaller image sensors and plastic lenses on smartphone cameras.

Qualcomm’s answer to this is their brand new Spectra Image Signal Processing unit, which is capable of supporting a range of different camera options, from a single main camera sensor up to 25MP or multiple cameras simultaneously (three total) which would include a single front-facing camera as well as a pair of “13MP stereo cameras.” The camera choices are ultimately decided by the manufacturers, so Qualcomm is making the Snapdragon 820 and Adreno 530 combo capable of giving OEM’s a set of things to work with so they have more choice. Qualcomm also planned for the use of stereoscopic cameras, which is where their image depth mapping technology comes in, providing support for things like the ability to select focus and refocus points so users can change and alter what parts of the image are in clear view and what gets blurred. Consumers have already seen features like this inside of other devices so this isn’t necessarily about new as it so much about giving users an improved experience in this area.

With Qualcomm focusing on all these user experience points, we can likely expect to see the Snapdragon 820/Adreno 530 in a range of different devices, but Qualcomm is also using it to power its scene detection system which it says is already gathering interest from car makers. With this new chipset Qualcomm states they’re also finally ready to support 4K, and the combination will bring support for 4K displays for up to 60fps over HDMI2.0 and 30fps over wireless display casting. Qualcomm is also going to be improving the experience with what they call “Improve Touch” which is already a present feature with the Snapdragon 810 powering the Sony Xperia Z4 tablet. With the Snapdragon 820/Adreno 530, Qualcomm aims to provide better water rejection than what’s currently available alongside improved touch responsiveness and wet multi-finger tracking. Because of these features, there’s a high likelihood we could see this in future high-end Sony phones which are known for highlighting their waterproof capabilities. All of these details sound like quite a bit to digest, and they are. Keep in mind though this is just the graphics portion of Qualcomm’s latest offering, and although they have already announced the Snapdragon 820 and some of its attributes, there is still quite a bit Qualcomm has yet to share.