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  1.    #1  
    So, this is going to seem a little far-fetched, and some of the WebOS Internals guys will be able to shoot it down immediately, but I'll put it out there anyway...

    What if the speed increases people are reporting in the browser, calendar, etc. are because GPU support is already working at some level and Palm is intentionally leaving it out of all the release notes to make a big splash at CES?

    Keep it quiet and out of the release notes, then show up at CES and announce "As of today, all Palm devices on the current WebOS version have GPU support enabled, and here's what it can do..." Cut to demos of 3d games and Flash. Maybe the Unreal engine as well.

    Things that make me suspect this:

    1) The OpenGL packs discovered in the update files. Why include them in the public build if they aren't doing anything?

    2) The new evidence that the Need For Speed video was legit, plus the Flash demo. There's simply no way, in my opinion, that those were functioning without the GPU support, and given the length of time since those both popped up, it's not unbelievable at all that what was making them work is now ready for public release.

    3) It fits into Palm's habit of keeping things top secret so that they can make huge splashy anouncements.


    I know it's far fetched and it's entirely possible that the new speed in various apps is attributable to fixing memory leaks, better garbage handling, etc. but it's just a thought I had and I figured I'd throw it out there.
  2. #2  
    I personally agree with you. I think that GPU acceleration is working and enabled in certain apps. I fully expect an announcement at CES along with some games "available now" or "available soon".

    I'm sure there's still some tweaking and optimizing to be done, but IMO it's up and running.
    Treo 300 > Hitachi G1000 > PPC-6700 > PPC-6800 (Mogul) > PPC-6850 (Touch Pro) > Palm Pre & HTC EVO Optimus V
  3. Stihl's Avatar
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    #3  
    That's crazy bro--you got a ****in' dart in your neck! I like you, but you're crazy!
  4. #4  
    Actually, this makes perfect sense to me.

    Here's my theory:
    Casperstar's "need for speed" app leak (http://www.precentral.net/webos-135-...ed-speed-video) shows the same app catalog as in 1.3.5 and a squared screen, which many of the apps switched to in 1.3.5. If Palm has just enabled GPU support, all they would need to do to release a GPU game would be to release it in the app catalog, without any sort of update. That would be cool.
  5. Kedar's Avatar
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    #5  
    It's like a puzzle that we all... put together.
  6. UF15's Avatar
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    #6  
    I disagree.

    I don't think GPU acceleration is happening at all right now in the WebOS GUI. Things like scrolling or menu animations are still done entirely with the CPU.

    I believe they have found a way for WebOS to have access to the GPU, but I don't think they have optimized anything to actually use it. Remember, it isn't just as easy as flicking an on switch and then the GPU suddenly takes over. All of those animations and functions need to be completely rewritten in code that the GPU understands. That is a major effort, and I don't think it happened. If it did, we would see way more dramatic improvements in speed and smoothness.

    I bet you that the GPU is never used in that way. They are probably just going to count on the CPUs in the future being fast enough to handle simple animations and scrolling without choppiness. The GPU will probably only be utilized by graphic-intensive games.

    Look at Android, they have access to the GPU, but their 2D GUI engine doesn't use the GPU at all, that is why most things are so choppy.
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    #7  
    I think it may be working to some extent, which would also explain why small java games have been seen working in the threads.
  8.    #8  
    Quote Originally Posted by UF15 View Post
    I disagree.

    I don't think GPU acceleration is happening at all right now in the WebOS GUI. Things like scrolling or menu animations are still done entirely with the CPU.

    I believe they have found a way for WebOS to have access to the GPU, but I don't think they have optimized anything to actually use it. Remember, it isn't just as easy as flicking an on switch and then the GPU suddenly takes over. All of those animations and functions need to be completely rewritten in code that the GPU understands. That is a major effort, and I don't think it happened. If it did, we would see way more dramatic improvements in speed and smoothness.

    I bet you that the GPU is never used in that way. They are probably just going to count on the CPUs in the future being fast enough to handle simple animations and scrolling without choppiness. The GPU will probably only be utilized by graphic-intensive games.

    Look at Android, they have access to the GPU, but their 2D GUI engine doesn't use the GPU at all, that is why most things are so choppy.
    This is getting a little over my head, but I don't think it works the way you describe.

    If it's the same as a desktop/notebook OS, and I'm pretty sure it is, the OS/software has standard calls to access the hardware which are then interpreted and executed by the driver. The system is probably operating currently with a software emulator in place of that hardware driver.

    As the driver for the GPU is developed and adds more functionality it will take over more and more from the software emulator. It wouldn't require recoding every animation.

    As far as Android, that's a totally different situation. Android has to work across dozens of platforms, most of which don't even have a GPU.
  9. angiest's Avatar
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    #9  
    As I understand, on Linux/BSD systems where you have direct rendering (that is, using the GPU to do graphics) you have kernel support along with an accelerated driver. The apps really don't need to know that much.

    Correct me if I am wrong.
  10. #10  
    Palm also mentioned that animated GIFS are also now supported in 1.3.5. Could this be related to GPU at all?
  11. #11  
    I've gotta say if the GPU acceleration is enabled with regards to the GUI and navigation I'm a little disappointed - I would have expected a more pronounced impact on the speed. But like you say there is plenty of time for optimization and reworking the code. It's a shame we can't just query linux and ask it if it's currently using a hardware acceleration graphics driver. Or can we?
  12. #12  
    Quote Originally Posted by UF15 View Post
    I believe they have found a way for WebOS to have access to the GPU, but I don't think they have optimized anything to actually use it. Remember, it isn't just as easy as flicking an on switch and then the GPU suddenly takes over. All of those animations and functions need to be completely rewritten in code that the GPU understands.

    ...

    That is a major effort, and I don't think it happened. If it did, we would see way more dramatic improvements in speed and smoothness.
    It is as easy as flicking a switch--that is, once the software and drivers are ready to be put with the hardware.

    Put it like this. I ask you to divide 1,766,344 by 71 and hand you a pencil and a piece of paper. Let's say it takes you 30 seconds to figure it out (not putting your math abilities on the spot, just picked a time). You get the correct answer, and that's the same way the CPU handles graphics instructions. It can do them, but it takes a while.

    Now, let's say I give you a calculator. Now it takes you 3 seconds to figure it out. That's what it's like enabling the GPU. It's like handing the CPU a calculator to help with the tasks it can't do as quickly. Think of a Windows machine where you install a new graphics card. It will work, but until you install the drivers, you'll get lousy performance. Install the drivers, poof, you're cruising.

    It is a big effort, but this is something that they have been working on for what could be years. If all the apps are written with the same SDK, they should have the same instructions that Palm is working with. And I actually call the speed improvements pretty dramatic. If this is the first go, it will only get better.

    I have no knowledge of what Palm did to speed up the Pre, just providing a theory of how it's possible the GPU is working.
  13. #13  
    The GPU is most certainly not currently functioning. No part of the UI is being accelerated -- anyone with a moderate amount of experience and understanding knows this just by interacting with the device (so will some people here who have owned Windows Mobile devices with GPU drivers as well as Windows Mobile devices without them).

    The Java demo is not being accelerated either -- that's being done in a web browser [according to the article on the homepage] which we know is not accelerated in 1.3.5, the textures are clearly being rendered using the CPU not the GPU there, and the framerate is terrible too.

    No, animated GIFs have absolutely nothing to do with GPU acceleration. The Pre already plays YouTube videos -- obviously an animated GIF requires far less processing power.

    One user stated they thought that GPU acceleration was working and enabled in certain apps... Someone please point out which apps these are

    It is possible, as other users have speculated, that the Pre's UI will not be accelerated [initially?] and that only 3D capable games will be tapping into the GPU [initially?].

    But the bottom line is: no, no, and no, the GPU is not yet active.

    Another update will be required, as well as a new SDK allowing developers to tap into the hardware. CES may well have something to do with that.
  14. #14  
    Quote Originally Posted by theweaselslayer View Post
    The GPU is most certainly not currently functioning. No part of the UI is being accelerated -- anyone with a moderate amount of experience and understanding knows this just by interacting with the device (so will some people here who have owned Windows Mobile devices with GPU drivers as well as Windows Mobile devices without them).

    ...

    But the bottom line is: no, no, and no, the GPU is not yet active.

    Another update will be required, as well as a new SDK allowing developers to tap into the hardware. CES may well have something to do with that.
    You may be correct that it's not active, but your reasoning isn't sound.

    Comparing them to WinMo devices with and without is apples to oranges. I'm not really sure what that means either; are you saying that you don't think the difference is big enough for the GPU being used? Perhaps you're taking "accelerated" too literally. Not everything needs to be sped up, just that it won't pull on the CPU as much freeing up resources.

    And the animated gifs, no sure where you're going there. Any graphics, 2D or 3D, can utilize a graphics processor.

    The point about YouTube is irrelevant too. Video processors and 2D/3D processors are two different animals. If YouTube used Flash on the Pre, you would have an argue, but the fact that it's streaming video makes it irrelevant towards the GPU issue.

    And about the developers needing a new SDK and other resources, who says that some don't already have them? Clearly if they're developing the GPU someone has to be creating content for it by now. It's just not ready for release.

    Again, not saying you're wrong, just that your reasoning doesn't hold much water.
  15. UF15's Avatar
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    #15  
    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Mo View Post
    It is as easy as flicking a switch--that is, once the software and drivers are ready to be put with the hardware.

    Put it like this. I ask you to divide 1,766,344 by 71 and hand you a pencil and a piece of paper. Let's say it takes you 30 seconds to figure it out (not putting your math abilities on the spot, just picked a time). You get the correct answer, and that's the same way the CPU handles graphics instructions. It can do them, but it takes a while.

    Now, let's say I give you a calculator. Now it takes you 3 seconds to figure it out. That's what it's like enabling the GPU. It's like handing the CPU a calculator to help with the tasks it can't do as quickly. Think of a Windows machine where you install a new graphics card. It will work, but until you install the drivers, you'll get lousy performance. Install the drivers, poof, you're cruising.

    It is a big effort, but this is something that they have been working on for what could be years. If all the apps are written with the same SDK, they should have the same instructions that Palm is working with. And I actually call the speed improvements pretty dramatic. If this is the first go, it will only get better.

    I have no knowledge of what Palm did to speed up the Pre, just providing a theory of how it's possible the GPU is working.
    I don't really think it is as easy as just flipping a switch. For starters, it isn't just a matter of simple instructions that the CPU was doing, and then handing it off to the GPU and saying, "Here, now you do it." So I think your metaphor is way too simplified.

    Secondly, it isn't just a matter reassigning instructions . . . I mean, you could, but you would hardly see an improvement. To get the real benefits out of having a GPU, you need to be clever. I will quote one of the bright developers on this board to show how using the GPU and OpenGL can really help us out with what we want:

    Quote Originally Posted by s219 View Post
    One technology Apple uses with much success is to take 2D interface elements and render them as textures with OpenGL. This allows all sort of transformations, special effects, smooth animations, etc. Even very mundane tasks in the OS get accelerated through the GPU. A big side benefit is that it frees up the CPU from having to deal with this stuff.

    I have done a lot of software development over the years, and have resorted to OpenGL in several cases for simple 2D interface rendering -- it's significantly better, and is often the only way to obtain visually smooth/appealing frame rates.
    Quote Originally Posted by s219 View Post
    Implementing OpenGL won't magically accelerate all apps. At least in the traditional sense, you need to code specifically for OpenGL. It has its own set of practices, tricks, and strategies. I've taken more than one app from software rendering to OpenGL, and it's a paradigm shift for sure. In most cases it's easier and more efficient, but that doesn't always help if you have an overcomplicated software rendering engine that needs to be pared down. In some cases, it's easier to start from scratch, especially if you are going from pixel rendering of things like sprites to use textures in OpenGL ES.

    Where OpenGL could have an automatic benefit is if Palm takes some existing low-level animations and on-screen operations and moves them to OpenGL. This is not going to help apps that do custom, specialized rendering, but it could improve generic stuff. Especially day to day OS animations and movements.

    As an example, Apple relies heavily on OpenGL for most of their OS animations, which is why certain aspects of the iPhone OS feel so much faster and smoother than webOS. A simple operation like a deleted e-mail getting sucked into the trash can is done by mapping the e-mail window to an OpenGL texture, then using OpenGL to morph the texture into doing the reverse "genie/bottle" effect into the trash can. There's a brief delay while the CPU creates the texture from the window, and then the rest is smooth, clean, fast OpenGL done in hardware by the GPU.
    So I sit here watching people claim it is just as easy as passing on instructions to the GPU, when it isn't, and think that they are in for disappointment. I don't think Palm has currently enabled any GPU acceleration yet, but if they have, it is very unimpressive.
  16. #16  
    maybe they put it in there to create some buzz right before ces... and its working.
  17. #17  
    Quote Originally Posted by UF15 View Post
    I don't really think it is as easy as just flipping a switch. For starters, it isn't just a matter of simple instructions that the CPU was doing, and then handing it off to the GPU and saying, "Here, now you do it." So I think your metaphor is way too simplified.

    ...

    So I sit here watching people claim it is just as easy as passing on instructions to the GPU, when it isn't, and think that they are in for disappointment. I don't think Palm has currently enabled any GPU acceleration yet, but if they have, it is very unimpressive.
    You're taking what I said too literally. By "flipping a switch," I meant that after the programmers and developers hundreds of hours of hard work, we'll merely download an update to our phones and the GPU will be functioning and utilized.

    Essentially, I believe the GPU being enabled on the Pre will coincide with some software that utilizes it, and where better to start with the integrated OS software direct from Palm. You do realize how long computer software and hardware are functioning in development and testing long before consumers hear about it, let along before it's released? I guarantee you that developers are coding away on GPU enabled Pres as I type this.

    And about passing instructions, again, taken too literally. We're not on a developer's forum so we don't need to be too technical. Yes, you will need different instructions and calls to utilize a co-processor, but it is by no means bleeding edge programming.
  18. #18  
    Well hasn't anyone noticed that the videos in the youtube app look much sharper?
  19. UF15's Avatar
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    #19  
    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Mo View Post
    You're taking what I said too literally. By "flipping a switch," I meant that after the programmers and developers hundreds of hours of hard work, we'll merely download an update to our phones and the GPU will be functioning and utilized.

    Essentially, I believe the GPU being enabled on the Pre will coincide with some software that utilizes it, and where better to start with the integrated OS software direct from Palm. You do realize how long computer software and hardware are functioning in development and testing long before consumers hear about it, let along before it's released? I guarantee you that developers are coding away on GPU enabled Pres as I type this.

    And about passing instructions, again, taken too literally. We're not on a developer's forum so we don't need to be too technical. Yes, you will need different instructions and calls to utilize a co-processor, but it is by no means bleeding edge programming.
    What you said is what you said. The onus isn't on me to infer things that weren't said. We don't need to bicker about it, but you are kind of changing your argument.

    Programming for the GPU isn't hard at all, it is just a ton of work and I don't think they are willing to go back and rewrite certain animations and actions to utilize the GPU. I still contend their strategy is to wait it out until CPUs are fast enough to easily handle these things. Until then, scrolling will be choppy, navigation will be laggy and animations won't be pretty. But it is a whole lot easier than trying to rebuild something they already consider to be functional. Android is doing the same thing.

    Which is disappointing to me because my biggest problem with the Pre isn't that it lacks apps or games, it is that it isn't as smooth as the iPhone, which I notice every time I use it. The hardware is there, but it isn't being utilized. I constantly notice the choppy scrolling, or checkerboards on webpages, the slow animations, laggy Google maps, and they are starting to wear on me. It isn't a refined device.

    I think that the GPU is going to be accessible, but only 3rd party apps will likely take advantage of it, and only for things that push triangles like games.
  20. UF15's Avatar
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    #20  
    Quote Originally Posted by ho0lee0h View Post
    Well hasn't anyone noticed that the videos in the youtube app look much sharper?
    I don't know if you are joking, but that could be attributed to a lot of different things if that is actually the case. Maybe the video you are looking at is higher quality than the ones you were looking at. Maybe you are on a faster internet connection. Maybe YouTube is pushing through higher resolutions to you. But I don't know if a GPU would make things "sharper" but rather make the framerates play better.
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