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  1. imekul's Avatar
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    Once webOS starts fully using the GPU, that will obviously make the OS run smoother and all.

    What I'm wondering is how likely it is that having GPU drivers would increase battery life, as well. As the battery life on the Pre is one of its potential negative points, if the OS could run more efficiently in the future, that would be a huge plus.

    Any thoughts on what kind of improvement, if any, we would see in power consumption once full GPU support is implemented?

    While I'm at it, what about other non-GPU OS tweaks? Is it likely that webOS will be tweaked to run more efficiently, extending the battery life?
  2. #2  
    During heavy gaming? Sure. But how much really graphics intense stuff are you doing? Flipping the menu up and down as quickly as you can?

    The biggest battery drain is probably the radios. A couple hundred thousand more Sprint towers so you have no roaming and full bars and I bet battery life improves dramatically.

    After that, taking advantage of the processor's speed scaling. Hopefully that will be a webOS update, since it's a pretty big waste to have the capability but leave it locked at a fixed speed.
  3. #3  
    I would say yes. A GPU is a ton more efficient at rendering things like transitions than the CPU will be. Plus, its on anyway consuming power. It would be better to put it to work and take some cycles off the CPU!
  4. #4  
    Probably not. The amount of time spent drawing graphics is probably minor compared to cost of laying out the DOM tree for HTML and CSS rendering, not to mention the Javascript.
  5. s219's Avatar
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    It will probably have a big effect. First, we'd be offloading the drawing tasks from the CPU. Right now, it's extremely inefficient to do that stuff on the CPU, and it's a huge burden for it to handle (software rendering is a serious load). Second, we'd be shuffling rendering tasks to a GPU that is made specifically for this kind of work. It can do it without breaking a sweat. So in terms of the rendering work load and allocating it to the proper machinery, I think the GPU will undoubtedly have an effect.
  6. #6  
    Quote Originally Posted by s219 View Post
    It will probably have a big effect. First, we'd be offloading the drawing tasks from the CPU. Right now, it's extremely inefficient to do that stuff on the CPU, and it's a huge burden for it to handle (software rendering is a serious load). Second, we'd be shuffling rendering tasks to a GPU that is made specifically for this kind of work. It can do it without breaking a sweat. So in terms of the rendering work load and allocating it to the proper machinery, I think the GPU will undoubtedly have an effect.
    I agree with s219. The CPU is excellent at moderate HTML, Javascript, and CSS, but when I load multiple apps as well as Music Player, etc then the phone starts to lag because the CPU has to process both the graphics and internals. The GPU will most likely take the majority of the burden of graphics off the battery. You will more likely see a greater impact in battery efficiency when you put more strain on the phone via apps, services, games...


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  7. #7  
    Quote Originally Posted by imekul View Post
    Any thoughts on what kind of improvement, if any, we would see in power consumption once full GPU support is implemented?
    Will the phone operate in a smoother fashion as far as the UI goes? Most likely. Will the battery life improve? Most likely not. I just spent 2 weeks in Phoenix with a coworker. He had an iPhone and I had my Pre. We both used the GPS functions of our phones as well as data (for e-mail) and phone calls. The iPhone does use it's GPU and the UI is smoother. However, we both would run out of juice at roughly the same time.
    Terry Rodecker

    Palm Pilot -> Palm V -> Treo 650 -> Treo 700p -> 700wx -> ppc6700 -> BB 8830 -> Pre -> iPhone (company requirement) -> TouchPad
  8. #8  
    Quote Originally Posted by trodecke View Post
    Will the phone operate in a smoother fashion as far as the UI goes? Most likely. Will the battery life improve? Most likely not. I just spent 2 weeks in Phoenix with a coworker. He had an iPhone and I had my Pre. We both used the GPS functions of our phones as well as data (for e-mail) and phone calls. The iPhone does use it's GPU and the UI is smoother. However, we both would run out of juice at roughly the same time.
    This is a good point. It is likely that any increase in battery life we would see would be canceled out by the fact that another chip inside the phone has to be powered on. The biggest advantages to enabling the GPU are having a smoother interface, freeing the CPU to work on other things(more cards open), and having 3D games/2D games with nicer effects.
  9. s219's Avatar
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    #9  
    Quote Originally Posted by trodecke View Post
    Will the phone operate in a smoother fashion as far as the UI goes? Most likely. Will the battery life improve? Most likely not. I just spent 2 weeks in Phoenix with a coworker. He had an iPhone and I had my Pre. We both used the GPS functions of our phones as well as data (for e-mail) and phone calls. The iPhone does use it's GPU and the UI is smoother. However, we both would run out of juice at roughly the same time.
    Apples to oranges, no pun intended. You'd really need to compare both devices with and without graphics acceleration.
  10. s219's Avatar
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    #10  
    Quote Originally Posted by Armchair Commando View Post
    This is a good point. It is likely that any increase in battery life we would see would be canceled out by the fact that another chip inside the phone has to be powered on. The biggest advantages to enabling the GPU are having a smoother interface, freeing the CPU to work on other things(more cards open), and having 3D games/2D games with nicer effects.
    First off, there's a good chance it's already powered and running, and you're paying some nominal overhead anyhow. But the main point is that the GPU is a much more efficient tool for rendering, by orders of magnitude. A load that pulls "X" watts of power on the CPU may only pull X/1000 watts on the GPU. It's that much of a difference. Any rendering that can be diverted to the GPU will result in a net reduction, no doubt about it.
  11. #11  
    Quote Originally Posted by s219 View Post
    First off, there's a good chance it's already powered and running, and you're paying some nominal overhead anyhow. But the main point is that the GPU is a much more efficient tool for rendering, by orders of magnitude. A load that pulls "X" watts of power on the CPU may only pull X/1000 watts on the GPU. It's that much of a difference. Any rendering that can be diverted to the GPU will result in a net reduction, no doubt about it.
    The OMAP processor, like most current-gen microcontrollers, supports very efficient power management. Each peripheral can be individually enabled, put to sleep, or turned off completely, so as long as Palm has remembered to turn off the GPU clock, there is no power overhead for having all that wasted silicon.

    I agree that enabling the GPU and supplying it with efficient code would unquestionably improve battery life. Whether this improvement is measured in hours, minutes, or microseconds is unknown and something we really can't speculate about.

    The fundamental principles of power management in a mobile device are to keep as many peripherals in as deep a sleep as possible for as long as possible (minimize duty cycle) and, during waking periods, to do as much work as quickly as possible (maximize chip resources).

    Bottom line: the GPU is presumably much more efficient at graphics tasks than the CPU. Offloading these tasks will cause more power draw while the CPU/GPU is active, but will allow both to return to sleep much faster. The incremental cost of running the GPU is small compared to time*power savings.

    Executing this requires complicated and well-architected software. That takes engineering resources. My take is that we may (or may not) eventually see the GPU in use, but I'm not placing any bets on the former.

    Food for thought: the Pre's GPU supports OpenGL 1.x; the Pixi's processor supports 2.0... is Palm really planning to offer GPU acceleration support to two disjoint platforms?
  12. s219's Avatar
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    #12  
    Quote Originally Posted by SiniStereO View Post
    Food for thought: the Pre's GPU supports OpenGL 1.x; the Pixi's processor supports 2.0... is Palm really planning to offer GPU acceleration support to two disjoint platforms?
    If it's like the iPhone (where the 3GS supports 2.0 but the older devices only support 1.1) then we can target 1.1 with our apps and it will run on all devices. If you want to take advantage of the newer 2.0 features, then you are limited to the newer hardware. So far, a few games are doing this, but the vast majority are sticking with 1.1 specs.

    EDIT: I just looked in my notes, and I am pretty sure the PowerVR SGX 530 in the Pre supports OpenGL ES 2.0. It damn well better, as webGL is based on 2.0....
    Last edited by s219; 09/22/2009 at 05:36 PM.

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