Intel shows off CPU/GPU debugger and analyst for Android

GDC 2012: Tools for phones, x86 phones that is

Intel - logoIntel was showing off some developer tools for their x86 Android phones at GDC including a CPU/GPU analyst/debugger. This is rather useful because the vast majority of tools out there are ARM centric, not x86.

The tool itself is the familiar Graphics Performance Analyzer 2012, AKA GPA 2012. If you have been paying attention, 2012 is the next version after 4.3, you didn’t miss 2000+ versions in the last few months. Intel may release updates regularly, but 5+ a day for over a year is asking a little much. We will assume you are familiar with the basics of a performance analyzer and not go over the basics this time.

What is new this round is support for Android, specifically Android for x86, and a few features that work well with phones. think of GPA 2012 as a one stop shop for coding on Medfield based phones. It now supports OpenCL 1.1, quite useful in light of the Imagination GPU inside the SoC, at least until the 22nm Atoms ship.

Unfortunately, GPA only supports native x86 code, something that is currently a vanishingly small percentage of the Android code base, Davlik is currently opaque to GPA. To balance this out, GPA doesn’t need rooted phones or special Android builds with debugging hooks built in, it should be supported by all, currently one, Intel phones on the market. Here, Intel definitely has a great advantage over the patchwork and piecemeal ARM SoC tools and devices landscape.

One other nice feature of the tools is power measurement. You can readout power in line with the other functions to see on a per-frame basis how much energy you use. Couple this with real time tweaking of parameters, and you end up with a very useful view in to power optimizations for phones. Take a look at this video, you can see how it works in real time.

Intel tools in action at GDC

Luckily for most users, Intel did a pretty solid job of emulating ARM code, so you probably won’t need to dig down in to your Xolo X900 with GPA to make your daily life livable. If you do want to write code for x86 Android phones though, you probably want this tool. Unfortunately, you can’t actually get this tool unless you are an OEM making a phone, quite the hurdle for the weekend coder needing to optimize frame rates on his “one fart app to rule them all” project.

To make matters a lot worse, Intel once again scores an own goal with platform support, GPA 2012 will not run on any of Intel OSes, just Windows. At GDC, SemiAccurate was told it would run on Linux, but that seems to be MIA once again. Other than this critical failure, GPA 2012 looks like a useful set of tools for writing mobile x86 code, if they ever come out with a Linux versions, we will recommend it.S|A

Editors note: You can learn more about this type of material at AFDS 2012. More articles of this type can be found on SemiAccurate’s AFDS 2012 links page.  Special for our readers if you register for AFDS 2012 and use promo code SEMI12, you get $50 off.  Other ways to have fun is to play the easter egg hunt there is a bonus just for playing.

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate