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Why Should Mobile Developers Care About the Hardware?

Qualcomm Incorporated April 2010

Why Should Mobile Developers Care About the Hardware?

Table of Contents

[1] Executive Summary ..................................................... 1 [2] Application Performance Enhancements ..................... 1 [3] Conclusion ................................................................. 10

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Why Should Mobile Developers Care About the Hardware?

[1] Executive Summary

One of the most important business decisions application developers make centers around which hardware development solution will drive their application or service. Tangibles such as superior application performance, quick development cycle turnaround, and greater user experience capabilities are all tantamount to developing a premium mobile experience and increasing application adoption. Todays application developers face many development challenges in the mobile environment, including: Insufficient processing power Lack of battery power Inefficient development tools Inconsistent connectivity capabilities

During application development, many of these challenges present formidable roadblocks to efficiently developing and launching products that have mass appeal and longevity. Qualcomms high-performance integrated hardware solutions and development tools address the challenges facing developers in the mobile environment. Qualcomm is one of the leading companies to offer fully integrated hardware solutions (i.e. 3G modems, Scorpion CPU, Adreno GPUs and Multimedia processing). Qualcomm solutions can allow developers to increase application functionality and reduce power consumption and development time. This can result in an improved time-tomarket and better user experience. Qualcomms industry-leading chipset solutions power a multitude of smartphones and high-end mobile devices. Developers choosing to optimize on Qualcomm chipset solutions can address a large installed base, resulting in improved ROI opportunities due to Qualcomms market position. In this paper, we explore how Qualcomm hardware enables application developers to enhance development capabilities, accelerate multimedia functionality, and lower power consumption resulting in greater user experiences. Our goal is to provide application developers worldwide with valuable insights into the many advantages Qualcomm hardware holds for them.

Figure 1- Integrated Hardware




ImprovedConnectedApplication Experience
Qualcomms Complete Solution
Integrated 3G + CPU + GPU + MM Drivers for all Major OS Broad Set of Development Tools

[2] Application Performance Enhancements

Hardware performance is one of the most important challenges an application developer considers prior to starting the development process. Application developers rely on the power of their hardware throughout the development cycle. Greater market opportunities await application developers who can achieve enhanced product performance with lower power consumption in reduced development time.
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Why Should Mobile Developers Care About the Hardware?

In the following sections, we will explore how Qualcomms high-performance integrated hardware solutions enable application developers to enhance development capabilities, accelerate multimedia functionality, and lower power consumption, which can result in overall greater user experiences.

Snapdragon Platform Qualcomms high-performance hardware solution lineup features the Snapdragon chipset platform which offers an impressive combination of processing performance and optimized power consumption for smart mobile devices. For developers, Snapdragons high-performance processing capabilities reduce CPU bottlenecks thereby enabling more robust applications (e.g. games having more complex AIs, animations and improved physics). Developers can run applications that deliver a better user experience based on greater CPU performance, while delivering a similar battery life of current generation products that provide a lesser user experience. Improved performances with Snapdragon can translate into higher frame rates for video, higher screen resolutions and faster web page renderings.
Figure 2: High-Level Diagram of Snapdragon Core CPU Processor Architecture

At the heart of Snapdragon is the custom Scorpion CPU (see figure 2). Scorpion is a high-performance microprocessor core, fully compliant with the ARMv7 instruction set architecture. Application developers may leverage the advantages found in Scorpion in a multitude of ways. For instance, at the beginning of application development, developers can focus on application creation instead of challenges associated with insufficient processing power and lack of battery life. For example, application developers can write more complex algorithms, and have them execute in a permissible unit of time, thereby delivering a superior user experience. Alternatively, a relatively simple application can run quickly over Scorpion allowing CPU sleep to transpire, resulting in extended battery life. Developers can also take advantage of Scorpion being a superscalar, dualissue micro-architecture implementation, which delivers performance capable of supporting the latest multimedia applications. Scorpions tightly coupled multimedia engine named VeNum, provides enhanced execution of multimedia algorithms that implement Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD), and floating point operations (i.e., supporting wider range values). VeNums higher peak frequency combined with a more powerful 128 bit SIMD (128bit data-path vs. 64bit competitive data-path solution) and VFPv3 instruction set implementation (micro-architecture) provides a compelling alternative to competitive solutions. VeNums industry leading support of SIMD and floating point operations enable developers to experience lower power requirements due to smaller silicon implementation. Moreover, VeNum enables forwarding of accumulate values for maximum throughput, and the elimination of unnecessary trundling, which enables developers to experience improved
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Why Should Mobile Developers Care About the Hardware?

performance due to faster computational results. The presence of a powerful software-driven multimedia engine enables developers to implement emerging multimedia standards (i.e. new Codecs) for improved user experiences over the life of a product. Developers can also benefit from Scorpions unique physical circuit implementations that boost performance, which minimizes overall code execution run times. These custom circuit implementations reduce power consumption while further enhancing the user experience by extending battery life. By starting with Qualcomms high-performance hardware solutions, application developers will have a tremendous advantage over their competitors who develop with lesser-performing hardware solutions.

Hardware Accelerator Codecs Hardware solutions that enable more compelling application functionality provide ecosystem stakeholders such as operators, application developers and device OEMs greater market opportunities to realize faster application adoption and higher revenue generation in the mobile environment. HW solutions generally provide improved performance over software based solutions. Qualcomms hardware based solutions enhance application functionality while simultaneously providing improved application efficiency and better power saving characteristics. Developers desiring greater application functionality may turn to Qualcomm hardware based solutions like the MSM7x30 platform, which features dedicated application support (i.e. a competitive differentiator) in its hardware. The MSM7x30 platform enables developers to experience improved video performance including increases in resolution; frame-rate and bit-rate functionality, when compared to alternative software based only solutions. Similarity, benefits realized in improved video power capabilities are also attributable to hardware acceleration not being decoded in software. Developers can also leverage the MSM7x30s built-in dynamic support of multiple video decode or encode instances (up to four encode or decode instances with 2 different codecs) which allows greater independent codec control. For example, independent codec support on devices provides consumers with the ability to simultaneously playback two different types of content not having the same video/audio compression standard. Such flexibility in the hardware architecture translates to a better overall user experience. A closer look at MSM7x30s dedicated video codec support in hardware reveals what application developers may expect from this state-of-the-art platform:

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Why Should Mobile Developers Care About the Hardware?

MSM 7x30

Chipset Capability Video Decode - Playback

H.263 H.264 MPEG-4 WMV-9 VC-1 MPEG-2 DivX 4/5/6 30fps @ FWVGA, 2Mbps 30fps @ 720p, 14Mbps 30fps @ 720p, 14Mbps 30fps @ 720p, 14Mbps 30fps @ 720p, 14Mbps 30fps @ 720p, 14Mbps 30fps @ 720p, 14Mbps

Video Encode
H.263 H.264 MPEG-4 30fps @ FWVGA, 2Mbps 30fps @ 720p, 14Mbps 30fps @ 720p, 14Mbps

Moreover, substantial CPU load savings can be realized by developers who utilize hardware accelerated codecs solutions rather than software based alternatives. For example, as illustrated in figure 3, developers who adopt Qualcomms hardware accelerated codec solutions for decoding on-device video and audio applications, can experience tremendous CPU load savings when compared to just running applications on the processor. Furthermore, Qualcomms hardware solutions featuring hardware accelerated codecs, allows enablement of better concurrency and device responsiveness, when heavy computing tasks such as, video decoding or encoding is offloaded from the CPU to dedicated hardware. For developers, the performance advantages found in hardware based application support (via hardware codec access) is game changing. Aditional hardware based advantages can also be realized in the form of power management efficiencies. Qualcomms hardware based solutions enable developers to reduce power requirements without sacrificing their application performance. These solutions allow for high frequency at minimum voltage levels for given
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technologies, while maximizing energy efficiency. This is particularly relevant for applications such as mobile gaming, in which energy efficiency is as important as performance.

Figure 3: Hardware Accelerator Codecs Enable CPU Load Savings

Better On-Device Multimedia Playback


CPU Load (1Ghz)




Software Hardware




Audio AAC Decode

Video 30fps @ VGA

Video 30fps @ 720p

Source: Qualcomm simulation and analysis

Additional optimized power management capabilities are also supported in hardware based solutions which enable developers to provide extended user-engagements in a given application. By intelligently designing an abundance of hardware accelerators and hardware block elements for coding, Qualcomm has achieved lower power requirements over software based techniques. For instance, developers concerns of writing power-efficient applications are directly addressed by hardware based support solutions. By providing requisite functionality, Qualcomms hardware based solutions allow creative intelligent planning when deciding how to build applications. For example, developers building with hardware based video codecs use less power than software based solutions. Similarly, developers who have the ability to reduce the amount of GPS fixes in a position-location application can have a significant impact on a users battery life. Access to Qualcomms hardware accelerated codecs such as video, are supported through OpenMax IL, and are available to Qualcomm device OEMs, whom application developers can work with for access to OpenMax IL APIs. Developers designing their applications around Qualcomms hardware accelerated codec solutions will experience improved application performance, lower CPU utilization, better optimized power consumption and greater user experiences among other advantages.

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Why Should Mobile Developers Care About the Hardware?

Open VG OpenVG is an open, industry standard, cross-platform API that provides a low-level hardware acceleration interface for vector graphics libraries like SVG & Flash. OpenVG enables concurrent use of 2D graphics with other formats and functions, and is designed to work with OpenGL ES. When OpenVG is coupled with Qualcomms Adreno GPU solutions, developers can experience unparalleled performance and power optimization advantages. OpenVG provides developers with the ability to enhance and enable a multitude of applications including; mapping, gaming, e-book readers and mobile Web browsers. Moreover, developers may take advantage of OpenVGs ability to enable two-dimensional overlays (i.e. useful for UIs, maps or game scores) on top of 3D content to provide a more robust user experience. OpenVG can also act as a low-level graphics device interface, enhancing other graphical toolkits such as Windowing Systems. Before diving further into the OpenVG solution, we will briefly explore how Qualcomms Adreno GPU offerings complement OpenVG. Then, well discuss in more detail the advantages of OpenVG for developers, especially those that relate to the dedicated 2D hardware introduced on the Adreno 205 GPU. Adreno is the brand name of Qualcomms family of integrated graphics processing units (GPUs), which are integrated within Qualcomms MSMs on a single chip (SoC). Adreno GPUs can include 3D and 2D graphics hardware as well as graphics software, such as drivers, compilers and development tools. Adreno solutions enable developers to easily utilize GPU functionality for rendering user interfaces, Web pages, games, navigation applications, and much more. Adreno solutions come in different versions, which correspond to the level of graphics performance and APIs supported in the GPUs. The Adreno GPUs found in commercial devices today include: Adreno 130 is the first Adreno GPU with complete hardware support for 3D graphics. APIs supported include OpenGL ES 1.1, OpenVG 1.1, EGL 1.3, Direct3D Mobile, SVGT 1.2, Direct Draw and GDI. The Adreno 130 enables concurrent CPU, DSP, Graphics, and MDP and includes a fixed function graphics pipeline. Adreno 200 is the first OGLES 2.0 GPU with unified shader architecture and makes maximum use of the graphics processing power of the GPU. This GPU is a leap forward in visual graphics quality from OpenGL-Es 1.x, which enables developers to implement effects that were previously a daunting task. APIs supported include OpenGL ES 2.0, OpenGL ES 1.1, OpenVG 1.1, EGL 1.3, Direct3D Mobile, SVGT 1.2 and DirectDraw. The Adreno 200 delivers streaming textures to combine Video, Camera, SVG and other image surfaces with 3D graphics. It also enables concurrent CPU, DSP, Graphics, and MDP and includes a programmable function graphics pipeline.

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Why Should Mobile Developers Care About the Hardware?

Adreno 205 features dedicated 2D Open VG Graphics hardware and enhanced 3D hardware, which provides greatly accelerated SVG and Adobe Flash, allowing even higher-quality 2D rendering. Adreno 205 also utilizes less CPU; at significantly reduced power utilization levels.

The combination of Qualcomms OpenVG solution and Adreno 205 provide a uniquely powerful market solution. On Adreno 130 and 200, OpenVG is implemented on top of OpenGL ES. This implementation does require tessellation and for that it relies heavily on the CPU. With Adreno 205, Qualcomm offers an OpenVG solution that is implemented directly on dedicated 2D hardware. This unique implementation provides unprecedented and unparalleled graphics rendering, performance and power optimization. Graphics visual quality and anti-aliasing is sharp and fast, and Adreno 205 utilizes less power by only using 2D hardware for 2D graphics rendering. In this case, CPU resources arent required for OpenGL ES tessellation operations, thereby allowing 3D hardware to shut down when only 2D graphics are being rendered. Moreover, Adreno 205 enables developers to make heavy, complex use of concurrent 3D and 2D graphics, which benefits many use cases, including UIs, graphical and text overlays in a 3D scene, and gaming applications, among others. Developers may also leverage OpenVGs ability to enhance video postprocessing on Adreno 205 by directly accepting the YUV format, thereby removing the RGB conversion step. This illustrates one of the other unique differentiating strong points of Qualcomms Adreno GPUs, which is tight integration with other multimedia technologies that are also delivered on Qualcomm chipsets. Developers can access OpenVG natively on all mobile operating systems supported by Qualcomm chipsets, including Linux/Android. OpenVG is available on the high-level operating systems for BREW, BREW Mobile Platform, Windows Mobile 6.x and Windows Mobile 7. For developers, the coupling of OpenVG and Adreno 205 provides previously unavailable benefits such as, faster and higher-quality vector graphics rendering and efficient CPU utilization (i.e. concurrent 3D & 2D graphics and decreased power utilization). Qualcomms OpenVG and Adreno solution advantages enable developers to maximize their application development and provide greater user experiences in the mobile environment.

3D Audio Effects Superior graphics and enhanced audio functionality go hand in hand when creating an application that enables an immersive user experience. Previous generations of mobile processors neglected audio capabilities and performance. These audio oversights, forced developers who valued audio functionalities, to implement their own software-based audio processing schemes within the application, which unfortunately, consumed valuable
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Why Should Mobile Developers Care About the Hardware?

cycle time. As a result, some real-time applications werent realized on mobile platforms due to lack of performance. Qualcomms integrated chipset solutions (i.e. Snapdragon platform) address audio performance challenges head-on, by enabling developers to take advantage of embedded digital signal processors (DSPs), which provide greater user experiences. For example, many applications like mobile games play multiple sounds simultaneously such as, the playing of background music tracks while sound effects are trigged in the foreground (i.e. referred to as audio layering). Since the decoding of MP3 streams is already accomplished in the DSP, its a natural fit to mix multiple audio streams in the hardware. This enhanced audio functionality enables developers to implement their entire audio path at higher sampling rates than a software mixer could process, thereby yielding higher quality audio outputs. Moreover, by leveraging DSP decoder functionality, source audio streams can be encoded as AAC instead of MP3, resulting in smaller file sizes. These smaller AAC files further benefit developers by providing a reduction of bandwidth in applications where the files are transferred over the air, thereby enabling a better user experience. Presently, developers utilize graphic hardware solutions to give games and UIs the third dimension of depth. Dimension of depth functionality is achievable with audio through Qualcomms QAudioFX 3D positional engine. Developers designing applications around 3D positional audio solutions from the start (i.e. such as first-person games etc), will benefit greatly from the added dimensional depth QAudioFX will provide. For example, audio gaming cues placed around the user will signal a car passing from behind, or an enemy approaching from the side, long before they appear on the device screen. These types of enhanced audio functionalities enable developers to vastly increase the users 3D environment. Moreover, since the QAudioFX engine will be implemented in the DSP, developers incur little penalty in incorporating 3D positional audio functionality. Currently, QAudioFX and related features are not available to the developers. It is planned to be supported on devices in the later part of 2010. Developers can also look forward to taking advantage of QAudioFXs reverberation engine capabilities. One challenge developers face in working with quality reverb algorithms is that they require a significant amount of memory for delay buffers. Qualcomms DSP-based audio solution allocates delay buffers in the hardware, thereby freeing up memory for the application. For example, in a racing game, rather than switching sound files when the vehicle enters a tunnel, developers can make a single API call to enable reverb. Another API call allows the developer to disable the reverb when the vehicle exits the tunnel. Developers desiring music functionality in their applications can leverage CMX, Qualcomms DSP-based MIDI synthesizer. Genuinely, realisticsounding instruments require a synthesizer with many articulators and a wavetable with large samples. While equivalent software synthesizers may be realized on todays mobile processors, they come with a price namely,
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greater cycle and power consumption requirements. Qualcomms CMX solution output quality rivals PC sound cards, to the extent that developers may want to revisit MIDI in situations where they need to minimize audio file sizes. The hardware accelerated CMX capabilities are currently available on BREW platforms. Other high-level operating systems have similar MIDI capabilities but are enabled though software solutions. Hardware-based 3D audio effects solutions by Qualcomm will provide powerful differentiating performance advantages for developers seeking a competitive edge in creating applications that contain a greater immersive user experience.

gpsOne Position Location Developers wishing to advance their applications to the next level with optimized position location based service functionality can do so with Qualcomms gpsOne solution. gpsOne enables application developers to create compelling, differentiated services through a combination of simplified API access and optimized user behavior characteristics. The gpsOne solution enhances the user experience by allowing real-time location awareness and presence functionality during application engagements. What sets the gpsOne solution apart is its ability to make use of multiple location technologies within a given request. For instance, if application developers require position location indoors or in other difficult environments, gpsOnes advanced wireless positioning techniques like Advanced Forward Link Trilateration (AFLT), found in CDMA2000 or Measured Results List (MRL) in WCDMA, enables quick location and presence availability in the toughest environments. AFLT and MRL act as handset-based position location technologies that assist overall GPS functionality and accuracy in challenging environments. If, on the other hand, extreme position functionality such as real-time tracking in all environments is required, the coupling of AFLT and MRL working in conjunction with A-GPS forms a Hybrid solution which provides a superior all-encompassing location offering. A-GPS, also known as assisted-GPS is a position location technology developed by Qualcomm, which integrates data from both wireless network base stations and GPS satellites to provide location accuracy. With Qualcomms gpsOne solution, developers also have the added benefit of accessing coarse position injection and behavioral intermediate positioning two highly optimized LBS elements which can further application enhancement. Coarse position injection assists applications in acquiring faster GPS engine start ups, thereby enabling quicker position readouts. Behavioral intermediate positioning (simplified API access only offered by Qualcomm) enables applications to acquire intermediate positioning functionality (i.e., delivers rapid position capability), while continuing to refine the location accuracy provided to the application over time. For instance, users can experience fast responses in all
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Why Should Mobile Developers Care About the Hardware?

environments, in addition to precise positioning capabilities, as the solution works to refine the users position. Many applications can take advantage of immediate availability of position fixes with lower accuracy. For example, applications featuring download functionality that dont require the need of higher accuracy can begin content download without delay. Then, as accuracy continues to improve, these applications can continue to make use of additional capabilities enabled by the accuracy available at that time. Case in point; consider an application that begins to download a list of Joes coffee shops found in San Diego, based on a city accuracy position output. When the application further refines the users position to an area of town, it highlights the nearest Joes coffee shop location, and provides street corner level turn by turn directions. The alternative (i.e. traditional competitive approach) approach would have the user waiting for street corner accuracy outputs before the application gathers the necessary data for device presentation download. Developers can also enable greater user engagement with gpsOne solutions for applications like mobile gaming and social networking. For example, mobile gamers could leverage their playing skills against opposition challengers within a defined radius of their own location. Similarly, users communicating over a social networking site may enhance session engagements with geo-tagging or geo-caching activities. Qualcomms gpsOne solution enables developers to design more compelling applications that drive more user involvement without sacrificing application performance and device power levels.

[3] Conclusion
The selection of hardware development solutions by application developers is critical to the overall success of their commercial application offerings. Qualcomms high performance integrated hardware solutions provide application developers with the right combination of performance, power optimization and short development turnarounds that enable the efficient development of enhanced applications. Around the world, developers who have adopted Qualcomms integrated hardware solutions, have the freedom to imagine and design, more complex and compelling applications than were previously possible. Today, mobile applications based on Qualcomm integrated hardware solutions are empowering people and transforming the way they live, learn, work and play.

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