As mobile devices get more powerful and use cases get more complicated, users start to expect more graphical sophistication not only in their games but also in fluid and responsive user interfaces as well. That is why Qualcomm, one of the leading system-on-chip manufacturers today, is continually working on improving its Adreno graphics chips, the fruits of which we may start seeing early next year.
Adreno is the name given to the series of graphics processing units or GPUs developed by Qualcomm to go along with its processors. The most recent GPU at the moment is the Adreno 330 which comes with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chip that is found in most high-end smartphones today. The company is rumored to be working on a next-generation Adreno 400 that is set to unveil together with the next Snapdragon processor.
There is very little detail on what the Adreno 400 will be bringing to the table, though it is only natural to expect that it will outdo the Adreno 330 to some extent. Currently the Adreno 330 has a 3.6 gigapixels per second fillrate, that is the amount of pixels it can render in one second, while the Adreno 320 before it was able to get 3.2 gigapixels per second. It is reasonable to speculate that the next chip could potentially reach or even surpass the 4.0 gigapixel mark. There are rumors, however, that the Adreno 400 will remove support for OpenCL, the Open Computing Language framework that allows programs to utilize the GPU, which is inherently faster than the CPU at number-crunching, as if it were a normal processor. That may, however, have very little effect on Android as the mobile platform does not inherently use OpenCL and has an equivalent framework called Renderscript instead.
Much of the Adreno 400 is still shrouded in mystery but that might change in a few months' time. Qualcomm is expected to unveil its next Snapdragon, and thus the next Adreno, at the Consumer Electronics Show in early 2014.