Uplinq 2011: Dave Durnil on how aggressive Snapdragon support is raising the bar for Android gaming

#uplinq From profiling tools to Bullet physics, Unreal Engine 3, AR, shader code and AllJoyn

Uplinq 2011: Dave Durnil on how aggressive Snapdragon support is raising the bar for Android gaming
It makes its money from licensing chipset designs but that doesn't mean Qualcomm isn't involved in the software development business.

Games are a key element in ensuring consumers have great content to experience when they buy a device containing one of the company's Snapdragon chips.

It's a situation that's seen Qualcomm funding the development of new games, such as Southend's Desert Winds, a high-end Android slasher, and the just announced BunnyMaze.

From Greek studio Eyelead, it's being ported to Android from Facebook, and was highlighted in Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs' keynote in the 3D stereoscopic package.

Expanding the market

"Part of our bigger strategy is how we bring bigger and better game experiences to mobile," says Dave Durnil, Qualcomm's director of Advanced Content & Gaming.

"It's not just about making games that work on Snapdragon. We're looking to make games bigger and better for everyone."

Still, as the announcement of Qualcomm's first Game Pack of over a hundred Snapdragon-optimised titles - a mixture of high-end and casual games - demonstrates, while such titles will work well on all Android hardware, they'll play best on Snapdragon.

"We've spent a lot of time optimising these games for our Adreno GPU in terms of the graphics and shaders, while for the casual games it's often a case of tuning the load balancing and multi-threading on the dual CPU for better physics performance," Durnil explains.

And Qualcomm's not finished either. A second game pack containing very high-end games optimised for quad-core architectures, and middleware such as the Unreal Engine 3, is already being worked on.

Tools for all

As further evidence of its commitment to game developers, Durnil points to its real-time GPU profiling tools - an area in which he says Qualcomm is leading the market - and its collaboration with GPU programmer Wolfgang Engel to optimise, tune and make available the 50 most used mobile game shaders.

Next up is work to ensure the Bullet physics engine is optimised for dual-core chips, as well as the ARM NEON SIMD processor used in Snapdragon.

"We'll open source this work for anyone who wants to use it at some point later in the year," he reveals.

Throw into the mix the company's AllJoyn peer-to-peer framework - now available as an open sourced SDK - its push with Android and iOS augmented reality tools, early work on cloud-based gaming and HTML5, and it's clear Qualcomm is prepared to spend money and resources to speed up innovation in areas it thinks are key for the mobile ecosystem.

Be the best

Underpinning it all is the drive to do what Durnil calls 'going beyond console games'.

"Qualcomm is the world's expert in wireless," he says. "There are things we can do with 4G, augmented reality, 3D stereoscopic cameras...

"There are lots of areas we're looking at to see how we can bring them to bear on making mobile gaming bigger and better. 2012 is going to be really interesting."
Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.