Android 3.0 Allowing Lower Level Hardware Access

Aron Schatz
February 10, 2011

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Google will be pushing new programming APIs into Android 3.0 to allow closer to hardware manipulation. The higher you get in abstraction, the slower the programs will be (to a point). This will allow developers to get closer to the hardware to make more high performance programs.


he new interface, is called Renderscript, said R. Jason Sams, an Android performance and graphics programmer at Google. He didn't say so in so many words, but the goal for the feature has to be better games on Android. It's a broader feature, though: it's used in Honeycomb's YouTube and Books apps.

"The target audience is the set of developers looking to maximize the performance of their applications and are comfortable working closer to the metal to achieve this," Sams said in a blog post yesterday. "The target use is for performance-critical code segments where the needs exceed the abilities of the existing APIs."

To that end, Renderscript exposes two hardware-accelerated interfaces, one for rendering 3D graphics and one for for power-efficient computing operations. To use it, Renderscript relies on a variant of the C99 version of the C programming language. And the Renderscript plumbing that comes along with Honeycomb, aka Android 3.0, makes the decisions about whether to run the computing jobs on regular or graphics processors.

Sounds like a bit of OpenCL is thrown into the mix.



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