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Introducing Intel's Graphics Performance Analyzers

Dave Shinsel

Aaron Davies

We're joined today by Dave Shinsel, Engineering Manager of Intel's Visual Computing Software Division, and Aaron Davies, Senior Marketing Manager of the same group.

Q: Dave and Aaron, can you tell us about Intel's Graphics Performance Analyzers?

A: Sure. The GPA is made up of three parts -- the System Analyzer, Frame Analyzer, and the SDK.

The System Analyzer provides real-time performance monitoring of the game while it is running. It provides a system-level view including CPU, GPU and memory access. This allows the game developer to quickly determine where their bottlenecks are at a high-level, and decide if they should use Intel Parallel Studio to optimize the CPU workload, or use GPA Frame Analyzer to do optimization for the graphics chipset.

The Frame Analyzer provides deep analysis of performance within a single frame. Game developers can quickly see which draw calls are taking the most time, view the textures, render targets, shaders, and all DX calls that made up each draw call. Furthermore, a developer can try various experiments and immediately see the visual and performance results of their changes, such as direct modification of shaders, texture replacement or mip adjustments, or changing any of the DX states; all with real-time rendering and performance visualization!

The GPA Software Development Kit (SDK) enables developers to customize the tools in the GPA suite, allowing the developer to pull metrics out into their own tools or inject their proprietary game information directly into any of the GPA tools.

Q: What's the difference between the new GPA tools and the current IPP toolsets?

A: Intel Parallel Studio (and Intel Performance Primitives) are designed to help a broad spectrum of developers maximize the performance of their software on multi-core CPUs. This release of GPA has been specifically designed for game developers, to optimize the performance of their games on Intel graphics chipsets. The tools are very complementary; you need both to fully optimize a game, and make optimal use of both the CPU and the graphics chipset.

Q: Most Intel tool suites run on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. Same with the GPA suite?

A: In order to provide the deepest level of DirectX analysis needed by the majority of game developers, GPA currently supports the Windows platforms only.

Q: Are you doing anything special in regards to parallelization and multicore?

A: For this release of GPA, the tools are focused primarily on the GPU workload.

Q: In what way have you leveraged existing tools -- Vtune and IPP come to mind -- to build the GPA tools?

A: VTune was used internally by the tools development team to optimize GPA software.

Q: Are these "gaming" tools only, or do you expect other categories of applications to be built with them? Say video?

A: This version of GPA has been designed primarily with game developers in mind; features and product design have been directly validated by them. At this time, GPA does not include specific features to support video optimization, etc. Our motto for this product was "know your target customer, and execute with laser focus". That being said, we absolutely expect alternative markets to find value in GPA and optimize their software with these tools. The community resources we have put in place to support GPA will also ensure we realize opportunities to provide incremental value where possible, and harvest useful feedback from non-game developers.

Q: What kind of Larrabee support do the GPAs provide?

A: In the future, GPA will also support upcoming Intel graphics and many-core related products. There are some absolutely exciting features we are currently developing which will change the way people think about performance tools, and which will allow developers to truly harness unbridled computing power.

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