You might remember that I blogged previously about Graphics Performance Analyzers (GPA), a free suite of tools that can be used to optimise the performance of graphics-intensive applications, including games. The good news is that Intel has now released version 4.0, which is available for download now, free to members of Intel’s Visual Adrenaline Developer Program, which is also free to join.
The new release has many new features, but one of my favourites is the ability to configure triggers to capture frame or trace files. You could set it to capture data on all frames that render at less than 20fps, for example. That helps developers to manage by exception and focus their attention on those frames that present potential problems, without getting bogged down processing data for frames that present no problems.
That said, another way that GPA really helps is by using graphs and other visual representations to make it easy for developers to understand all the data at a glance. Version 4.0 offers a new development in this respect: the Heads-Up Display (HUD). The name is borrowed from the term used for virtual dashboards in military aircraft and computer games, where the speed clocks are superimposed on the view. In GPA, you can see the key performance metrics overlaid on the frame itself in real time, as shown in the picture. This can help you to identify whether your application is CPU or GPU bound, and to capture data that can be further analysed using Intel GPA Frame Analyzer (if GPU bound) or Intel GPA Platform Analyzer (if CPU bound).
The Intel GPA Frame Analyzer provides detailed insight into what’s going on in a particular frame, including all the Microsoft DirectX context and the GPU metrics for each draw call or region of the frame. You can analyse by frame, render target or draw call. Intel GPA Frame Analyzer has been enhanced with Multiple Render Target (MRT) view for games that use that feature, and vendor-specific texture types.
The new release introduces compatibility with Microsoft DirectX 11 and offers new GPU metrics when running on Intel HD Graphics 2000/3000 hardware.
The suite includes a beta release of Intel GPA Platform Analyzer, now a standalone application and previously known as the Platform View in Intel GPA 3.0. It includes a new tracing API that makes it easier to instrument games to gather data from them.
What do you think of the new features? What would be on your wishlist for the next version?