The development of modern smartphones is similar to the development of computers, only sizes are different. It means that smartphones have processors, RAM, memory drive and, surely, graphic accelerator. Graphic accelerator is a chip which provides realistic and colorful graphics for 3D games.
Most of the smartphones at the market have one of the three types of graphic accelerators. These are Mali, Adreno, PowerVR SGX and GeForce Ultra-Low Power (ULP).
British company ARM is involved into the development of Mali graphic architecture. These chips are components of different systems on chip (SoC). Mali is used in the products by Samsung, Gigabyte, Rockchip, and others. For example, Mali-400 MP is a component of SoC Samsung Exynos 421x, which is used in Samsung Galaxy S II and S III.
PowerVR is a development of the Imagination Technologies company, which earlier developed graphic accelerators for desktops. PowerVR chips are used by Samsung, Apple, Motorola and others. Thus, different PowerVR chips generations are installed in all Apple iPhones.
Speakinh about the Adreno, I can say that at the moment Adreno department of mobile graphics is owned by Qualcomm. They bought the technology from AMD. And I think it’s be enough to say that today Qualcomm is the leading supplier of hardware for most mobile developers.
GeForce ULP is a mobile version of desktop graphic accelerator NVIDIA, which is a component of Tegra SoC of in all generations. The main advantage of Tegra before its competitors is a specialized content which is intended only for devices based on this SoC. This is due to the close cooperation of NVIDIA with game developers who optimize their games for GeForce graphics. All games optimized for Tegra can be found in a special app store Tegra Zone.
Techivian has done its own testing of the most popular video chips and has got the following results:
In other words, if you need a smartphone that will be able to work with “heavy” 3D games a year after its release, then you need to buy a device with top graphic accelerator. These are Mali 400, Adreno 225 and Adreno 320. For casual 2D games a smartphone with graphic accelerator of medium class, such as Adreno 200 and 205, PowerVR SGX543, and Mali 300. They will provide graphics on the PSP level.
But very soon we may expect that mobile chips will provide the graphics of best gaming devices. For example, chip Mali-T658, which is to be released this year, will improve efficiency up to 10 times if compared to Mali-400.