Android GPU Inspector

Making the Most of Mobile GPUs

What Is Android GPU Inspector (AGI)?

Most modern smartphones are equipped with system-on-a-chip graphical processing units (GPUs). In Android phones, GPUs are used to render images and video more efficiently by the operating system and specific apps, especially graphic-intensive apps like games.

The Android GPU Inspector (AGI) is a graphics profiling tool that has been designed by Google to help developers optimize their apps for better performance on Android devices. The tool provides deep insights into how an app is interacting with the GPU, enabling developers to identify inefficiencies and bottlenecks that might be hampering the performance of their applications.

This is part of a series of articles about Multi GPU.

Features and Capabilities of AGI

Frame Profiling

This feature allows developers to see exactly how each frame in their application is being rendered by the GPU. This level of detail can be useful for identifying bottlenecks and inefficiencies that might be slowing down your app. Using the frame profiler, you can see exactly where your app is spending its time, allowing you to optimize your code for better performance.

GPU Counter Metrics

GPU counter metrics provide developers with information about how their app is interacting with the GPU. The metrics include details about memory usage, power consumption, and more, giving developers a clear picture of how their app is performing and where improvements can be made.

Shader Performance Analysis

Shaders are a class of objects that return horizontal spans of colors during drawing. Shader performance analysis allows developers to see how their shaders are performing and identify any potential issues. The tool provides detailed information about each shader, including how long it takes to compile and run, making it easier for developers to optimize their code.

Memory and Bandwidth Utilization

AGI makes it easier to optimize memory and bandwidth usage for graphics-intensive apps. It provides detailed information about how your app is using memory and bandwidth, allowing you to identify areas where improvements can be made.

Real-Time Visualization and Insights

Real-time visualization and insights allow developers to see exactly what their app is doing at any given moment, providing a level of insight that was previously almost unimaginable. With real-time visualization, you can see exactly how your app is interacting with the GPU, making it easier to identify and fix performance issues.

Android GPU Inspector: Potential Challenges

Here are some possible issues you might face when using Android GPU Inspector.

Compatibility Issues

The Android GPU Inspector is designed to work with specific devices and Android versions. In addition, the Android GPU Inspector currently supports a limited number of GPU architectures and Android versions. If you're using a device or an Android version that is not supported, you might encounter difficulties.


Profiling tools typically impose some overhead due to the additional work they perform to gather data. This overhead can affect your app's performance during profiling, making it harder to isolate performance issues.

The Android GPU Inspector is no exception. While it provides a wealth of detailed information, it does so at the cost of some performance overhead.

No Cross-Platform Support

Currently, the Android GPU Inspector only supports Android devices, which is understandable given that it is a tool developed by Google for Android devices. However, if you're developing a cross-platform game or app, it won’t provide a complete solution.

Quick Tutorial: Using Android GPU Inspector

Now that we've gone over the features and capabilities of AGI, let's discuss how to use it.

Step 1: Connect to an Android Device

To use AGI, the first thing you need to do is connect it to an Android device. This involves installing the AGI tool on your development machine and connecting your Android device via USB. Once the device is connected, you can start profiling your app.

Step 2: Capturing a Graphics Trace

Once you've connected your device, the next step is to capture a graphics trace. This involves running your app and using AGI to record how it interacts with the GPU. The trace will provide you with a wealth of information about your app's performance, including details about memory usage, power consumption, and more.

Source: Android Developers

Step 3: Analyzing Frame Data

AGI's frame profiler presents a timeline view of the GPU workload, enabling you to see how your app's frames are rendered. This wealth of information can help identify areas of concern, such as frames that take too long to render, leading to a drop in performance.

Through the analysis of frame data, you can also gain insights into how different parts of your application are interacting with the GPU. This can help you understand if any particular aspect of your app is causing a bottleneck, allowing you to prioritize your optimization efforts.

Source: Android Developers

Identifying Bottlenecks and Performance Issues

AGI provides a variety of useful metrics that can help you identify performance issues. These include GPU time, memory usage, and shader performance. By examining these metrics, you can understand where your application is consuming excessive resources and make necessary optimizations.

In addition, AGI's performance counters can provide a deeper understanding of what's happening within the GPU. These counters can highlight aspects such as memory bandwidth, cache hit/miss ratios, and other critical information that can point to potential performance issues.

Android GPU Inspector Optimization Techniques

Here are a few techniques you can use to optimize app performance with AGI.

Optimizing Render Passes

A render pass is a sequence of operations that generate a certain output on the screen. Optimizing these passes can significantly enhance your app's performance. AGI provides detailed insights into each render pass, including the shaders used, the resources bound, and the commands issued.

By analyzing this data, you can identify which render passes are consuming the most resources or taking the longest to execute. You can then optimize these passes by reducing the number of operations, using more efficient shaders, or binding fewer resources.

Reducing Shader Complexity

Shaders are programs that run on the GPU and perform computations for rendering. They can have a significant impact on your app's performance. AGI allows you to analyze the performance of your shaders, helping you identify any that are overly complex or inefficient.

By reducing the complexity of your shaders, you can significantly improve the performance of your app. This can involve simplifying calculations, removing unnecessary operations, or optimizing the use of resources. AGI provides detailed information about the performance of each shader, helping you pinpoint the ones that need optimization.

Managing Texture and Memory Usage

Textures are images used in your application to create visual details. They can consume a significant amount of memory, impacting the performance of your app. AGI provides insights into your app's texture and memory usage, helping you manage these resources more effectively.

By optimizing your texture usage, you can reduce the memory footprint of your app, leading to improved performance. This can involve using smaller textures, compressing textures, or using textures more efficiently. Similarly, by managing your memory usage effectively, you can ensure that your app runs smoothly, even on devices with limited resources.

Analyzing and Reducing Pipeline Stalls

A pipeline stall is a situation where the GPU is waiting for something before it can continue processing. Stalls can severely impact the performance of your app. AGI provides a view of the GPU pipeline, helping you identify and analyze pipeline stalls.

By reducing pipeline stalls, you can ensure that your app runs more smoothly and provides a better user experience. This can involve optimizing your data transfer to the GPU, reducing dependencies between operations, or managing your resources more effectively.

Learn more in our detailed guide to GPU optimization (coming soon)