While the PC and console markets focus on variable refresh rates and AI tools like Nvidia DLSS to get the most out of their hardware, mobile gaming is taking steps to adopt another performance-boosting technology. In a press release issued by Qualcomm Technologies, who obviously build the chips powering most of the mobile markets smartphones and tablets, the company spoke of how Variable Rate Shading could catapult mobile gaming to new visual heights without sacrificing raw performance.
Currently developed under Qualcomm's Elite Gaming technology banner, Variable Rate Shading is being shopped to mobile game developers as a way to speed up development time. But its benefits should have noticeable benefits to the end-user as well. VRS is a method that's been used on Nvidia and Intel hardware for a little while now, but Qualcomm is putting it to work in their newest chipsets, too.
On a basic level, Variable Rate Shading (or VRS for short) leads to what is commonly considered "free" performance boosts by dynamically allocating rendering resources to specific areas of an individual frame. A frame can be rendered with an imperceivable loss of visual detail but at a much lower resource cost, with any excess then essentially being free to render more frames, increasing that all-important frame rate.
It's a complicated game development speak that doesn't need to be understood to be appreciated. What it means for players is that gorgeous games can be rendered much more easily on capable chips, allowing for better graphics or increased performance for a fraction of their usual resource cost. In a gaming scenario, this could lead to better-looking games, smoother gameplay, and longer battery life as the chip doesn't need to work so hard to achieve the same result as without VRS enabled.
Qualcomm states that Diablo Immortal and Marvel: Super War developer Netease successfully utilized VRS on compatible smartphones to get a 38% FPS improvement in Revelation Mobile--the first game to use the new technology.
It isn't clear when VRS will becoming a prominent part of the mobile game development pipeline, but its benefits are clear to see. Improving the performance of a chip isn't just about slipping more transistors onto the die. By learning how to optimize what's already available through methods like VRS, gamers can look forward to getting more from their devices.