Electronics patent of the month: Identify rendering delays for displays

GB Patent no: 2461900Granted to: ARM Holdings

GB Patent no: 2461900
Granted to: ARM Holdings

The world is getting faster, and we are getting more impatient. We demand that everything around us keeps up with our expectations of speed and responsiveness, and we get irritated when technology is too slow and sluggish.

Technology companies constantly seek to tackle this issue and in GB patent no. 2461900 granted on 7 November 2012, the UK-based chip designer, ARM Holdings, addresses a situation whereby a delay occurs in a display of a device, but not the operations undertaken by the processor whose results are presented on the display.

ARM has designed a system for monitoring the performance of the processing of graphics when a display is to be rendered. The patent explains how graphics processing can be a computationally intensive task and if done poorly can lead to bottlenecks in the overall performance of a device.

Whilst application authors and device designers wish to eliminate such impediments to improve performance efficiency, it can be hard to identify which particular process is the site of the bottleneck. Graphics processing systems already include circuitry for monitoring performance, and ARM’s invention will greatly assist designers and authors of these systems with producing slicker devices and applications.

The invention works by dividing a frame into a number of areas and monitoring the rendering performance in each area of a frame. In so doing, it is possible to identify more easily areas of the frame that are more prone to rendering delays, which will assist the designer in identifying processes that are more likely to be the cause.

A key feature the invention addresses is ensuring that the graphics processing is not adversely affected by the monitoring process. ARM has taken care to design a system where the action of capturing and storing parameters, which are to be used in monitoring the rendering performance, does not itself interfere with, for example, the process of accessing memory which is undertaken in the circuitry used to render the display.

In addition, the invention uses one or more counters coupled to points within the graphics processing apparatus. These count events that are associated with the rendering of each area. In using this technique, the monitoring is performed with a low overhead whilst being capable of providing a wide range of useful parameters.

Michael Jaeger is a patent attorney at leading UK patent and trade mark attorneys,

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