So you want to self-test your game, and collect some basic performance data. You're going to use Intel GPA to analyze your game on Windows, but you're not quite sure how to get started. Here are some simple steps to get you running quickly. (These directions are required for companies in Intel's self-test program, but a good idea for all developers.)
You'll be collecting some real-time data as you play your game (watching and then capturing it with the GPA System Analyzer), and you'll then capture one or more game frames to study more deepy with GPA Frame Analyzer. This will give you data files you can analyze or share with somebody else if you wish to review your performance with them.
Pick some part of your game that represents typical gameplay. Be ready to play it while you capture data. If you have very different parts of gameplay, plan to study each. You'll want to profile every aspect of your game (loading screens, menus, etc.) eventually, but the single most important part is typical gameplay, so start there.
Configure your game as you prefer for performance testing. We recommend (and require for the self-test program) you use 1366x768 resolution or better, at Medium quality or better. Your game should also detect the graphics hardware and configure itself correctly "out of the box", so your players don't need to make any config changes. See the GPU Detect sample to see how to do this. That sample also includes the latest list of Intel device IDs.
Make sure your machines have the latest software; at the very least check for updates to GPA and your graphics driver, since those may influence your results.
A special note. At the moment, you won't be able to use GPA if this is an OpenGL game - GPA doesn't support OpenGL on Windows. Are you an OpenGL developer? Head to the GPA Forum and let us know what you think.
GPA also can't collect frame captures for Windows Store games or games running DirectX 8 or older.
For full details on what works and doesn't, visit the GPA release notes.
Install GPA on your test system (sometimes called the test target), and also on another system (the analysis platform). You may find it convenient to have the installation create desktop icons for you. The configuration of the analysis system doesn't matter much, but it needs to be running Windows 7 or Windows 8.
Launch and connect
Start the GPA Monitor on both systems. You'll see it in the taskbar.
On the test system, hover your mouse over the GPA Monitor icon, and you'll see the IP address of that system. Make a note of this address; you'll be using it soon. At this point, you don't need anything else running on the test system.
On the analysis system, click on the GPA Monitor, and pick "System Analyzer". System Analyzer will start up, and ask where to connect. The first time you use it, it'll say <This Machine>.
Clear that text, enter the IP address of your test system, and click Connect. After System Analyzer connects, you'll see a summary of the different ways you might study what's happening on your test target system. If you have any trouble connecting to the target system, check your network configuration.
NOTE: If you can't connect from the analysis system, please don't simply run System Analyzer on the test machine to collect your data. It has a feature-rich GUI which can slow down your game if it's running on the same system. If you must run on a single system, the GPA System Analyzer Heads Up Display (HUD) has much of the same functionality.
In the System Profiling category, you'll see System View. That's not quite the view you want for studying your game, since it shows only the generic summary of everything running on your system. To study your game directly, you'll need to pick something else.
Now, start your game on the test system. When you look at System Analyzer, you'll see a new category for User Applications, along with your game. It doesn't matter exactly what you're doing in your game yet, it just needs to be running.
In this case, we're running the sample game CityRacer. You should see your game show up in the User Applications, like CityRacer does here.
If your game doesn't appear in the list, click on the GPA Monitor icon on the test target system, choose Preferences, enable Auto-detect launched applications, then close and start your game again. The GPA Monitor will now display a green dot. If your game still isn't listed in System Analyzer, go to the GPA Forum to discuss. Because there's a small overhead for auto-detection, this feature will reset each time you start GPA Monitor. If it's required for your game, you'll need to turn it on every time you start the GPA Monitor.
Collect data and study
Now that your game is running, click on its name to get ready to study it in real time.
At the top of the window, System Analyzer shows you which executable it's monitoring. If it says "Monitoring System View", go back and try the above steps again.
You'll see a long list of metrics on the left, some strip charts on the right, and some State Overrides you can use to study the behavior of your game. At the top, there are several command buttons and some summary stats. The command buttons should all be enabled (except for "next frame"). If they aren't, check the steps above to make sure you've connected to your game, and check that your game uses one of GPA's supported versions of DirectX.
Now, set up the metrics you want to watch in real time. Find a metric on the left, and drag it into one of the charts on the right. You can view more metrics by dragging a new metric in between the others, or you can display multiple metrics in one chart with <ctrl>-Click.
To start, show these metrics:
- Target App CPU Load (in the CPU section) - your game's CPU use
- FPS (in the DirectX section) - the game's instantaneous frame rate, as well as averages over time
- GPU Busy (in the GPU section) - how heavily your game is using the GPU
- GPU Frequency (in the GPU section) - shows whether the GPU is running at its maximum frequency or is throttled back