Tools and advanced features


Debugging with validation layer

Vulkan is designed for high performance and low driver overhead. To achieve this, it includes only very limited error checking and debugging capabilities by default. If you do something wrong, the driver will often crash instead of returning an error code, or even worse, it will appear to work on your graphics card but completely fail on others.

To enable extensive checks during your development, Vulkan provides validation layers, which are pieces of code that can be inserted between the API and the graphics driver to do things like running extra checks on function parameters and tracking memory management problems. You can enable validation layers during development and completely disable them when releasing your application with zero overhead.

Validation layers can be written by anyone, but Khronos provides a single standard set called VK_LAYER_KHRONOS_validation. Check out Vulkan validation layers on Android from the Android NDK page to enable the validation layer in your application.


RenderDoc is another powerful open source tool that lets you capture a frame for inspection and analysis. It is a very powerful tool that has been used by graphics programmers to debug their rendered scenes. It supports Vulkan on Android well although your application has to be set as debuggable for it to work.

For information on how to set up and use it on your Android application, check out How do I use RenderDoc on Android.

Capture / Replay Libraries


GFXReconstruct is an open source project that provides tools to capture and replay graphics API calls executed by an application. The recorded trace can later be replayed to reconstruct the graphics-specific behavior of the captured application. One of the main advantages of GFXReconstruct is that it lets you use it on your released application (when you have turned off android:debuggable).

For more information, visit the project repository. Setting up and usage information for Vulkan on Android is available in GFXReconstruct API Capture and Replay for Android.

Note that the trace files are not portable, meaning that you cannot capture the file on one device and replay it on another device (with different OS version, chipsets, or even driver version).


Android GPU Inspector (AGI)

Android GPU Inspector (AGI) is a graphics profiler built for Android that includes a System Profile and a Frame Profiler. It provides high-level profiling information that allows you to understand your game's performance profile and identify bottlenecks.

To download AGI and learn how to use it, check out the Android GPU Inspector website.

Android Studio Profiler

Android Studio Profiler is a useful tool for profiling your app performance. However, it is not specifically geared towards graphics profiling. It consists of CPU Profiler, Memory Profiler, Network Profiler, Energy Profiler, Power Profiler and Event Monitor.

For more information on how to set up and use Android Studio Profiler, check out Profile your app performance section.

OEM Profilers

The tools in this section are OEM specific and may not work on devices running on other chips.

ARM Performance Studio for Mobile

Arm Performance Studio for Mobile is the new name for Arm Mobile Studio. It is a suite of tools that includes Graphics Analyzer and Frame Advisor to help you identify and fix performance problems on ARM GPUs.

For more information, check out Arm Performance Studio for Mobile website.

ARM PerfDoc for Mali GPUs

PerfDoc is a Vulkan layer developed to validate applications against ARM’s Mali GPU best practices. It has since been merged into VK_LAYER_KHRONOS_validation and is essentially part of the standard Vulkan validation layers.

For information on how to use it, check out Debugging with validation layer section.

Qualcomm Snapdragon Profiler

Qualcomm Snapdragon Profiler is a profiling software developed by Qualcomm for application developers to analyze CPU, GPU, DSP, memory, power, thermal and network performance to identify bottlenecks on their chipsets.

For more information, check out Snapdragon Profiler on Qualcomm Developer Network.

Samsung GPUWatch

Samsung's GPUWatch is a tool for observing GPU activity on Samsung devices. Unlike the other tools, you can use this tool directly from your mobile device, so it is very handy to check your application performance immediately even when you do not have access to another host computer.

For more information on how to enable it, check out the User Guide.


Imagination Technologies' PVRTune enables developers to profile applications on PowerVR hardware in real-time with a wide array of counters and metrics. It also allows the session to be saved for further low-level analysis and to detect performance bottlenecks.

For more information on how to use PVRTune, check out the Manual.

Migration Tools

Converting shaders from GLSL to SPIR-V

The Vulkan API expects shader programs to be provided in the SPIR-V binary intermediate format. This convention is different from OpenGL ES, where you could submit source code written in the OpenGL Shading Language (GLSL) as text strings.

NDK r12 and later includes a runtime library for compiling GLSL shaders into SPIR-V which can be used by Vulkan. The shaderc compiler can be used to compile shader programs written in GLSL into SPIR-V. If your game uses HLSL, the DirectXShaderCompiler supports SPIR-V output.

Typically, you will need to compile shader programs offline as part of the asset build process for your game and include the SPIR-V modules as part of your runtime assets.

For more information on the shader compilation process for your Vulkan application, check out Vulkan shader compilers on Android in the Android NDK section.

Advanced Features

Integrate Android Frame Pacing into your Vulkan renderer

Android Frame Pacing library (also known as Swappy) helps Vulkan games achieve smooth rendering and correct pacing to keep the game rendering loop in sync with the OS's display subsystem and the underlying display hardware.

Correct pacing eliminates visual artifacts known as tearing, optimize power consumption through synchronization between display refreshes and frame presentation, and also eliminate janks by stabilizing frame rate. To learn more about the importance of frame pacing, check out the Frame Pacing Library section of the AGDK.

For more information on how to integrate frame pacing into your game, check out Integrate Android Frame Pacing into your Vulkan renderer.

Handle device orientation with Vulkan pre-rotation

Surface rotation handling outside of the application may not be free. Even on some higher end devices with dedicated Display Processing Unit (DPU), there will still likely be a measurable performance penalty to pay and the impact will depend whether your application is CPU bound or GPU bound.

Vulkan provides developers with the power to specify much more information to devices about the rendering state compared to OpenGL. One such information is device orientation and its relationship to render surface orientation. This capability lets you implement pre-rotation to get the most out of Vulkan on Android.

For more information on how to efficiently handle device rotation on your Vulkan application, check out Handle device orientation with Vulkan pre-rotation and the accompanying demo application.

Optimize with reduced precision

The numerical format of graphics data and shader calculations can have a significant impact on the performance of your game. The majority of calculations and data in modern 3D graphics are using floating point numbers. Vulkan on Android uses floating point numbers that are 32 or 16 bits in size. A 32-bit floating point number is commonly referred to as single precision or full precision. Although 64-bit floating point type is defined in Vulkan, it is not commonly supported and its use is not recommended.

Check out Optimize with reduced precision for information on how to optimize your Vulkan application for best performance on your arithmetics.