Epic Games: Fragmentation and RAM management Android is a big challenge

In a blog post, Epic Games outlines the challenges it had to overcome to make a working Android port of Fortnite. Working memory management and tailoring the game to the many different Android devices in particular are a challenge.

They publish the report following the achievement of 15 million installs on Android in three weeks. They say that different Android devices make different amounts of RAM available, without a clear logic behind it. On a Samsung Galaxy S8, Fortnite was able to use up to 3GB of the 4GB ram before the system killed the process. With a Pixel 2, that was 1.8GB of the 3.6GB. In addition, the team denounces applications that ignore Android’s garbage collection and regularly restart of their own accord. “Situations like that cost cpu time and do not provide extra free working memory.”

In addition to memory management, fragmentation is a major challenge for developers. Android versions, CPUs, GPUs, driver versions, power management profiles, and schedulers can vary widely from device to device, so smartphone models require different approaches and may exhibit unique bugs. To address this, Fortnite maps out these variables and chooses one of 4 graphics presets that should work best. In addition, it chooses a specific gpu profile and a device profile. Despite the snags of Android compatibility, in the future Epic also wants to give users the option to choose image quality over performance or vice versa.

The American game developer also says that engineers from Google, among others, have visited the studio to assist with the optimization process. That is somewhat striking, since Epic Games deliberately does not offer Fortnite in the Google Play Store so that it does not have to hand over a share of the proceeds to Google. Samsung, ARM, Qualcomm and Hisilicon also contributed.

While Epic Games admits it’s going through a long, difficult process with the Android release of FNBR, it is optimistic about the game’s future performance. The game runs great on today’s best phones. Every year the high-end smartphones are 50 percent faster than the year before, so just imagine what Fortnite will look like on next year’s phones.”