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ARM launches new Mali GPU designs

ARM launches new Mali GPU designs

ARM's new Midgard-class Mali graphics processors boast a 50 per cent performance improvement over their predecessors.

British chip design giant ARM has officially unveiled its second-generation Mali-T600 graphics processor design, boasting a 50 per cent performance boost and support for the adaptive scalable texture compression (ASTC) technology added to OpenGL ES 3.0 by the Khronos Group.

Built on the company's Midgard architecture, the second-generation GPU design has been launched in three different off-the-shelf configurations. The first two, the Mali-T624 and Mali-T628, are designed for use in smartphones and 'smart TV' sets, while the Mali-T678 offers improved performance for use in tablet devices.

As befits a tablet-centric part, the Mali-T678's performance figures are pretty impressive: compared to the Mali-T624 smartphone-oriented part, the Mali-T678 pushes four times the GPU compute performance. The two lower-end chips, meanwhile, will be available in one to four core implementations for the T624 and one to eight core implementations for the T628.

'People expect higher standards of visual computing on their smartphones, tablets and smart-TVs with seamless access to their digital world and personal content,' claimed Pete Hutton, ARM's general manager of media processing, of the new launch. 'GPU compute enables this as it increases the range of functions mobile devices can perform within the available battery life. ARM continues to focus on system-wide optimisation by integrating market leading CPU and GPU technologies to drive both high performance and energy-efficiency.'

The new Mali chips, the predecessors of which already power some of the most popular ARM-based products around including Samsung's Galaxy S II, offer product makers some impressive performance gains over the existing parts - and the addition of ASTC capabilities mean boosted image quality and extended battery life.

In other words, it's good news all round - except, potentially, for some of ARM's licensees. Nvidia, in particular, prides itself on the graphics capabilities of its Tegra chipset line. With ARM's Mali parts offering OEMs and ODMs a powerful alternative to Tegra, the company could risk losing its share of the tablet market to rival licensees like Samsung.

Thus far, no company has come forward to announce that its products will be the first to feature one of the new Mali Midgard parts.

12 Comments

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kosch 7th August 2012, 12:13 Quote
Always nice to see ARM launching new products.
BLC 7th August 2012, 12:18 Quote
Quote:
In other words, it's good news all round - except, potentially, for some of ARM's licensees. Nvidia, in particular, prides itself on the graphics capabilities of its Tegra chipset line. With ARM's Mali parts offering OEMs and ODMs a powerful alternative to Tegra, the company could risk losing its share of the tablet market to rival licensees like Samsung.

Nvidia have stolen a bit of a march on the mobile graphics front with Tegra, but on the other hand the article already points out the benefit of competitors: platform-independant applications.

Even though they don't actually produce any chips, ARM have been a massive success story - I'm not going to complain if they become even more successful on the back of this.
schmidtbag 7th August 2012, 15:50 Quote
If this really ends up being more powerful than Tegra 3, it makes me wonder if ARM could potentially reach into PCI-e graphics.
chrismarkham1982 7th August 2012, 19:27 Quote
Maybe a top end WP8 smart phone could benefit from one of these? Considerign the Xbox Live integration, it could make for some very good looking mobile games.
Aracos 8th August 2012, 04:26 Quote
On the negative side there really isn't a good time to buy a new mobile phone. Every year is seeing HUGE benefits, whether it be battery life or performance, maybe even a bit of both. With such huge leaps from generation to generation it makes buying something a hard justification, personally I'm skipping this year for the hope of Cortex A15's next year as well as these sweet GPUs!
schmidtbag 8th August 2012, 04:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aracos
On the negative side there really isn't a good time to buy a new mobile phone. Every year is seeing HUGE benefits, whether it be battery life or performance, maybe even a bit of both. With such huge leaps from generation to generation it makes buying something a hard justification, personally I'm skipping this year for the hope of Cortex A15's next year as well as these sweet GPUs!

I was thinking the exact same thing. Considering I'm not really rolling in money, I'm going to wait until ARM platforms stop getting multitudes more powerful than previous releases. Technology is never going to stop expanding, but I'd rather get a product when expansion is starting to slow down. For example, comparing Sandy Bridge to Ivy bridge.
[USRF]Obiwan 8th August 2012, 11:17 Quote
I wish you could simply exchange processors or GPU (or CPGPU) in a socket inside tablet/phone/etc
The updates in speed is to fast. You need to buy a phone and a tablet (or tv) every year just to get some speed. Imho this is a waste of money and resources.
BLC 8th August 2012, 12:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by [USRF]Obiwan
I wish you could simply exchange processors or GPU (or CPGPU) in a socket inside tablet/phone/etc
The updates in speed is to fast. You need to buy a phone and a tablet (or tv) every year just to get some speed. Imho this is a waste of money and resources.

Space.

Especially in mobile devices, there simply isn't the room to accomodate a socketed GPU. Plus you have SoC devices where the main application processor and the video processor/GPU are on the same die; this is extremely common on ARM implementations, as it reduces the signal pathways by many orders of magnitude (though that's probably not the only reason). You also have power considerations: newer generations tend to need more power, or at least have different power requirements, and you would need to replace or tweak the power circuitry every time you upgrade a chip.

It'd be a great solution, but the engineering required to achieve it makes my head hurt... Probably the very same reasons that PC GPU manufacturers haven't tried something similar (well...that and it gives them the chance to flog you a new product every 6-12 months!)
Gareth Halfacree 8th August 2012, 12:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by [USRF]Obiwan
I wish you could simply exchange processors or GPU (or CPGPU) in a socket inside tablet/phone/etc
There was a proposal a while back to create a system-on-SIM-card which would allow you to replace the SoC inside your phone as and when you wanted. Dunno what happened, mind - haven't heard anything about it for a *long* time.

More recently, there was Modu.
ssj12 8th August 2012, 21:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by schmidtbag
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aracos
On the negative side there really isn't a good time to buy a new mobile phone. Every year is seeing HUGE benefits, whether it be battery life or performance, maybe even a bit of both. With such huge leaps from generation to generation it makes buying something a hard justification, personally I'm skipping this year for the hope of Cortex A15's next year as well as these sweet GPUs!

I was thinking the exact same thing. Considering I'm not really rolling in money, I'm going to wait until ARM platforms stop getting multitudes more powerful than previous releases. Technology is never going to stop expanding, but I'd rather get a product when expansion is starting to slow down. For example, comparing Sandy Bridge to Ivy bridge.

why dont you just do like me and buy the latest and greatest at the time and wait till your contract is up to upgrade to the newest thing on the market? And live with there being better tech out there.
schmidtbag 8th August 2012, 21:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssj12
why dont you just do like me and buy the latest and greatest at the time and wait till your contract is up to upgrade to the newest thing on the market? And live with there being better tech out there.

If I had a smartphone then yea, I'd do that. But I was referring more toward tablets or ARM based PCs.
Aracos 8th August 2012, 23:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssj12
Quote:
Originally Posted by schmidtbag
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aracos
On the negative side there really isn't a good time to buy a new mobile phone. Every year is seeing HUGE benefits, whether it be battery life or performance, maybe even a bit of both. With such huge leaps from generation to generation it makes buying something a hard justification, personally I'm skipping this year for the hope of Cortex A15's next year as well as these sweet GPUs!

I was thinking the exact same thing. Considering I'm not really rolling in money, I'm going to wait until ARM platforms stop getting multitudes more powerful than previous releases. Technology is never going to stop expanding, but I'd rather get a product when expansion is starting to slow down. For example, comparing Sandy Bridge to Ivy bridge.

why dont you just do like me and buy the latest and greatest at the time and wait till your contract is up to upgrade to the newest thing on the market? And live with there being better tech out there.

Oh I'm fine with living with it, I got my Galaxy S2 in February and I'm absolutely in love with it, one of the best devices I've ever had, it is like a portable emulation device to me. My point is simply in regards to things like the Galaxy S3, yes it is much more powerful but it will be destroyed by next years phones. It is just one of those eternal "there is something right around the corner" things that plagued the PC for years but has settled down quite a bit now. Though I would be more inclined to wait for a couple of months after my contract finishes if something huge was coming out :-)
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