ARM launches new Mali GPU designs
August 7, 2012 // 11:01 a.m.
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.