ARM unveils next-gen multi-core GPU

Written by James Gorbold

November 10, 2011 // 11:41 a.m.

Tags: #arm #mali-t658 #migard #mobile-gaming

There would appear to be nothing stopping ARM right now, as the company has just announced a new GPU, which has been designed to complement its recently announced next-gen big.LITTLE CPU.

ARM claims that the new GPU, known as the Mali-T658, provides up to 10x the graphics performance of its predecessor the Mali-400 MP, and 4x the GPGPU performance of its earlier Mali T-604 GPU.

ARM backed up these claims by explaining how the scalable Mali-T658 architecture can have up to eight cores, making it the first multi-core ARM GPU. Each core has its own set of shader cores, much like a desktop GPU.

The similarities don't end there either, as the Mali-T658 has been designed to be equally competent at rendering games as it is at handling GPGPU applications. To this end the Mali-T658 includes support for key APIs, such as DirectX 11 and OpenGL ES for games, and OpenCL and DirectCompute for GPGPU applications.

However, unlike desktop PCs, which suffer from multiple companies providing competing technologies, because ARM designs both CPUs and GPUs, the Mali-T658 shouldn't ever fight with the CPU with which it's partnered. In fact, ARM has specifically designed the Mali-T658 to work alongside the forthcoming big.LITTLE CPU, even to the extent of sharing data stored in the Level 2 cache.

ARM expects the first notable GPGPU applications for mobile devices such as superphones and tablets to be in the image processing space, but it's also hopeful that augmented reality (think Minority Report) and speech recognition could also become more important over time.

While we're on the topic of time, it's important to note that ARM doesn't expect superphones and tablets with Mali-T658 GPUs to appear for quite a while; 2014 is currently the company's best guess.

Are you excited about the prospect of better looking games and faster processing on mobile devices over the coming years? Let us know your thoughts in the forum.

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