ARM announces new 4K-ready Mali chips

October 28, 2014 | 11:38

Tags: #4k #gpu #mali #smartphone #tablet #ultra-hd

Companies: #arm

Cambridge based low-power processing giant ARM has announced a trio of new Mali graphics processors with which it hopes to bring Ultra HD capabilities to tomorrow's mobile devices.

ARM's in-house Mali architecture is frequently chosen to drive chips from a variety of companies, if only for the simplicity that comes from getting both CPU and GPU designed from a single source. The new chips are designed to straddle the market: the Mali-T820 is for entry-level devices, the Mali-T830 for mid-range mass-market products and the Mali-T860 for top-end devices. Each can also be paired with the new Mali-V550 video accelerator and Mali-DP550 display processor when designing media-centric system-on-chip (SoC) layouts.

'As your mobile device is now your primary compute device, manufacturers have to regularly deliver better features and functionality while preserving battery life,' claimed Mark Dickinson, general manager of ARM's media processing group, at the launch. 'The ARM Mali media IP suite employs the right processor for the right task and utilises our latest energy-saving technologies across all the IP blocks. We are giving our SoC partners a set of media IP that simply works better together.'

The entry-level Mali-T820 with four shader cores is designed to replace the Mali-T622, and boasts a 40 per cent boost in energy efficiency for the same performance compared to its predecessor. The four-shader-core Mali-T830 builds on that with 55 per cent more performance than the Mali-T622. Finally, the 16-core Mali-T860 replaces the Mali-T628 with increased performance and claims of 45 per cent better energy efficiency. All models include OpenGL ES 3.1, OpenCL and RenderScript support, along with new features to the Mali family include lossless ARM Frame Buffer Compression (AFBC) and Smart Composition to reduce bandwidth requirements.

Each chip can be paired with the Mali-V550 co-processor in an SoC layout, providing encode and decode acceleration for the High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard. A single-core implementation of the V550, ARM claims, can record and playback 1080p video at 60 frames per second, while an eight-core implementation supports Ultra HD (4K) resolutions at 120 frames per second. The design includes multiple stream support for simultaneous encode and decode and Motion Search Elimination, which the company claims can save energy by dynamically adjusting motion search during encoding. Finally, the Mali-DP550 display processor is designed to boost battery life in devices using the new GPUs by offloading common tasks including composition, scaling, rotation and post-processing.

ARM has indicated that the new IP is available for immediate licensing, with the first consumer products expected to hit the market in late 2015 to early 2016. More details of the Mali-T820, Mali-T830, Mali-T860, Mali-V550 and Mali-DP550 designs are available on their respective product pages.
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