ARM Technologies has today announced two new Mali GPUs that are designed to power the graphics in the next generation of smartphones and tablet computers.
Leading on from last year's second-generation Mali-T600 GPUs, the industry leader in developing intellectual property (IP) for small, cheap, and power-efficient processors is unveiling the Mali-T760 and Mali-T720 GPUs.
Taking the high-performance Mali-T760 GPU first, it builds on the incumbent Mali-T628 and Mali-T678 by offering, for the first time, 16 processing cores - double that of the previous generation. Raw throughput is calculated at a potential 326 GFLOPs, which is about double that of the Mali-T628 and about the same as the Mali-T678 - the latter uses double the arithmetic units for increased GPGPU power.
ARM isn't quoting TDPs, but the Mali-T760 has been built with power-saving very much in mind, says ARM. On top of the Advanced Scalable Texture Compression (ASTC), Transaction Elimination (TE) and POP IP efficiencies present in the T62x GPUs, the Mali-T760 uses new ARM Frame Buffer Compression (AFBC) technology across the entire system-on-chip (SoC) to minimise the need to burn power by having to go through intermediate steps and to external memory. In conjunction with another technology called Smart Composition, ARM reckons the Mali-T760 is up to 400 per cent more energy efficient than the first-generation Mali-T604, evaluated on the same-node basis.
In the low-power world dominated by ARM-based technology, there's a constant struggle between increasing performance while keeping, or even reducing, the overall power budget. The Mali-T760 is very much representative of this fine balancing act. ARM goes on to say that increased integration between Mali GPUs and Cortex CPUs means this new graphics unit is ideally suited to be paired with the Cortex-A15/Cortex-A53/Cortex-A57 processors.
Switching gears to the mainstream/entry-level Mali-T720, it represents an update to the architecturally-similar Mali-T628. Designed to leverage burgeoning GPU Compute on Android, the key aspect here is that, compared to the previous generation, ARM says it's been able to reduce the required silicon area by 30 per cent and dynamic power by 15 per cent, with both characteristics being amongst the most important for smartphone and tablet manufacturers looking for low-cost SoC solutions.
Both new GPUs also feature decreased time-to-market implementation through better routing and more efficient tool chains. The frenetic pace of GPU development in particular means it's hugely important in getting final silicon into devices as quickly as possible - the gap between announcement and retail implementation is shrinking for everyone - and we can expect to see devices bearing either GPU by the end of 2014.
But the competition is hardly standing still. Mobile device manufacturers have the choice of a number of capable CPUs from Qualcomm, Nvidia, Imagination Technologies, et al. The Mali-T760 and Mali-T720 represent evolutionary steps of ARM's GPU architecture; we now wait to see what the others can come up with.