Jun 30 2011
ARM recently had an update announcement on their Mali GPU. The RTL level core has now been licensed by 46 parties, of which 6 have released products and are royalty paying partners. This new core is the engine in the Samsung Galaxy S2 phone.
The goal of the Mali program is to be able to deliver high performance graphics capabilities, at higher resolutions but with the same power budget. The shifting application space is requiring the same user experience for phones, tablets, netbooks/laptops, standard display monitors and large screen. This range includes small sub 3″ displays at VGA through 60hz 4K2K displays. The performance of the displays has to compensate for the changes in memory bandwidth and the driver power for these external memories. The GPU block is designed to be optimized for the ARM CPUs and minimize external memory calls which consume more power. (Fig 1)
The multi-core design is set for large data and scaling with a DX7 style API and providing performance at levels that are DirectX11 compatible for desktops (5Gpixel/sec or 250GFLOPS) and Open GL ES2.0 for mobile (1.5Gpixel/sec or 25GFLOPS). In addition to these increasing data rates, to maintain image quality, there is more processing per pixel. The same processing core must also handle use UI’s such as touch, gesture, multi-touch, 3D and other technologies that are both engaging and also provide a simplifying user experience.
The Mali-T604 uses the “Midgard” GPU architecture. (Figure 2). The core is scalable up to 4 cores, and supports the full profile of OpenCL, OpenGL ES and Open VG as well as Microsoft DirectX up to V11. The key for the GPU line (which is Android OS optimized) is to be brought to market after the 2006 acquisition of Falanx, as the graphics portion of the devices becomes more dominant. The products are entering late into the market, and hoping to catch up on the coattails of their processor core dominance. The core is directly in the marketplace competing against entrenched products form Nvidia, Imagination Technologies, Intel, Qualcomm, Marvell and others.