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ARM Shows Next Generation of Graphics Processors
ARM Shows Next Generation of Graphics Processors

By Barry Levine
August 6, 2012 2:02PM

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ARM's new GPU lineup, based on ARM's Midgard architecture, made its debut at the SIGGRAPH 2012 show taking place in Los Angeles. There are three graphics processors in the Mali series: the Mali-T624, -T628, and -T678. The T624 and T628 are optimized for smartphones and smart TVs, while the T678 is designed for tablets.

Another generation of ARM GPUs is out. On Monday, ARM announced its Mali-T600 Series of graphics processing units, which it said provide a "dramatically improved user experience" for tablets, smartphones and smart TVs.

Each of the GPUs offers a 50 percent performance increase over the previous generation, and they are the first ARM products to feature Adaptive Scalable Texture Compression (ASTC), an ARM-developed technique. The company said that ASTC optimizes GPU performance and increases battery life in devices.

Ending Fragmentation

ASTC supports a range of pixel formats and bit rates, so that a developer can use texture compression throughout an application and can choose the best format and bit rate for a given need.

One intention behind ASTC is to become an open standard so that developers will not need to choose between different codecs for texture compression on different platforms. ASTC's range of standards will, the company said, end the competition that has been producing fragmentation in graphic compression.

The new GPU lineup, based on ARM's Midgard architecture, made its debut at the SIGGRAPH 2012 show taking place in Los Angeles. There are three GPUs in this series -- the Mali-T624, -T628, and -T678. The T624 and T628 are optimized for smartphones and smart TVs, while the T678 is designed for tablets.

The company said it built on its experience with the ARM Cortex CPU processors in its development of GPU compute capabilities in the Mali series. GPU compute balances tasks between a CPU and GPU, creating more efficient performance.

Math-Intensive Activities

Because of this better performance, the company said, the chips can better support ongoing and new math-intensive activities, such as computational photography, which enhances digital photos, or multi-perspective views, which supports the ability to generate different views from different positions. Real-time photo editing on mobile devices is also supported.

Pete Hutton, general manager of ARM's Media Processing Division, said in a statement that GPU compute enables higher standards of visual computing on mobile devices and smart TVs because it "increases the range of functions mobile devices can perform within the available battery life."

The T-624 comes in one to four cores, and the T-628 in one to eight. ARM said that the T-628, which delivers the highest performance in the current lineup, offers a new level of capabilities for tablets, including augmented reality.

All of the new GPUs support OpenGL ES 1.1, OpenGL ES 2.0, OpenGL ES 3.0, DirectX 11 FL9_3, DirectX 11, OpenCL 1.1 Full Profile and Google Renderscript compute.

ARM said that products incorporating the new GPUs should begin hitting the shelves by September of next year. ARM is a major force in the world of mobile CPUs, but has had a much smaller profile for GPUs in mobile devices. ARM GPUs, however, are widely used in smart TVs and set-top boxes.

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