ARM unwraps new graphics IP with 4K, H.265 support

Almost exactly a year has passed since ARM introduced its first GPU designs based on the third-generation Midgard architecture: the Mali-T720 and Mali-T760. Today, the company is back with another round of power-efficient GPUs: the Mali-T800 series. The latest lineup comprises three designs, whose performance and power efficiency ARM compares to that of the Mali-T600 series from 2012:

  • The Mali-T820 GPU is optimized for entry-level products, achieving up to 40 percent more performance density compared to the Mali-T622 GPU
  • The Mali-T830 GPU strikes the perfect balance of performance and efficiency, delivering up to 55 percent more performance than the Mali-T622 GPU
  • The Mali-T860 GPU is for the most demanding consumers who want a great visual experience on their mobile device, providing high performance and 45 percent more energy-efficiency compared to the Mali-T628 GPU

Source: ARM.

The Mali-T820 and Mali-T830 have four shader cores, down from eight on the Mali-T720, while the high-end Mali-T860 features 16 shader cores, the same number as on the Mali-T760. All three new GPUs support OpenGL ES 3.1 (up from 3.0 on the Mali-T700 series) as well as DirectX 11.1, OpenCL 1.2, and RenderScript Compute. ARM's frame-buffer compression mojo and Smart Composition are in the mix, as well.

Source: ARM.

Along with the Mali-T800-series GPUs, ARM has also announced the Mali-V550 video accelerator and Mali-DP550 display processor, both of which implement 10-bit YUV support in order to handle 4K content.

The Mali-V550 has eight cores, which it can use to encode and decode 4K video at 120 Hz. ARM says this is the first video encoder IP that can both encode and decode H.265 video (a.k.a. High Efficiency Video Coding, or HEVC) on a single core, too. The Mali-DP550 display processor, meanwhile, is designed to offload composition from the GPU in order to save power. It can composite up to seven layers, and it also supports 4K resolutions.

Since the Mali-T700 series is just starting to trickle out into the market, it should take another year for the newly unveiled Mali-T800 family to do the same. ARM says it expects "initial consumer devices" in late 2015 and early 2016. Remember, the company develops IP rather than actual silicon products, so it has to wait for third-party chipmakers to do the dirty work.

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