ARM reveals Mali GPU for next-generation devices

The Mali-T658 processor has 10 times the graphical performance of the Mali-400 and four times the compute performance of the Mali-T604, prepping the chip for use in high-end phones, tablets and smart TVs
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

ARM has unveiled a Mali GPU that is 10 times more powerful than the Mali-series chip used inside many high-end smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy S II

ARM's Mali-T658 GPU is the successor to the Mali-400, found in the Samsung Galaxy S II. Photo credit: CNET UK

The Mali-T658, described by ARM on Thursday, is the successor to the Mali-400, which provides the Samsung Galaxy S II with its well-reviewed graphical capabilities and was recently licensed to LG.

The new chip can have up to eight cores and is compatible with the 64-bit ARMv8 architecture. It has 10 times the graphical performance of the Mali-400 and four times the graphical compute performance of the Mali-T604, ARM said. Graphical performance reflects the ability of the chip to passively display media, while graphical compute performance reflects the ability to use the GPU to calculate dynamic tasks in parallel, such as simulating a cloud of particles.

"The Mali-T658 delivers desktop-class performance, achieved by doubling the number of GPU cores, doubling the number of arithmetic pipelines within each core and improving the compiler and pipeline efficiency," ARM said on its website.

The Cambridge-based chip design company thinks the Mali-T658 is powerful enough to find its way into augmented reality, image-processing and computational photography systems. It expects it to go into mobile devices ranging from smartphones to tablets and smart TVs.

The chip supports APIs for many modern graphical display technologies, such as DirectX 11, Renderscript and OpenCL 1.1.

Consumer devices

Because ARM does not make chips itself, but creates designs and licenses them to other companies, the Mali-T658 will probably take around two years to appear in consumer devices. Fujitsu Semiconductor, LG Electronics, Nufront and Samsung are all listed as partners in ARM's launch announcement, suggesting they are initial licensees.

The new GPU builds on two other significant technologies from ARM: Big.Little processing, which lets a high-powered chip such as the Mali-T658 be paired with a less-powerful one; and the ARMv8 architecture, which preps the company's chips for use in servers by giving them a 64-bit capability.

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