ARM unveils next-generation Mali mobile GPUs

ARM's new GPUs offer hardware makers up to eight cores of graphics performance, while developers get their hands on a new compression codec.

ARM's current flagship GPU, the quad-core Mali 450-MP found in the Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone, is set to be sidelined as ARM releases three new multi-core parts that will find their way into a range of mobile devices by this time next year.

The new GPUs are the Mali T624, T628 and T678. All three are built on ARM's Midgard graphics architecture. These new GPUs offer up to 50 percent performance increase over the first generation Midgard GPUs (T604 and T658). This performance increase is much needed as device screen resolutions continue to grow.

All also include support for a graphics compression codec called Adaptive Scalable Texture Compression (ASTC). Not only does ASTC optimizes GPU performance and increases battery life in devices by allowing developers to take advantage of texture compression in applications, it also allows developers to choose a single codec for all compression needs. ASTC is part of the Khronos open standard and ARM hopes that it will become the compression codec of choice for developers.

The Mali T624 scales from one to four cores, while the Mali T628 scales from one to eight cores; both of which are aimed at the smartphone and Smart TV market. The Mali T628 delivers up to ten-times the graphics performance of the Mali 400-MP GPU that was present in the Samsung Galaxy S II.

At the top end is the Mali T678, which scales from one to eight cores, offering four times the GPU performance of the Mali T624, and is aimed at the tablet market. The Mali T678 delivers a 50 percent performance improvement over the first-generation Mali T658.

The scalability of the core count means that hardware makers can choose the appropriate level of performance to fit into a price bracket. This makes ARM's GPU offerings incredibly flexible and suitable for a wide range of applications.

As with all other Midgard GPUs, the new GPUs support GPU compute with improves performance and energy-efficiency for math intensive activities, such as computational photography for enhancing photos, video stabilization, and real-time photo editing on smartphones and tablets.

"People expect higher standards of visual computing on their smartphones, tablets and smart-TVs with seamless access to their digital world and personal content," said Pete Hutton, ARM's general manager for media processing.

"GPU compute enables this as it increases the range of functions mobile devices can perform within the available battery life. ARM continues to focus on system-wide optimization by integrating market leading CPU and GPU technologies to drive both high performance and energy-efficiency."

Image credit: ARM.