Computex 2016: ARM muscles up with new Mali GPU and 10nm Cortex SoC plans

Chip designer expects new products to help push virtual reality powered by mobile devices.

ARM has announced the next iteration of its mobile processors due to appear in 2017.

arm-cortex-a73-chip-diagram.png
(Image: ARM)

Based on a 10 nanometre FinFET process, the Cortex-A73 system on a chip (SoC) can run up to 2.8Ghz and boasts a 30 percent jump in power efficiency, and what ARM calls "sustained performance", over its A72 predecessor.

"The Cortex-A73 is also the smallest premium ARMv8-A processor," the company said on its product page. "The Cortex-A73 delivers the highest single-thread performance in the smallest area footprint."

ARM has already signed up ten licensees for the chip, which is expected to find its way into in smartphones and tablets, including HiSilicon, Marvell, and Mediatek.

The company also announced today the Mali-G71 graphics processor unit (GPU), which is the first to be built using Bifrost architecture. Compared to the Mali-T880, the new GPU offers 20 percent better energy usage, a 40 percent increase in performance density, and can double the number of shader cores used in the T880, topping out at 32.

ARM Mali-G71 chip diagram
(Image: ARM)

"The uplift means the Mali-G71 surpasses the performance of many discrete GPUs found in today's mid-range laptops," the company boasted in its announcement.

Samsung, HiSilicon, and MediaTek are licensees for the GPU, which ARM said is optimised for the Vulkan graphics API -- the 1.0 specification of Vulkan was announced in February.

ARM said it expects the chips to push forward virtual reality and augmented reality usage.

"The smartphone is the world's most ubiquitous compute device, offering experiences that improve with each new product generation," said Pete Hutton, ARM executive vice president and president of product groups.

"This technology can make engaging with 4K video, virtual reality, and augmented reality an everyday experience on a mobile device."

Earlier this month, the English chip designer company acquired IoT and imaging specialist company Apical in an all-cash $350 million deal.

"Apical has led the way with new imaging technologies based on extensive research into human vision and visual processing," Michael Tusch, CEO and founder of Apical, said at the time.

"These technologies will advance as part of ARM, driving value for its partners as they push deeper into markets where visual computing will deliver a transformation in device capabilities and the way humans interact with machines."

Computex 2016 officially kicks off tomorrow.