Last week I went to SIGGRAPH 2013 in Anaheim, California, along with about 20 of my ARM colleagues. Dave Shreiner described the show in his blog (he's been paying lots of attention to it - he's conference chair for the 2014 show in Vancouver, British Columbia). However, I'd like to take a minute to set down a few of my observations on our time there.
Mainly I was there to attend the technical talks, followed by attending the board meeting of the HSA Foundation, but I also occupied my time with some press and analyst briefings. On Monday, we made a press release announcing Entropic's switch to ARM® Mali™ GPUs for Set-Top Box SoCs. On Tuesday, we had another release announcing Samsung's switch back to Mali GPUs for their Exynos 5 Octa SoC for tablets and phones. On Wednesday, ARM announced our Q2 results showing that we licensed Mali GPUs 7 times in the quarter taking us to 10 licenses for the half-year (over 80 in total). Also, in the same half-year, our licensees shipped more volume of Mali-powered SOCs than in all of 2012, so we're ramping the volume at more than 2x per year; also on Wednesday, Google announced their support for OpenGL® ES 3.0 in Android™. As you can imagine, there was a flurry of interest in all these events and after that barrage of good news, the analyst interviews were pretty easy: they have seen and agreed with our message (we're #1 in DTV/STB; we're #1 in Android tablets; we're ramping fast in mobile) and they have understood our technical vision for the future.
The ARM team set up a fantastic stand. We had a great range of Mali-powered consumer devices for people to play with, and we demonstrated a huge variety of technologies. We showed Trollheim - a demo that procedurally generates the entire textured terrain using OpenCL™ Full Profile. We also showed off the great GPU Compute capabilities of the Mali-T600 family including image processing using Renderscript and OpenCL-accelerated HEVC video decode. Unity's Chase OpenGL ES 3.0 demos on devices running the new version of Android rounded out an amazing collection of eye candy.
Samsung shared our stand, demonstrating their new Exynos 5 Octa SoC that contains a Mali-T628 MP6 - see the Engadget article and comparison video to get a feeling of the performance uplift (and energy efficiency increase) from previous devices. Trina Watt wrote a blog discussing the new applications that this product and GPU Compute will enable. Samsung couldn't stop dropping hints about which consumer devices we'll be seeing the chip feature in - sorry, I took an oath of secrecy, so I can't repeat them. Geomerics joined us in our booth demonstrating their advanced global illumination engine, Enlighten™. On the other side of the pod, PlayJam, as usual, gathered a huge crowd while demonstrating their new USB sized Mali-powered games console. The tools team showed off ARM's new Mali Graphics Debugger which allows developers to investigate where the GPU is spending its time and suggests areas for optimization. In addition, first-class games demos, benchmarks and user interfaces provided by various partners (Unity, Epic, Havok, Gameloft, Guild Software, EA, and Kishonti) were shown on the OpenGL ES 2.0 pod. It's fun to see the expressions of attendees when they see that the product running on the table in front of them is showing perhaps the highest GLBenchmark 2.7 (Gfxbench) score of any mobile device today...
In the conference proper, there was the usual jaw-dropping selection of papers from the special-effects industry and new rendering techniques being presented by universities and other research institutions, but for me the best part was the SIGGRAPH Mobile track. SIGGRAPH is the academic and industry conference for computer graphics and interactive techniques, but I feel they have been a little slow to understand the importance of the mobile industry. For many developers, the ready availability of high-performance graphics processing on high-resolution, portable screens comes as something of a surprise, having been used to hot, noisy PCs. There was a good panel discussion featuring Dave Shreiner of ARM, and representatives from Qualcomm, Nvidia, Intel, and Imagination Technologies, talking about the future of mobile graphics. That was followed by a string of technical talks, showing what can be achieved on today's mobile platforms. My favourite (naturally) was the joint paper from ARM and Sam Martin of Geomerics, discussing how to use Mali's Raw Tile readback feature to obtain the best performance on platforms that have lower available memory bandwidths than on the PC/console-type platforms.
Closing off the event for me, before going off the next day to the HSAF was the Khronos OpenGL ES BOF (Birds of a Feather) session, which as well as talking about the uptake of OpenGL ES 3.0 on new devices and OS platforms, raised a toast to 10 years since the announcement of the OpenGL ES API, followed by a party to celebrate!
It was a great event for me and for ARM, and I thoroughly enjoyed it - we're really getting our message out there now, and lots of developers at the show were telling us about the cool applications they are producing for Mali GPUs. As part of the team that's been involved in this since ARM's very first steps into graphics, I was really proud of the things we have achieved and the great people behind them.
Did you go to the show? What were your impressions?