Today, the Media Processing team at ARM is delighted to announce the launch of five new products, the ARM® Mali™-T860, Mali-T830 and Mali-T820 graphics processors, the Mali-V550 video processor and the Mali-DP550 display processors.
We’ve discussed the opportunities emerging in the growing mainstream market previously in these blogs. With well over 1Bn consumers already, each of whom has different requirements in terms of price, performance and feature-set, our partners need a choice of semiconductor IP which enables them to address the diversity of demands within this high-volume segment. ARM has long understood the fact that one size and one feature set does not address the needs of every market segment or best serve the needs of partners who are all looking to quickly differentiate their products to gain a competitive advantage. With this in mind, we aim to deliver a scalable roadmap of core IP, bringing our partners choice as well as enabling them to accelerate their time to market and freeing their engineers to bring more innovation and diversity to this accelerating market.
At the same time as this diversification in device type is taking place, ARM and its partners are also seeing important trends in mobile content consumption that need to be taken into account when designing the next generation of semiconductor IP. Jakub Lamik, our Director of Product Marketing, discusses some of the important trends such as increased pixel density, increased screen resolutions and increasingly complex content in his blog last week and explains the inter-core technology which ARM offers that helps our partners deal with the increasing strain this content applies to mobile devices.
When you take both of these aspects into consideration, there are a range of challenges which our partners face in producing successful end devices. Central to all is the need to offer a range of price and performance points in an energy efficient fashion in order to enable the latest content across the entire breadth of the market.
Since the development of the first mobile phone, ARM has worked with our partners to develop technology that continually extends the capabilities of the mobile within its fixed power budget. Today we are launching five new products which address the diverse media needs of the mainstream market. The suite offers options for cost efficiency, performance efficiency and the ability to get to market faster, all combined with innate energy efficiencies provided by the ability to allocate tasks across the system to the most appropriate processor, be that CPU, GPU, video or display.
The Mali-T860 scales across sixteen cores to offer the best performance for the lowest energy consumption of any Midgard GPU. Building on the technical advances of our previous generations of GPUs, it offers a 45% improvement in energy efficiency compared to the Mali-T628 in the same configuration and process node. With micro-architectural enhancements such as quad prioritization and improved early Z test throughput, performance is improved across both casual and advanced gaming content. It is the perfect GPU for an end device targeted at the most demanding consumers who want a great visual experience at an affordable price point.
Because the key focus of the Mali-T860 is on performance efficiency, it delivers this extra performance within an impressively small energy budget by incorporating support for a range of bandwidth reducing technology including ARM Frame Buffer Compression, Smart Composition and Transaction Elimination. Native hardware support for 10-bit YUV has also been added to make this GPU an ideal accompaniment to the Mali-V550 video processor and Mali-DP550 display processor, so that users can experience the best visual quality when watching content in an increasingly 4K DTV and STB market. 10-bit YUV is available across the entire media suite released today, whether as native hardware support such as in the Mali-T860 or as a configuration option as in the Mali-T820.
For more information on the Mali-T860 GPU, visit its product page.
Entering the cost efficient roadmap are the Mali-T820 and Mali-T830. These two GPUs are an evolution of the Mali-T720, recently announced as the GPU in the MediaTek MT6735, and, having been developed alongside the Mali-T860, they have also inherited some important features from this performance efficient GPU which enable them to offer not only area and energy efficiencies compared to previous generations, but performance advancements as well, such as quad prioritization.
The Mali-T820 is optimized for entry-level products and achieves up to 40% higher performance density compared to the Mali-T622. Comparatively, the Mali-T830 balances area, performance and energy efficiency to deliver maximal performance from a minimal silicon area. It has an additional arithmetic pipeline compared to the Mali-T820 and offers up to 55% more performance than the Mali-T622 GPU in the same configuration and process node. It is ideal for bringing more advanced 3D gaming and arithmetically complex use cases to consumers of mainstream smartphones, tablets and DTVs.
Together, the Mali-T820 and Mali-T830 introduce ARM Frame Buffer Compression to the cost efficient roadmap for the first time. This will ensure that the system-wide bandwidth savings made possible by AFBC – up to 50% - will appear in the next couple of years in more affordable devices, enabling these to deliver high quality multimedia experiences to consumers for longer.
For more information on the Mali-T820 and Mali-T830 GPUs, visit their product pages.
The Mali-V550 is ARM’s next generation, low bandwidth, multi core, multi codec encode & decode video IP. It is the IP industry’s first single-core video encode and decode solution for HEVC; the combination of encode and decode functionality on a single core and its ability to maximize re-use across multiple codecs ensure that the Mali-V550 maintains its strong area efficiency leadership.
The Mali-V550 is a multi-core solution out of the box, scalable to 4K resolutions at 120fps or 1080p at 480fps with an 8-core configuration. The architecture supports multiple video streams across multiple cores as well as simultaneous encode and decode. For example you can parallel decode eighteen 720p30 decode streams with a Mali-V550 MP4, or any combination of encode or decode. These streams may use different coding standards and are time multiplexed on a frame basis.
Motion search elimination, introduced in Jakub’s blog last week, enables the video processor to avoid a large amount of processing related mainly to the motion search engine, but also sometimes entire reconstruction. The best motion search elimination benefits apply to WiFi scenarios, when encoding and sending static content (such as user interface or 2D games) to an external display. In such a situation, it is able to lower memory bandwidth by up to 35% as well as lower latency.
While system power, performance and silicon area are all critical for our SoC partners, this can not come at the expense of visual quality. The Mali-V550 is robust against external memory latency: video processing can continue for over 5000 cycles without external memory access and the Mali-V550 can hide more than 300 clock cycles of static latency from a slow memory system without dropping a frame. This means that consumers will benefit from smooth playback with no dropped frames when experiencing multimedia on a device with the Mali-V550 video processor. The Mali-V550 also maintains support for AFBC.
For more information on the Mali-V550 video processor, visit its product page.
The Mali-DP550 completes the suite of IP launched today and offers efficient media processing right to the glass.
One way of delivering system-wide energy efficiency is to enable each task to be executed on the most appropriate processor. We have talked about this a lot before in these blogs in the case of GPU Compute enabling applications such as computational photography. When a Mali-DP550 is deployed in a mobile media system, it too can offload basic tasks from the GPU or CPU such as user interface composition or scaling as well as rotation, post-processing and display control – and it does this all in a single pass so there is no need to go out to memory, extra bandwidth and power savings.
The principal additional feature of the Mali-DP550 is its co-processor interface which enables partners to easily integrate third party or proprietary display IP with the display processor. As the mainstream market diversifies and grows, delivering the right choice of application processors so that consumers can buy a device without compromise requires the ability to differentiate and deliver products quickly and simply. Display is regularly an important differentiating factor for our partners, and with this co-processor interface our partners can continue to use their proprietary display algorithms while benefiting from the advantages that licensing a highly functional core IP block can bring.
For more information on the Mali-DP550 display processor, visit its product page.
ARM offers each of the IP blocks above as separate licensable products, but the advantages come when you employ an entirely ARM-based system. ARM partners discover system-wide bandwidth efficiencies, reduced time to market and the ability to focus engineering on critical differentiation. Thanks to our bandwidth saving technologies, the availability of an integrated software stack and system-wide performance analysis tools such as DS-5 Streamline, employing an integrated ARM-based media system is simple and very effective. And importantly, partners can be reassured of the quality of the new products they license because of the proven verification and validation processes that ARM implements consistently across our entire IP range, from CPUs to display IP.
The ARM Mali media IP products are available for immediate licensing and initial consumer devices are expected to appear in late 2015 and early 2016.