Cast your minds back to November 2017, when we launched the Arm Mali-D71 DPU, a premium display processor which was built on the brand new (at the time) Komeda architecture. This was designed for a range of complex display use cases on next generation devices, such as virtual reality (VR), high dynamic range (HDR) and multi-window display.
Today, we’re announcing a new display processor intrinsically linked to Mali-D71 – the Mali-D37 DPU. The display processor, a mainstream to entry-level DPU based on the Komeda architecture, keeps some of the Mali-D71’s core display and performance features, all within the smallest area possible. This is the first time that an Arm Mali DPU has targeted entry-level mobile markets. Whereas Mali-D71 targets premium mobile and DTVs and the innovative Mali-D77 DPU focuses on VR headsets, Mali-D37 is designed for the devices where area matters most. These range from mainstream and entry-level smartphones and tablets to small screens such as those in cars and airplanes and the latest smart speakers and home appliances (even these have small display screens). For the end user, this will mean better visuals and performance on these lower cost devices and small screens.
DPU for Entry-Level and Mainstream Devices
Unashamedly, area is king for Mali-D37. For our partners, every mm square counts. We have listened to their demands of “how low can you go” and responded with a DPU that is incredibly area efficient, while still preserving a rich feature set.
To illustrate the extreme area efficiency, Mali-D37 is smaller than 1mm2 on 16nm technology. For comparison, this is approximately 36 percent the size of the premium Mali-D71 DPU. Mali-D37 can support up to 2K resolutions i.e. 2048 pixel wide at the scanning direction. In most mobile devices, the pixels are scanned out to the panel in the portrait direction, with the landscape side having an even wider resolution. For example, QHD+ resolution (1440x2880) on a smartphone can be supported by Mali-D37. Mali-D37 delivery also contains a further optimized configuration for 1080p resolution devices, which will help our partners to optimize the internal line buffers and reduce the area even further.
The premium Mali-D71 utilizes dual pipeline Komeda architecture and can drive dual displays, supporting up to 4K resolutions with a maximum of 8 composition layers (8 layers while driving single display, 4 layers each when driving dual displays). Mali-D37 is the area optimised Komeda architecture for mainstream and entry-level devices running a single pipeline with 4 composition layers.
Smallest Area DPU
Despite being designed for mainstream and entry-level devices, Mali-D37 preserves some core features that make Mali-D71 such an innovative DPU. When combined with Assertive Display 5 and with the help of some key image processing features. Mali-D37 offers a HDR experience, even on SDR displays, through supporting HDR10 and HLG, as well as Mixed HDR-SDR composition. This is achieved through performing necessary format conversions, composition and alpha-blending of mixed HDR and SDR layers simultaneously, resulting in a number of different display options, such as full screen HDR video, full screen HDR video with SDR UI/controls, HDR video picture-in-picture (PiP) with SDR background, or HDR video PiP with SDR UI and SDR background layer. The combination with Assertive Display 5 also delivers best-in-class sunlight visibility due to the product’s local tone mapping engine.
In addition, Mali-D37 maintains the same memory management benefits of Mali-D71 due to the MMU-600 and AFBC 1.2 support. The direct interface between the DPU and MMU-600 optimizes memory management providing memory latency and bandwidth benefits. It also contains a TLB prefetch to support efficient memory management for all pixel formats and rotations.
Rich Feature Set
As with any DPU, Mali-D37’s role is to perform core display tasks, such as composition, scaling and rotation in dedicated hardware blocks, offloading these functions from the GPU and, as a result, saving system power. The removal of these complex display tasks from the GPU means significant power and resource goes back to the GPU, so it can spend time doing what it does best – rendering the graphics on devices to provide better and more consistent visuals. Depending on the use-case of performing scaling, composition and rotation operations, Mali-D37 can save up to 30 percent system power compared to running the same operations on the GPU.
The additional features of Assertive Display 5 and memory management also contribute towards the system power savings. The AFBC encoder unity saves memory bandwidth and system power through solving the rotation of uncompressed layers. Assertive Display offers display backlight power savings by preserving the visibility even at reduced backlight. Finally, the native command mode support of the Mali-D37 enables panels to self-refresh for static scenes, leading to significant power savings on the panel.
Mali-D37: Summary of Features
What we have been able to achieve with Mali-D37 is develop a product that provides a rich feature set within the smallest area possible, giving the best PPA (power performance area) possible. This brings elements of our premium DPU technology to mainstream and entry-level devices where area is key for our partners. The awesome combination of improved performance and small area makes Mali-D37 the perfect accomplice for display technologies in the mainstream and entry-level device markets.
Read the Arm.com newsroom blog about the mainstream launch.
Learn more about Mali-D37