As the days get shorter and the cold weather begins to creep in, we know it’s that time of year when we can start to get excited about the brand new devices for the upcoming year. A major announcement for us in the ARM® Mali™ Multimedia team is the brand new Huawei Mate 9 smartphone, based on the Kirin 960 chipset. Featuring a dual 20MP / 12MP Leica camera set up, 4K video capture and 64GB expandable storage, this is of course great news for both consumers and the smartphone market as a whole. Not only that, but it’s also especially exciting for us as one of the first devices to feature both the premium ARM processers launched earlier this year at Computex, the Cortex®-A73 and Mali-G71.
The Mali-G71 GPU was the first graphics processor based on our new Bifrost graphics architecture and was designed to support high end use cases like immersive VR gaming, as well as brand new graphics APIs like Khronos’s Vulkan. Superior energy efficiency can be achieved through the smart combination of multiple ARM technologies, so as well as the Mali-G71, the Kirin 960 uses ARM big.LITTLE™ technology in an octa-core configuration. It features four high performance 'big' ARM Cortex-A73 cores and four high efficiency 'LITTLE' ARM Cortex-A53 cores. According to xda-developers, the Huawei Mate 9 outperforms its predecessor by around 10% and 18% in single-thread and multi-core performance respectively. Combined with other advantages of big.LITTLE – longer periods of sustained peak performance and a richer user experience – and Mali-G71, the Kirin 960 chipset in the Huawei Mate 9 will push the boundaries of mobile compute for use cases such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, delivering a leading premium mobile experience.
Speed was of the essence in terms of handset performance, with Huawei boasting a clever Machine Learning algorithm that learns your habits as a user and prioritizes application performance accordingly. This allows the power to go where you need it most, ensuring the smoothest performance whilst protecting your privacy by running it directly on the handset rather than bouncing it to the cloud.
This device hits the market just eight months after the Mali-G71 IP was first made available to HiSilicon’s Kirin team of engineers and represents an incredibly fast time to market, especially for a device capable of handling such complex content. With the inherent compatibility between the products, not to mention the ability to exploit the Mali-G71’s full coherency between CPU and GPU, it’s great to see that Mali-G71 is allowing our partners to speed up their time to market and deliver the newest devices to the consumer, faster than previous generations.
The decision to design Mali-G71 with Vulkan in mind seems to have provided additional benefits too. Huawei showcased side by side screenshots of Vulkan demo “The Machines” from Directive Games, claiming between 40% and a massive 400% more efficiency compared to the previous API, OpenGL ES! Our own comparisons also showed a massive power saving on Vulkan compared to Open GL ES, watch the video to see just how beneficial a new, dedicated API can be.
Talking about their decision to make the Vulkan demo for Mali-G71, Atli Már Sveinsson CEO and co-founder of Directive Games explained: ‘With the high-speed growth of VR and AR on mobile devices we knew we needed a GPU with enough performance to deliver a really high quality user experience and the Mali-G71 gave us all the power we needed while still reducing energy consumption.’
With bigger and better products appearing faster and cheaper we’re still seeing huge leaps forward in the smartphone industry. With demanding new use cases emerging every day the journey is far from over and there’s still much to be done, so watch this space to see what other exciting advancements Huawei and ARM can deliver for premium smartphones!
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