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ARM launches 8-way Mali graphics core

Posted: 14 Nov 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:graphics processor  Mali  ARM Cortex  8 shader cores 

However, ARM also claims that Mali in all its versions, with 57 licences and 29 SoCs designed, is now the most widely licensed GPU architecture.

Mali, little-big working together
ARM emphasizes that with the Mali-T658 SoC designers are able to make use of a carefully crafted system-level approach to multi-core design. That approach includes ARM Cortex processor cores, the little-big power efficiency technology and cache-coherent interconnect.

ARM's "big-little" strategy
Read about ARM's "big-little" core combo here.

As a result designers are expected to target high-end smartphones on 28nm silicon with quad-core Mali-T658 coming to market in 2013 and eight-cored Mali-T658 graphics units to be 20nm silicon in 2015. The core is also expected to find application in tablet computers, smart-TVs and automotive infotainment systems.

Mali-T658 will be able to take on computation tasks in applications such as image processing or augmented reality. The core has been made compatible with the recently announced A7-A15 little-big coupling so that as computation is moved on to the T658 it may accompany the movement of the core program down from the A15 to the A7, said Jem Davies, vice president of technology for the media processing division at ARM. The autonomous nature of the Mali Job Manager, and its ability to carry on graphics processing with a reduced load on the CPU, means it is suited to working alongside a big-little CPU system. By using the right processor for the right task the Mali-T658 is able to handle GPU compute tasks in parallel with the CPU handling the always-on always-connected tasks. ARM CoreLink system IP enables system-level cache coherency across clusters of multi-core processors, including the Cortex-A15 and Mali-T658.

In addition the Mali-T658 is compatible with the ARMv8 full 64bit instruction-set architecture, as is the Mali-T604.

ARM lead partners on the development of the Mali-T658 are listed as Fujitsu Semiconductor, LG Electronics, Nufront and Samsung.

As would be expected the Mali-T658 GPU supports all popular graphics and compute APIs, including Microsoft DirectX 11, Khronos OpenGL ES, Open VG, Khronos OpenCL, Google Renderscript and Microsoft DirectCompute.

- Peter Clarke
  EE Times

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