New Arm processor to bring 3D, gaming to smartphones

Arm announces Mali T604 graphics processor supporting DirectX 11 and OpenCL 1.1

Arm hopes to bring high-performance graphics applications such as 3D imaging and gaming to handheld devices like smartphones while keeping battery life intact with a new graphics processor design it announced on Wednesday.

Everyday multimedia applications like video playback and image recognition draw a lot of battery life, but the company's new Mali T604 graphics processor will accelerate those applications while drawing less power, said Ian Smythe, director of marketing at ARM. The Mali T604 will be able to handle 3D imaging and full high-definition video.

Arm also makes CPUs that go into most of world's smartphones, and the new graphics processor will work in conjunction with CPUs to improve performance. The graphics processor delivers a five-time performance improvement over its predecessors, and when built inside a chip, consumes less than 850 milliwatts.

Smartphones have evolved over years, and today are handling a larger load of multimedia applications, Smythe said. Tasks such as gesture and speech recognition can also be off-loaded from CPUs to graphics processors. Smythe said.

Arm licenses its processor designs to chip manufacturers such as Samsung, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and other companies. The company didn't announce licensees for the graphics processor, but the chip designs could be found in devices like smartphones and set-top boxes two years from now, Smythe said.

The graphics processor is designed to work with the company's latest Cortex-A15 CPU, which was announced in September. The A15, which is designed for devices ranging from smartphones to servers, could scale up in performance with up to 16 cores, with each CPU running at 2.5GHz. Both processors have coherent hardware caches and interfaces to provide a performance advantage and reduction in power consumption, Smythe said.

The concept of harnessing the power of graphics processors to boost system performance originates from PCs. Many servers, laptops and PCs now use graphics cards alongside CPUs to boost tasks like gaming, viewing video and image manipulation. Applications like Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome are implementing the capability to offload tasks like rendering of HTML 5 or Flash video content to graphics processors.

Some of the world's fastest supercomputers also use graphics processors to speed math and science applications. But CPUs are still important, and remain at the center of processing everyday tasks such as Web browsing and running productivity applications.

Developers also need to write applications to harness the parallel-processing capabilities of CPUs and graphics processors. The Mali T604 will be compatible with Microsoft's DirectX 11 and OpenCL 1.1, which are competing programming frameworks for parallel task execution.

DirectX 11 is a set of APIs (application programming interfaces) that are capable of bringing more realistic images to Microsoft's Windows 7 OS, which is used on PCs. But Windows 7 works on Intel processors and does not work with Arm processors, while Microsoft's smartphone OS -- Windows Phone 7 -- does not include full DirectX 11 compatibility. Arm's Smythe declined to comment whether Microsoft's smartphone OS would eventually build in full DirectX 11 capabilities.

The company is providing support for the DirectX 11 framework in case Arm licensees need it, Smythe said.

"We really can't comment on Microsoft's roadmap," Smythe said. "We see it as a requirement from our semiconductor customers to have the capability to support DX."

Microsoft did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The OpenCL standard includes a C-like programming language with APIs to enable parallel task execution. IBM, Apple, Intel, Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices are among the backers of OpenCL.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags smartphonesprocessorspc componentsComponentsGraphics boardsArm Holdings

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?