ARM intros eight-core graphics chip for next-gen superphones

But the first products are not expected to arrive until 2015

The Mali-T658 graphics processor announced by ARM on Wednesday can be equipped with up to eight cores to help it deliver ten times the graphics performance of the company's existing GPU.

The superior graphics performance is compared to the Mali-400 MP, which is used on a number of smartphones from Samsung Electronics, including the Galaxy S II andthe new Galaxy Note.The chip also has four times the computing power of the Mali-T604 GPU, which has yet to appear in any available products.

The performance boost will result in better HD gaming and help usher in new compute-intensive applications, such as augmented reality, according to ARM. Besides smartphones, the GPU will also be used in tablets, smart TVs and automotive entertainment systems.

But don't expect products based on the Mali-T658 GPU anytime soon. Smartphones based on the Mali-T604 GPU will arrive next year, while products that use a Mali-T658 chip with four cores will arrive in 2013. Products powered by a version with the maximum eight cores are expected to be introduced in 2015, according to a chart from ARM detailing the evolution of its mobile processors.

Samsung, Fujitsu Semiconductor and LG Electronics are among the companies that will partner with ARM on products, ARM said.

The chip is compatible with a number of different of graphics and compute APIs, including DirectX 11 and DirectCompute from Microsoft; Khronos OpenGL ES and OpenCL; Google's Renderscript and OpenVG.

Besides the new Mali GPU, this week also saw the introduction of Acer's 10-inch Eee Pad Transformer Prime tablet. It is powered by the ARM-based Tegra 3 processor, which has four cores, and will start shipping worldwide in December.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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