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Samsung backs ARM's souped-up graphics platform

Mali T604 will support HD and 3D in low power devices, says ARM


Published: 11 November, 2010

READ MORE: ARM | Samsung | Semiconductor

Samsung is the first major vendor to adopt ARM's latest graphics chip, giving a significant boost to the smaller company's bid to extend its dominance in processor design into the GPU. Samsung is an existing user of ARM's Mali graphics technology, but its continuing support will enhance ARM's confidence against rival IP supplier Imagination Technologies, especially as GPUs become more important in mobile devices.

The new Mali T604 platform, unveiled at ARM's developer conference this week, aims to bring high performance applications like 3D imaging and gaming to smartphones, without sacrificing battery life. The upgraded graphics processor will accelerate video applications while drawing less power, said marketing director Ian Smythe, and will handle 3D imaging and full HD video. Performance is up fivefold on the previous Mali, and when included in a chip, the core consumes less than 850 milliwatts.

Mali is designed to work with ARM's latest CPU core, the Cortex-A15, which targets smartphones, tablets and even servers. Up to 16 2.5GHz cores can work together for these larger systems.

Mali T604 will be compatible with Microsoft's DirectX 11 and with OpenCL 1.1, both programming frameworks for parallel processing over multiple cores. The inclusion of DirectX 11 aroused speculation that this programming technology would soon be supported fully in Windows Phone 7. Currently, full compatibility with DirectX 11 is only seen in Windows 7, but that does not run on ARM processors (though its ties to the Intel x86 design may be broken at last if ARM moves up to servers).

OpenCL is a C-like programming language with APIs for parallel execution and is supported by many heavyweights including IBM, Apple, Intel and Nvidia.

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