updated 06:05 pm EST, Wed November 10, 2010
ARM Mali-T604 phone, tablet graphics add OpenCL
ARM today used its self-run Technology Conference to unveil the Mali-T604, the next generation of its embedded mobile graphics core. The design is as much as five times faster as earlier Mali hardware and now officially supports the full OpenCL 1.1 spec. General tasks that can use the video hardware for acceleration, such as multi-touch gestures, should run much faster than when depending on the CPU alone.
The chipset should simultaneously be more efficient, lowering the amount of memory bandwidth it needs by about 30 percent and consuming less power even with the speed boost. ARM also now has DirectX support for Windows CE or Embedded devices and has futureproofed it by adding support for quad-core as well as cache coherence that should work more effectively with the future ARM Cortex-A15 that will often be the main choice of processor.
As a reference design, the Mali-T604 is already available to license for use elsewhere and has already signed up Samsung as a known customer. Release dates will depend on when Samsung and other buyers finish and ship working parts.
The design is being targeted directly at smartphones, set-top boxes, tablets and other mainstream devices and could significantly accelerate the performance of handhelds for those who don't use alternatives like NVIDIA's Tegra 2. Apple's likelihood of using the chip is uncertain, but doubtful. Apple has usually sought the fastest graphics, but it has chosen Imagination Technologies' PowerVR graphics for every iPhone, iPod touch and iPad to date and will have the option of the PowerVR SGX544 next year. The Mali-T604's existence could nonetheless give stiff competition from devices that would otherwise have needed custom components to match Apple's speed.