updated 01:00 pm EDT, Sun July 3, 2011
ARM sees Mali chip rivalling consoles in 18 months
ARM's Mali processors will be fast enough to equal a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 in power, the company said in an interview late this week. The T604 has caught up quickly enough that it can match the 2005- and 2006-era consoles in power as well as give options that weren't there before. It will be the company's first to support OpenCL and general-purpose computing, both giving it a lift for gaming as well as opening the door to low-power servers, ARM told The Inquirer.
The company is on a longer development track than Intel. ARM takes 1.5 to two years to release a substantially new design where intel has a new process or architecture every year. The company would likely be moving past Moore's Law of doubling performance every two years, though, as new techniques to improve power management, as well as using much faster graphics cores, was giving practical speed boosts.
Most of those techniques involve dynamic throttling, where one or more CPU and graphics cores ramp down when unused. The approach can keep a smartphone or a tablet from consuming too much power for basic tasks but kick in the full power when it's needed, such as for a game or HD video.
The comments largely line up with those from id Software's Rafael Brown and John Carmack. Both expect quad-core devices like the PlayStation Vita to already be capable of running games like Rage just as well as they would on a TV console with far fewer limitations than in the past.
Not every company will use the new Mali architecture, but it's likely to be a staple of future Samsung smartphones. Apple will also have at least a rough equivalent to the T604 no later than next year.