ARM takes VR/AR mobile with GPU core

May 30, 2016 // By Peter Clarke
Processor intellectual property licensor ARM Holdings plc (Cambridge, England) has launched Mali G71, its highest performing and most scalable graphics processor unit (GPU) core to date, and its first based on a graphics architecture the company calls Bifrost.

The core is intended to enable demanding graphics use cases such as virtual reality and augmented reality and 4K displays on 2017 mobile equipment by providing a 50 percent performance improvement over the company's current leading GPU, the T880. But it is also expected to find deployment in large-screen devices such as 4K TVs. The core has been launched alongside the Cortex-A73, formerly known as Artemis, as a premium suite of cores for next generation smartphones.

The graphics performance and efficiency uplift is enabled by adoption of the Bifrost architecture – following on from the Utgard and the Midgard architectures that have been behind all of ARM's Mali GPUs to date (see ARM's Bifrost steps up graphics, bridges to machine learning).

ARM's Mali series of GPU cores has become the leading licensed GPU. Source: ARM.

The Mali-G71 introduces a number of innovations to improve raw graphics performance and to improve computational efficiency and the ability to operate within a heterogeneous computing environment. In such mobile devices all the computing resources must work within a common and increasingly demanding thermal envelope ARM executives stressed during briefings held in Austin, Texas.

For example the Mali G series and Bifrost scale up to 32 shader cores compared with 16 shader core maximum in the Midgard architecture as exemplified by the highest-performing Mali-T880

The Mali-G71 is also the first GPU from ARM to comply with the Vulkan 1.0 API specification released by the Khronos Group in February 2016. Vulkan provides a lighter overhead cross-platform access to graphics and compute on GPUs compared with Open GL ES.