Mobile chip giant ARM Holdings has just shed some light on their plans for 2013 and the focus seems to be on gaming. With Nvidia currently a household name in the graphics department, ARM wants a piece of that pie and come 2013, expect entry level and mid-range smartphones to get a serious boost in graphics power. ARM is readying their Mali-450 GPU, the successor to the ever so popular Mali-400MP GPU that resides in many great phones like the Samsung Galaxy S II. The T450 GPU is said to offer almost twice the performance of the current chip and the best part is, ARM will be positioning it for entry-level and mid-range phones.
More powerful graphics coming up
The GPU will be based on the same Utgard architecture but tweaked for better performance and to work with multi-core CPUs. The Mali-400 GPU maxed out at the ability to use 4 graphics cores but the T450 will be able to scale up to 8 graphic cores that are just four short of Nvidia’s Tegra 3. Entry-level phones can have a T450 GPU with 1-4 cores enabled whereas slightly more powerful and expensive mid-range phones can have the full 8 cores to play around with. The one area that the GPU still lags behind is the lack of support for general purpose computing on GPU or GPGPU. This means things face tracking, gesture recognition and other low level image processing operations will still be handled by the CPU, which is not the most efficient for battery life. This is where ARM’s high end GPUs come in – the Mali-T604 and Mali-658. These GPUs are all set to ship in products in the second half of 2012 and so far, the first product that we suspect of having this new chip is the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. NordicHardware managed to get some Baemark ES scores which show the Note 10.1 zooming past the Galaxy S III, the current reigning benchmark champion. The T604 is based on their new Midgard architecture with full support for GPGPU computing. The higher end T658 GPU is their flagship offering followed by Skrymir, which will come much later sometime in 2014.
This just goes to show that high-end mobile gaming is soon going mainstream and is no longer for just the elite users anymore. ARM’s Mali-450 GPU is a step in that direction and It’s not too long until handheld gaming units like the PSP would be a thing of the past.
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