ARM's Mali-T880 GPU To Be 80 Percent Faster Than Mali-T760, Arrives In 2016

ARM hasn't been in the GPU IP market for long. It acquired Falanx, a GPU IP designer, less than 10 years ago (2006), after it was previously sub-licensing GPU IP from Imagination. Since then, ARM's Mali graphics IP has seen steady growth, and ARM is now the GPU IP leader in both the Android market (Apple only uses Imagination GPUs for iOS devices anyway) and in digital TVs market.

ARM's Mali GPU shipped in 550 million devices in 2014, which is 150 million more than in the previous year. It also gained 27 new licensees in 2014, totaling 110 Mali licensees.

ARM has managed to keep its customers happy by continuing to introduce competitive GPU IP. The latest introduction is the Mali-T880 GPU, which will be one level above the Mali-T860, which is in turn the Mali-T760 successor. The Mali-T760 was first seen in the Galaxy Note 4 (international Exynos version), so its successor, the Mali-T860, will likely arrive in the Galaxy Note 5, while the Mali-T880 will probably arrive in Galaxy S7.

The new Mali-T880 will be 80 percent faster compared to the Mali-T760, if power consumption remains at the same levels. If the performance is kept at the same level instead, then the GPU would consume 40 percent less power.

It will be up to chip makers such as Samsung to decide the best compromise between an increase in performance and a decrease in power consumption, but usually chip makers decide to keep the power consumption the same and go all-in with the performance increase. It's also one of the reasons why new smartphones don't seem to be dramatically better in battery life, despite having bigger batteries every year.

There is a new trend in making smartphones much thinner, such as the iPhone 6 or the Galaxy Alpha. These devices tend to have significantly smaller batteries, too. That leads OEMs to want to use more efficient processors, rather than chips that are much more powerful. However, the more efficient chips are only used to compensate for the smaller batteries, so the ultra-thin devices shouldn't get better battery life on average.

The Mali-T880 is highly configurable, and OEMs can use as many as 16 cores, which is up from eight for the Mali-T760 but the same maximum number of cores that the the Mali-T860 will have, as well. The Mali-T880 can also be complemented by ARM's other IP products such as the Mali-V550 video processor and the Mali-DP550 display processor, which can help deliver 4k video.

ARM's high-end product IP suite for 2016 will include the Cortex-A53 CPU core; the Cortex-A72 CPU core, which at 16nm FinFET can deliver three times the performance of the original 28nm Cortex A15; the Mali-T880 GPU, Mali-V550 and Mali-DP550 for media acceleration; and the next-generation CoreLink CCI-500 cache coherent interconnect that ties everything together.

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  • dstarr3
    And in six years, this will be in the Raspberry Pi 5. Can't wait!
  • Vlad Rose
    2016 is a long ways away still. I'm sure the competition will have at least the same as well. Heck, Intel may even be knocking on their power/performance door by that point.
  • InvalidError
    1629708 said:
    2016 is a long ways away still. I'm sure the competition will have at least the same as well. Heck, Intel may even be knocking on their power/performance door by that point.

    If you look at it the other way, 80% more next year is about twice the performance improvement relative to last year's model.

    If the K1's modest sales are any indication, very few people and device manufacturers are interested in high-end mobile graphics if it means sacrificing battery life, so SoC designers are not showing any signs of suffering from having IGPs only about half as fast.

    Intel "catching up" on IGP is likely not much of a concern. Even if Intel had a world-leading IGP, they would still need to convince mobile device designers to switch over to x86, something Intel has been struggling with for years.