Adreno 500 (2015 - 2016)
In 2015, Qualcomm announced several new Snapdragon SoC, including the 430, 618, 620 and 820. Inside of these SoCs is a new generation of Adreno GPUs: the 500 Series. Although this series is not yet available on the market, we already know the main characteristics. The Adreno 530 and 510 are compatible with OpenGL ES 3.1+ AES, OpenCL 2.0, Vulkan and DirectX 11.2. Meanwhile, the Adreno 505 is limited to OpenGL ES 3.1 and DirectX 11.2. The Adreno 530 is also the first GPU from Qualcomm to be produced on 14 nm lithography (the Adreno 505 and 510 remain at the 28 nm lithography).
|Name||Adreno 505||Adreno 510||Adreno 530|
|Fab||28 nm||14 nm|
|Clock Speed||?||?||650 MHz|
|API||OpenGL ES 3.1OpenCL 2.0DirectX 11.2||OpenGL ES 3.2 OpenCL 2.0DirectX 12 (feature level 12_1)|
The ARM Mali Series
In 2006, ARM acquired Norway-based GPU developer Falanx. The company became ARM's Norway branch, and develops ARM's GPU technology: Mali. ARM licenses the Mali GPU to other companies to be incorporated into an SoC alongside ARM's CPU cores. Mali GPUs have Nordic code names (Utgard, Midgard) and have been growing increasingly popular with SoC developers, especially manufacturers that offer entry-level SoCs. This is because the companies can license essentially complete, ready-to-use SoCs from ARM and rush into production.
Mali-400 & Mali-450 (2008)
The Mali-400 and Mali-450 (code-named Utgard) are ARM's oldest GPUs, and are still sold as entry-level products. Similar to the PowerVR 5XT series, they can be used in multicore configurations. The Mali-400 is typically found in the 400 MP, 400 MP2 or 400 MP4 designs. The Mali-450 has the option to contain up to eight cores — twice as many as the Mali-400. The Mali-400 MP4 is used in some Samsung Exynos SoCs as well as devices like the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy Note. The Mali-450 is rarer, and dedicated to the entry-level market. Th-400 and Mali-450 are designed for games, and are compatible with OpenGL ES 2.0.
|Clock Speed||500 MHz||650 MHz|
|API||OpenGL ES 2.0 OpenVG 1.1|
|Fillrate||500 Mpixels/s||650 MPixels/s|
|GFLOPS per core||5||14,6|
Mali-T600 (2012 - 2014)
In 2012, ARM unveiled the Mali-T600 GPU family. Unlike the 400 series, the Mali-T600 GPU family is intended for both games and computational work, and GPUs in this series feature support for OpenCL. They also include improved OpenGL ES and DirectX 9.0 support. Mali-T600 GPUs are quite rare, but they're used inside the Samsung Exynos 5, coupled with ARM Cortex-A15 CPUs. Samsung also equipped its first Chromebook with a GPU from the Mali-T600 family.
The next generation of Mali GPUs, the T700 series, was used inside the first 64-bit SoC. An evolution of the Midgard architecture inside the T600 series, it features extended API support for DirectX 11.1 (feature_level 9_3), OpenGL ES 3.1 and OpenCL 1.1. It is used inside several SoCs, including the MediaTek MT6732 (Mali-T760), MT6752 (Mali-T760), MT6753 (Mali-T720MP3) Samsung Exynos Octa 7 (MP6 in some versions, but MP8 in others) and Rockchip RK3288 (Mali-T764).
Mali-T800 (2015 - 2016)
By the end of the year, ARM plans to launch its latest T800 Series of GPUs: Mali-T820, T830 and T860. Built with 28-nm lithography and clocked at 650 MHz, the GPU is DirectX 11.1-compatible (feature level 9_3, except for T860, which is DirectX 11.2-compliant with feature level 11_1), and features support for OpenGL ES 3.1 and OpenCL 1.2 Full Profile. These GPUs continue to use the Midgard architecture, which was introduced with the T600 series. ARM plans to launch an even more powerful GPU in the second quarter of 2016: the Mali-T880. The Mali-T880 will benefit from 16-nm lithography and operate at up to 850 MHz.
Nvidia Enters The Mobile Race
Nvidia entered the mobile GPU game with its Tegra SoCs, incorporating ARM CPUs with Nvidia's graphics technology. The original Tegra was used in some devices, like the Kin and the Zune HD, but did not gain widespread usage. Nvidia's second chip, the Tegra 2, has been much more successful.
Tegra 2 (2010)
The Tegra 2 was the first dual-core SoC, featuring two ARM Cortex-A9 CPUs and a decent GPU. It was compatible with OpenGL ES 2.0 but did not use a unified architecture. Instead, it incorporated four Vertex Shaders alongside four Pixel Shaders. The Tegra 2 had some flaws, such as the lack of support for the NEON instruction set and a video decoding engine issue, but the chip still had much success. Motorola, Samsung, LG, Sony and many other big names have devices that use the Tegra 2.
Tegra 3 (2011)
The Tegra 3, code-named Kal-el, was an evolution of the Tegra 2. Nvidia opted for a quad-core CPU design, and a GPU with a total of 12 cores (eight Pixel Shaders and four Vertex Shaders). The clock speed was also increased to improve performance, and the Tegra 3 was fairly successful. It was used inside the first Microsoft Surface RT, the HTC One X and the Google Nexus 7. The GPU, though highly efficient, suffered from design problems, as it was not a unified architecture, preventing it from supporting versions of OpenGL newer than OpenGL ES 2.0.
Tegra 4 & Tegra 4i (2013)
The Tegra 4 and Tegra 4i failed to gain the popularity of the Tegra 2 and Tegra 3. Nvidia upgraded the processor to Cortex-A15 CPU cores but did not significantly alter the GPU architecture. This proved to be a serious issue, as Nvidia's major competitors in the mobile graphics processor market had already advanced to using unified GPU architectures capable of supporting OpenGL ES 3.0. In an attempt to stay competitive, Nvidia drastically increased the core count inside the GPU to bolster performance. The Tegra 4i's GPU contained 60 processing units (48 Pixel Shaders and 12 Vertex Shaders), while the Tegra 4 possessed 72 cores (48 Pixel Shaders and 24 Vertex Shaders. Few devices were released using these SoCs. The most prominent devices to use them were Nvidia's own Shield and Tegra Note 7.