Multi-core Mali-400 MP designed to bring desktop-class graphics to mobiles and set-top boxes
Chip designer ARM has announced a multi-core graphics processing unit (GPU) capable of allowing mobile devices to process full 1080p high-definition TV.
The Mali-400 MP has a single vertex processor capable of 30 million triangles a second – "way beyond the requirements even of current consoles", according to Chris Porthouse, senior product manager for media hardware at ARM.
In addition the GPU can have between one and four fragment processors, depending on the requirements of the application. With a full complement of four, it can fill beyond a billion pixels a second, well enough for 1080p.
"Our strategy is to bring to everyday devices the kind of graphics currently available only in very high-end products," said Porthouse.
Texas Instruments demonstrated early this year its OMAP 3430 system-on-a-chip pushing out 720p from a handheld device with the aid of an ARM central processor and PowerVR graphics technology from Hertfordshire-based Imagination Technologies.
This is a typical scenario for ARM, providing the core processor design for other manufacturers to wrap other functions, including graphics, around.
The Mali-400 MP will put ARM in competition with one of its own licensees, but Porthouse said there is nothing unusual about this and it was quite normal for manufacturers to buy in graphics technology rather than going to the expense of developing their own.
"We are still trying to work through this but in terms of IP (ie chip design) vendors, and perhaps also GPU [silicon] vendors, we think we are the only people to offer full OpenGL ES 2.0 1080p for HDTV," he said.
The big advantage of the Mali was that you could use the same software however many cores you used. "They can use the same solution across a range of devices, from the Freedom Phone, through mobile internet devices, to high-end set-top boxes in the home."
Porthouse said products using the Mali-400 could be expected on the market by 2010.
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