From most people perspective ARM is synonymous with their CPUs and has dominated the mobile processor market for some time now, but they’re not as well known for their Graphical Processing Units (GPUs) with their only major success in that arena being smart TVs, of which 70% use ARM GPUs.
All this could change though as ARM tries to make inroads into other sectors of the market with their latest T-600 second generation GPUs, which they say offer a 50% performance boost over previous models.
According to ARM the strength of their new GPUs is that they’ve been designed to work in close harmony with ARM’s CPUs. As processing speeds have increased for both CPUs and GPUs ARM has recognised that certain processing tasks are more suited to GPUs, particularly those involving high degrees of parallelism (parallel processing). As a result they’ve tried to optimise processing by directing tasks to the GPU, in circumstances where this is estimated to be more efficient, thereby increasing speed and consequentially battery life.
Allied to the hardware performance boost is ARM’s collection of ‘revolutionary’ new data compression algorithms known as ‘Adaptive Scalable Texture Compression’ (ASTC). Covering a wide range of 2D and 3D formats ASTC effectively allows greater detail with less data and ARM are hoping that this will rival or even overtake the standards set by the PS3 or Xbox 360.
Energy efficiency is again very clearly on the agenda and as ARM explains in addition to enhanced hardware designs, texture compression also increases battery life, since moving less data uses less battery. Download sizes are also reduced saving further on battery life as well as download times.
ARM plans to licence ATSC technology on a range of platforms and further anticipate that the T-600 GPUs will be used in smart TVs for enhanced onscreen graphics and other media content such as games.