Ron Wilson, EETimes
7/5/2011 11:52 AM EDT
An examination of ARM’s Mali-T604 graphics processing core yields some important insights into the future of mobile devices, the changing nature of graphics computing, and the future of large IP cores. None of these is destined to rest in familiar territory.
The T604, according to ARM director of graphics research Tom Olson, is a radical departure from the architecture originally introduced by Falanx, the small Norwegian graphics company that would become the heart of ARM’s Media Processing Division. The original Mali family, culminating in the Mali-400MP, was a tile-based architecture conventionally divided into a geometry engine on the front end, responsible for determining the vertices of the polygons in the image; and a shading engine on the back end, responsible for coloring-in those polygons. The tile-based organization of the work is the same, but pretty much everything else has changed.
The impetus for change comes from users’ growing expectations for mobile graphics, according to ARM senior product manager Steve Steele. “In five years, we believe, users will have come to expect an immersive experience on their mobile devices, with gesture-based input and 1080-progressive-scan displays, showing well-rendered images with complex lighting,” Steele suggested. Olson agreed: “During this period the look and feel of desktop and of mobile graphics systems will be converging.”
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