(Left) Mali T678 block diagram (Right) Mali real-world perfomrance test (via ARM)
When it comes to mobile computing, ARM Holdings is the boss. The Samsung Galaxy S III exhibits the greatest graphics power around utilizing ARM's quad-core Mali 400 GPU. ARM has announced they have the next family graphics processors ready, the Mali-T600 GPU. It has taken so long to bring the T600 to market, that they are also release the next iteration of Mali-T600 series GPUs that will perform up to 50 percent better than their previous generation.
The second generation will consist of the T624, T628, and T678. The last one, the T678, will be optimized for tablets. The GPUs will be the first of their kind to include Adaptive Scalable Texture Compression(ASTC). Due to the way GPUs work, they use lots of memory bandwidth from constantly requesting new data to written to and read from the memory. On mobile devices, these tasks use a lot of power, often rendering the device useless for stretches of time. ASTC compresses these requirements and in turn, improves power and performance.
Mali functional flow (via ARM)
ASTC has been in the works for quite a while, no easy feat to accomplish. Texture compression comes in many different formats and bit rates to support. However, ASTC will be the first system to support bit rates from 1 bit per pixel (bpp) to 8 bpp, and support one to four color components. The system will be universal, setting a new standard for mobile graphics.
The new GPUs will deliver much better performance while not drawing any more power than current devices and will not be any bigger. The GPUs will be likely to deliver “console-class gaming” onto mobile devices and will give them the ability to support up to 60 fps. However, the first generation of the Mali T600 family has yet to hit the market still, and we likely will not be seeing the 2nd generation until the beginning of next year sometime. Looks like the waiting will be the hardest part.