ARM flexes mobile GPU muscle with announcement of new Mali line

Mobile processor maker ARM announced the second generation of its T-600 "Mali" line of mobile graphics processors on Monday, saying that new texture compression techniques will allow the new systems to provide substantial improvements in energy efficiency and performance.

ARM's Adaptive Scalable Texture Compression format is at the heart of the new processors. The company said in a statement that the technology "supports a very wide range of pixel formats and bit rates, and enables significantly higher quality than most other formats currently in use. This allows the designer to use texture compression throughout the application, and to choose the optimal format and bit rate for each use case."

ARM says that it has achieved a 50% performance bump over comparable products from the first generation of the Mali line, thanks to ASTC, frequency optimisation and improved microarchitecture.

Pete Hutton, ARM's media processing division general manager, said that consumer demand for better mobile graphics is growing.

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"People expect higher standards of visual computing on their smartphones, tablets and smart-TVs with seamless access to their digital world and personal content," he said.

It's unclear, as yet, when devices powered by this potent new line of chips will make it to the marketplace - ARM didn't provide any definitive information in its statement, and Engadget notes that even the previous generation of Mali-enabled devices "is taking forever to come to market".

Graphical performance is quickly becoming a more competitive aspect of smartphone and tablet design. Google's Nexus 7 tablet won widespread praise in part because of its strength in this area. That strength is provided by ARM rival Nvidia's Tegra line of mobile GPUs.