Much of the smartphone industry depends on silicon from the likes of Qualcomm, Samsung and NVIDIA to put high-end processors inside of our smartphones and tablets. Before those names however, there is ARM Holdings, a UK firm responsible for the Cortex-A series of processor designs the likes of the Sanpdragon 820 is based off of. They're also responsible for designs of GPU and video processors, too, which are often used in complete GPU designs such as the Mali-T880 inside of the Exynos version of the Galaxy S7. Now, ARM is introducing a pair of new processor designs, one to power video and the other to power graphics. Both of which focus on mixing 3D graphics and video together – like Pokemon GO and the filters used in Snap and so on – as well as higher-end games and of course, virtual reality.
Starting with the Mali-V61, ARM's new video processor design, the firm has designed something that will be ready for the future of entertainment and content consumption. Designed for 4K video playback all the way up to 120fps, as well as able to tackle 4K 30fps content in smaller, more power-efficient packages, the Mali-V61 is a chip that will put up with today's demands easily, as well as tomorrow's without much difficulty. As this is a video processor design, the Mali-V61 focuses on the use of the newer VP9 and HEVC video codecs, both of which will allow for much lower file sizes, less latency and yet still deliver the same sort of quality we've become accustomed to when streaming on our smartphones or tablets. ARM is promising 50 percent bit-rate savings when using the Mali-V61 and these new codecs, which will result in much less bandwidth being used, while still sharing the same sort of videos that we're used to.
The Mali-G51, on the other hand, is more what many people will be used to as it's a traditional sort of graphics processor, in that it's design to push higher-resolution graphics than we're used to seeing, and it will also be built for the future of mobile virtual reality. The team at ARM have developed their own frame buffer, which ensures that all the data inside of a virtual reality scene gets to someone's eyes as quickly as required, while the new Vulkan API has improved greatly, and a new texturing unit will offer improved graphical detail. The Mali-G51 will offer 4K resolution while rendering Vulkan graphics, and is also 60 percent faster per mm-squared in terms of silicon size, and will usher in a new age of mobile gaming when it lands in devices.
Speaking of availability, these two new processors will be available for manufacturers starting 2017 and will hit devices in early 2018. This seems a long time away, but it's traditional for ARM to give such a lead time, as it's difficult to adequately plan for a complete system-on-chip (SoC) without this sort of information upfront. ARM typically doesn't comment on their licensees, but they did tell us that a great number of key licensees had already signed up for these new chip designs.