Arm has officially announced the Mali-C52 and C-32, the newest generation of its line of image signal processors meant for mobile use cases. According to Arm, these new ISPs boast not only a higher resolution capability than previous iterations and most competitors, but also an entirely new feature set including class-leading HDR support on the higher-end C52, and a full set of built-in tuning tools and drivers to make installation and implementation of both ISPs a breeze. On top of that, the two ISPs can be optimized for either image quality or area using a variety of presets, making implementation across multiple use cases mostly the same, and extremely easy to fine-tune once they're installed.
Background: These new ISPs have similar feature sets, but the higher-end C52 is meant for more intensive use cases, while the C32 is optimized to be used in Internet of Things applications and other, similar use cases that don't require quite as many bells and whistles. Both ISPs can handle content in up to 4K and 60 frames per second with the full feature set included, which consists of HDR, automated noise reduction, and precise color management. To achieve all of this, the ISPs are able to process up to 600 megapixels per second. They have Arm's new Iridix technology on board, along with dynamic range management software and tone mapping technology developed in-house by Arm. Each pixel goes through a 25-step process before being sent from the ISP to the intended output, ensuring that the maximum possible color accuracy and detail is drawn from each and every one. Both ISPs come with a Linux-based software suite that's portable and easy on resources, while boasting full control of just about every tunable for the sensor and connected hardware. On top of that, Arm is even offering tutorials and support for those who wish to tune and implement the C52 and C32 in their company's hardware.
Impact: The most immediate and apparent impact is going to be in consumer-facing products, including things like action cameras, smart cameras, IP cameras, doorbell systems and the like. Those will be sharper, faster, and better than ever once manufacturers jump on board and start using these two new ISPs. The less apparent impact that will take place down the road and is arguably a bit more exciting, however, lies with AI. These new sensors will be able to provide far more accurate and higher quality data to computer vision applications and other AI tools that involve image sensing and processing, up to and perhaps eventually including visual scene processing for robots in a manner similar to how humans perceive the world with their vision. Facial recognition, landmarks, weather conditions, and small details are just a few of the things that image-based AI will be able to handle better with this new hardware. All of that translates to improvements in existing use cases like self-driving cars, factory robots, remote operation robots, and computer vision processing AIs like the one Google uses for Street View, as well as opening up the possibility of entirely new use cases.