You have probably not heard of ARM Holdings, and even if you have, chances are that you don’t know it as well as you do say Samsung or Apple or Micromax. However, the company plays a significant role in making that rectangle in your hands perform the wonders it does by designing the processor architectures used in almost all mobile devices on the planet. Caught up in the VR fever that is gripping the market, ARM has announced two brand new chip-sets with a particular view upon supporting Virtual Reality.
Announced at the Computex Taipei 2016, the Cortex-A73 CPU and Mali-G71 GPU are among some of the most advanced chipsets ever manufactured. Lets take them a look at them, one by one.
The new Cortex-A73 core prioritizes power efficiency and as such, can preserve upto 30 percent more power than its Cortex-A72 predecessor. The decrease in power consumption is also accompanied by an increase in performance and the A73 offers almost 1.3 times the level of peak performance as compared to A72.
Importantly, ARM has also laid down a lot of focus upon sustained usage of the cores and as such the A73 ica capable of offering over twice the performance within its power budget — In English, the A73 doesnt need to slow down quite as quickly to cut down upon power consumption.
The G71 is part of ARM’s Mali line of GPU’s which according to the company itself, are the most widely used in the world — with over 750 million shipped in just 2015. The GPU uses the company’s third-generation Bifrost architecture and as such provides for an impressive 50 percent higher graphics performance, 20 percent better power efficiency, and 40 percent more performance per square mm over it’s predecessor.
Oh and in case you are wondering where did you hear Bifrost before — The names of these architectures are usually based on Norse mythology. Remember Thor? Bifrost was the rainbow bridge that connected Midgard and Asgard. Yes, the one that Thor broke with his hammer. ARM has Utgard and Midgard line of chipsets too!
The Bifrost architecture is best known for a radically different approach that looks at the GPU as more of a partner to the CPU, rather than a slave component. The Bifrost — and hence the G71 — can also be implemented with up to 32 shader cores — which doubles the potential shader performance — and 4x multi sample anti-aliasing.
In fact, the GPU is so powerful that ARM says that it can match discrete laptop GPUs like Nvidia’s GTX 940M. The G71 also supports 4K resolution, a 120Hz refresh rate, and 4ms graphics pipeline latency — which are some of the requirements for the successful implementation of VR technology.
The chips may be deployed in flagship devices next year. However, before you get all excited and start thinking of supercomputers and whatnot, a lot also depends upon OEMs and how they chose to implement the chips into their devices. For example, while Apple licenses ARM architecture but designs its own custom CPU cores, Samsung is known to use it’s home-grown Exynos processor cores besides ARM’s Cortex cores and Mali GPU in the Galaxy S7.
ARM plans to start manufacturing them by the year end, so you can expect flagship devices with the G71 and/or the A73 to begin appearing in flagships by early next year.