ARM Unveils Mali-G51 GPU With Bifrost Architecture and Mali-V61 VPU

ARM Unveils Mali-G51 GPU With Bifrost Architecture and Mali-V61 VPU
  • The Mali-G51 GPU is the first mainstream Bifrost GPU
  • It brings AR and low-power VR support for virtual spaces
  • The Mali-V61 is meant for live video streaming apps

ARM on Sunday unveiled two new products - the Mali-V61 video processing unit (VPU) and the Mali-G51 graphics processing unit (GPU). The latter is scheduled to arrive in commercial devices from 2018.

UK-based ARM Holdings, which has begun the process of being acquired by SoftBank, says the Mali-G51 is its most "area-efficient and energy efficient GPU till date." Compared to its predecessor, the Mali-T830, the Vulkan-enabled Mali-G51 GPU is 30 percent smaller, offers 60 percent more performance per square millimetre, and, is 60 percent more energy-efficient.

The Mali-G51 is based on ARM's Bifrost architecture, first seen on the high-end Mali-G71, and is meant to enable premium features, AR support, and low-power VR support (for applications like virtual spaces) on mainstream devices. ARM says Bifrost's lowest level instruction set has been further optimised for the Mali-G51, and "rebalanced for power-sensitive workloads."

The smaller die size of the Mali-G51 is also said to help reduce costs, while providing better performance. It sports a redesigned texturing unit with double the throughput. The new dual-pixel shader core will double texel and pixel rates, and can now be used asymmetrically with the uni-shader core. It also supports the latest version (v1.2) of the ARM Frame Buffer Compression (AFBC) technology, meant to optimise GPU performance in limited bandwidth scenarios.

Coming to the Mali-V61, the VPU is meant to "address real-time video applications for Generation Z." It supports real-time 4K video decoding/ encoding at up to 120 frames per second (4K120). The company says the VPU is aimed at live-streaming video applications like Facebook Live and Periscope.

Supporting both HEVC and VP9 encode (in 10-bit), the Mali-V61 is said to provide 50 percent bit-rate savings compared to previous generation codecs. ARM says the VPU is the "first multi-standard video processor to be contained in a single IP block."

It is meant to address both mainstream and premium devices, with the company adding the VPU scales from 1080p60 on a single core to 4K120 on multiple cores. ARM says Mali-V61 GPU with its multiple encode/ decode stream support is ideal for video conferencing as well.

Alongside the Mali-DP650 display processor, Mali-G71 and Mali-G51 GPUs, the Mali-V61 is the third element in the ARM Mali Multimedia Suite configuration.

"The cost and visual experience a device delivers are key purchasing factors for Generation Z and mainstream mobile users," said James McNiven, general manager for CPU and media processing groups, ARM. "Our latest Mali video and graphics IP suite meets this demand by offering immersive VR, gaming and compliance with real-time video standards. This is a system-level media solution that enables developers to balance performance, efficiency and cost control."


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