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Mali-G52 Boosts Mainstream Phones

April 3, 2018

Author: Mike Demler

Arm’s new Mali graphics and multimedia cores target the mainstream smartphone market. The Mali-G52 improves area, performance, and power-efficiency compared with the Mali-G51, the first mainstream Bifrost GPU. In addition to aligning GPU/VPU product numbering, the Mali-V52 video codec supports decoding/encoding at 4K resolution. Completing the suite is the Mali-D51, a new display processor core that offloads composition, rotation, scaling, and other tasks from the GPU.

Dedicated neural-network inference engines are now standard for running machine-learning applications on premium smartphone processors, but the Mali-G52 offers a lower-cost alternative by running these applications on a GPU. Relative to its predecessor, the new design doubles the execution-engine width from four to eight lanes, each supporting four single-cycle multiply-accumulators (MACs). According to the company’s estimates, the lane expansion increases the GPU die area by just 22%. To further boost neural-network performance, the G52 moves INT8 dot-product calculations from the floating-point pipeline to dedicated fixed-point units. For MAC-intensive convolution layers, Arm estimates these improvements raise inference-engine performance by 3.6x compared with the Mali-G51.

The company is also offering a smaller Bifrost GPU for the low-cost market. The new Mali-G31 gives designers a choice of single- or dual-pixel shaders, along with an option to use one or two execution units per shader. In a 16nm process, we estimate the tiny single-execution-unit G31 consumes roughly 1.0mm2. It’s the smallest Mali GPU to support the OpenGL ES 3.2 and Khronos Vulkan APIs. The cores are available now for licensing, and we expect the first smartphones to launch in 1H19.

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