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Mali-G78 Raises Premium Performance

June 2, 2020

Author: Tom R. Halfhill

One year after introducing the Valhall GPU architecture and high-end Mali-G77, Arm is launching the Mali-G78—a second-generation design that boosts graphics and machine-learning performance by about 15% at the same power level. When matching the G77’s performance, it’s about 10% more power efficient, the company says. Because the G78 targets the latest 5nm FinFET technology, throughput could rise even further above a 7nm G77 design. The maximum number of shader cores increases to 24 versus 16, so performance could theoretically soar by another 50% for those willing to invest in expensive die area.

Mindful of adverse economics and customer desire for scalability, Arm is adding a new mid-premium product as well. The Mali-G68 (which the company calls “sub-premium”) is identical to the G78 but is restricted to smaller configurations of 1 to 6 cores. Although it’s merely a branding strategy, the G68 allows licensees to deliver premium GPU features for the mid-premium tier. Arm now offers three Valhall-based tiers above entry-level GPUs like the Mali-G31, which still employs the previous Bifrost architecture.

Although tier splitting may seem like hair splitting, it allows Arm to offer more options without creating entirely different GPUs for each market segment. Broadening the product line also helps to retain or expand market share—the company claims its GPUs appear in about 50% of smartphones and 85% of smart TVs. Last year, customers reported shipping more than one billion Mali GPUs. Arm began delivering production RTL for the G78 and G68 to licensees late last year, so we expect the first chips to debut in phones and TVs by 1Q21.

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