Section by Andrei Frumusanu

It’s been two years since Arm announced their first “next-generation” GPU architecture based on Bifrost and alongside with it its first implementation the G71. Following its release in the first products the GPU was off to a very shaky start as the G71 was quite a disaster in the Kirin 960 and Exynos 8895 as both GPU implementations blew past their power budgets in severe manners.

This year’s G72 was a much more reasonable product as it offered up to a 100% improvement in efficiency in the Kirin 970 and Exynos 9810, putting the G72 a lot nearer to the performance and efficiency targets that the Bifrost architecture was promised to achieve.

Today’s Arm announces the follow-up to the G72 and the latest offspring in the Bifrost family: The Mali G76. The targets of the GPU IP should be pretty clear: Improve performance, efficiency and area and try to catch up with the competition as much as possible.

Overall what Arm promises for the next generation of SoCs using the G76 on a new TSMC 7nm process is a 50% increase in performance versus current generation devices.

In terms of apples-to-apples comparisons, we see three key metrics that are improved: A 30% improvement in performance density is the first one. What this means is that either for the same area, the new GPU will perform 30% better, or for the same performance, the vendor can shrink the GPU space on the SoC.

The new GPU promises a 30% microarchitectural efficiency improvement thanks to a consolidation of the functional blocks of the unit. Efficiency is particularly something Arm needs to focus on in regards to Mali as we’ve seen a few missteps over the last year or two and the competition from Qualcomm in the GPU and 3D gaming space is particularly fierce.

Finally, there’s a quoted 2.7x improvement for machine learning inferencing applications thanks to the inclusion of new dedicated 8-bit dot product instructions.

The Mali G76 µarch - Scaling It Up
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  • ET - Monday, June 4, 2018 - link

    How 'significantly cheaper' would you expect such a card to be compared to a $70 discrete GPU?

    Based on the expected GFXBench score and further extrapolation, the G76MP20 could perform about the same as the 1030, and it's possible that it could work with slower RAM and save there, but still, I don't see how it could be a really successful or high margin product. There would be need for a complete product line reaching significantly higher performance to make this more than a curiosity.
  • eastcoast_pete - Monday, June 4, 2018 - link

    I would really appreciate if you could provide a link to a vendor's site that lists a 1030 card for $ 70. The cheapest I have seen them was for ~ $ 120. If I can get one for $ 70 - we have a deal, even if it is the even further throttled DDR4 version. $ 70 is about what that card is really worth.

    Unrelated to this: My question arose from a situation I believe a number of us have: a HTPC that's otherwise Ok (in my case, around a Haswell i5), but cannot for the life of it decode 2160p HEVC at 30 fps or faster. If nothing else, a 1030 class card does at least have HDMI 2.0 out. For a new build, I would probably give the Ryzen 2400G a spin.
  • ET - Wednesday, June 6, 2018 - link

    I think I can post again. Spam filter blocked me yesterday from posting anything at all. I'll try the part without dollar signs first.

    If you just want video, why would you need a GeForce 1030 level GPU? Video is a different ARM IP anyway, not part of the G76.

    I do see a small market for a very low power USB GPU that's simply a mobile CPU with some low power RAM. All that basically needs is drivers, and preferably BIOS support. That would allow for example creating Ryzen based PCs without having to stick a GPU in the case, and would work for people like you with old hardware who want support for newer standards, including for laptop owners who want video out and for whom a GPU upgrade is impractical.
  • ET - Wednesday, June 6, 2018 - link

    Okay, now for the tricky part.

    I indeed see that the 1030 has gone up in price. I can find it for $ 90 at Amazon and Newegg, so it's not as bad as you say, and there's a DDR4 version for $ 77, which may be okay if what you're looking for is video playback and not 3D performance. However, I don't think a G76 part would solve the GPU market prices problem. If it's good enough, its price will go up like the rest of them. If it's not, its market share will be rather small. I think (as I posted in the other part) that a low power USB card would have a larger market. It would be a more convenient add-on, which could be applied to more configurations.
  • darkich - Friday, June 1, 2018 - link

    16.9fps/W vs 11.9fps/W (Snapdragon 845), and you "don't think it will catch up with the competition".
  • vladx - Friday, June 1, 2018 - link

    Indeed the author/s seem quite biased.
  • Andrei Frumusanu - Saturday, June 2, 2018 - link

    There's a process node difference between that comparison. An eventual Snapdragon 855 will surpass it.
  • vladx - Saturday, June 2, 2018 - link

    Jumping to such conclusions doesn't sit well with being an impartial party.
  • jospoortvliet - Monday, June 4, 2018 - link

    Oh come on you think they should assume the next snapdragon is not improved to be seen as impartial?

    They point out that the projection is that this MALI will be 15% faster than the current snapdragon. But it comes out next year and this will have to compete with the next snapdragon, not the 845. Totally sane to point out that given their history it seems a stretch to same that Qualcomm will only improve their new high end SOC by 15% or less...
  • jospoortvliet - Monday, June 4, 2018 - link

    Same -> assume

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