Today ARM has announced four new IP designs for the mainstream market that promise to improve users' experience in several ways: faster and more responsive smart assistants, higher performance and longer-lasting mobile gaming, and display technology in various sizes with sharper visuals and better performance.
In the first part of its announcement, Arm is introducing two new neural processing units (NPUs) that are part of its new Ethos NPU family. The first and oldest member of the lineup — the Ethos-N77 (previously called the Arm ML processor) — was unveiled in the first half of 2019, and it's now joined by two younger siblings: the Ethos-N57 and Ethos-N37. Whereas the Ethos-N77 caters to the highest segment of the market, the N57 and N37 are for the cost-sensitive mainstream market.
Offloading intensive AI and ML routines to dedicated NPUs offers many benefits: faster compute times, longer battery life through the use of onboard memory, increased security, and less risk of data exposure. As a result, consumers are expected to have a more pleasant time talking with their now-speedier smart assistants, promptly see real-time translation for shows in another language, and keep more of their private data close by.
Although Arm doesn't explicitly drop any names, it claims its new NPUs can offer up to 200% more performance over competing solutions through optimization techniques, such as the Winograd implementation.
Also being unveiled today is the Mali-G57 GPU, the first mainstream Valhall architecture-based GPU that delivers up to 1.3x better performance over its predecessor, the Mali-G52, which is based on the older Bifrost architecture.
Arm says the chip is 30% more energy-efficient and provides up to a 60% improvement for machine learning applications. If the Mali-G57 lives up to Arm's claims, then it will bring higher-fidelity, console-like graphics to a wider breadth of mobile devices, make AR and VR applications more immersive, and enable 4K and 8K interfaces on affordably-priced TVs to be a more common sight. Mainstream mobile gamers should see benefits also, in terms of higher and more consistent FPS and longer battery life.
The final new announcement today from Arm is the Mali-D37 display processing unit (DPU). Designed for entry-level and low-cost devices, it promises to bring better visuals and performance at up to 2K resolutions while saving up to 30% system power. The DPU can be integrated into several form-factors, such as a smart display, a tablet, or a household appliance. With several low-cost phones and tablets still rocking atrocious resolutions like 720P, this is definitely welcome news.
After today's announcement, Arm has certainly done its part to help invigorate the competitive landscape of the mainstream market and bring some hitherto premium features — Valhall GPU architecture and 2K resolutions — into the entry-level and low-cost segments of the market. Now, we just need to sit tight and wait as companies begin to implement these new chips into their future devices so we can judge how successful Arm's new initiative is.