Before the ARM Techcon3 Developers Conference, we spoke with Elan Lennard, Portal Program Manager at ARM’s Processing division. Lennard explained the background that went into the creation of their new Mali Developers Center. This will be a single location that will have all the necessary tools, sample code, documentation, developers’ platforms, along with forums and blogs to meet other Mali developers.

Mali GPU platform is capable of 1080p HD resolution, offers 2D and 3D graphics and 4x and 16x FSAA [Full Scene Anti-aliasing]. ARM offers the GPU as an SoC [System-on-Chip]. With the Developers Center website, expect Xbox 360-level video graphics on mobile devices by spring 2010. Currently, there are 25 licensees of the Mali GPU IP.

Mali is available in a variety of forms, from the Mali-55, which holds the record as the world’s smallest GPU, to the Mali-400 MP, which ARM calls the "highest-performance embedded multicore GPU IP on the market."

Mali GPU Developer Tools
Mali GPU Developer Tools – set of nine tools for mobile application developers

Lennard said that nine tools are available for Windows and Redhat Linux Enterprise. They are free of charge to developers. She said this is the first time all the tools are located at one URL. In the past, developers had to search several sites to find the various shader authoring, software development, performance analysis, and  corresponding optimization tools.

This time, developers’ boards will be only a click away. The more powerful board will be an ST Ericsson STE MOP500 with a dual ARM Cortex-A9 CPU based on the U8500 chip design with 256MB of memory and the Mali-400 GPU. The Mali-200 board will be the Telechips TCC8900 with the ARM1176JZF-S CPU and memory sizes will be from 128MB to 26MB.

Lennard said that one of the more exciting parts that her team brought together in one location were all the demos. They include the ARM Mali ‘Canvas’ Demo and the ARM Mali TAT UI videos.

Multiple Mali GPU demos featured on the new developer center portal
Multiple Mali GPU demos featured on the new developer center portal

The new Mali Developers Center website will include Tips & Tricks in written short form. There will be white papers, articles, case studies and third-party documentation. In the past, only registered Mali licensees had access to these tools and there was no publicly available documentation.

The Mali GPU Demo engine now has a publicly available software development framework for quickly building Khronos OpenGL ES 2.0 demos and applications on the Mali GPUs. This will allow quick loading of COLLADA assets to improve performance. In addition, Adobe Flash 10.1 and Java are now integrated into the complete Cortex IP, and the Mali GPU enhances their display.

Last year, we spoke with Dr. Jon Peddie, of Jon Peddie Research and he predicted that the other GPU IP suppliers such as ATI, Imagination Technology, and Vivante now have some serious competition. We will ask him what he thinks of ARM’s Mali GPU now. We believe with the new Mali GPU Developers Center faster development will happen sooner for all the ARM IP licensees.