During our visit at GDC we saw many familiar faces that we could relate to games, but you coudl tell the foucs was on the mobile. During a talk with ARM details were revealed about Samsung’s Exynos 5250, and especially the powerful graphics circuit.
The new system processor Exynos 5250 from Samsung is expected to appear in products near the end of the year, with two Cortex-A15 cores at 2.0 GHz and bandwidth at 12.8 GB/s – double up from Cortex-A9. Performance in Cortex-A15 is expected to be better than Qualcomm ”Krait” Snapdragon that has already impressed us, When we asked ARM about the performance of its new architecture in relation to Krait it sad the former is somewhere in between Cortex-A9 and Cortex-A15. Juding from this we have more to expect from ARM and its partners than what Qualcomm is currently shipping to manufacturers.
The graphics circuit has been a bit unclear up until now, when we found out that it will be Mali-T604, but with one important detail yet to be uncovered. With ARM’s Mali-400 it intruduced the possibility of scaling the graphics with more cores for better performance. Samsung’s Exynos 4210 and 4212 only sports one Mali-400, which is still enough for the top end of the performance circuits.
Exynos 5250 will sport either 2 or 4 Mali T604 cores. It is likely Samsung will offer two separate circuits, one for smartphones with two cores and one with four cores for tablets and possibly notebooks, but ARM could not answer to any certaintity here. Mali-T604 will perform three to five times better than Mali-400, although we don’t know how many GPU cores they were using then, but Exynos 5250 should still bring a big boost on the graphic side of things. Also the processor is expected to be better, up to four times faster with two två Cortex-A15 cores at 2.0 GHz.
Mali-T604 marks an important milestone for ARM and its partners, since it not only brings better performance but also moves over to a Shader-based model, more like what AMD and NVIDIA are using for their graphics circuits, and is programmable to make use of it for other things than games and effects. We find full support for OpenCL 1.1, and DirectCompute that is part of the Microsoft’s DirectX API. On the game side we find DirectX 9, 10 and 11 support, which is very fitting now that ARM is getting Microsoft Windows. When we asked about tessellationen with DirectX 11, ARM confirmed that Mali-T604 supports this.
We can also confirm that Exynos 5250 will not get a big.LITTLE configuration, which has been speculated in the past. When Exynos 5250 launches in retail is entirely up to Samsung, but ARM was confident it will arrive before the end of 2012.