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2016's smartphones: 4K video and "console quality" games

Barry Collins
4 Feb 2015
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ARM lays out its plans for its next-generation processors

ARM's next-generation processor will allow mobile devices to capture super-smooth 4K footage as early as next year. The British chip designer's next system-on-a-chip will give smartphones and tablets the power to record 4K video at 120 frames per second - although you'll need plenty of free storage to capture video of that quality. 

ARM is also promising that the Cortex-A72 processor, combined with the CoreLink CCI-500 interconnect and the new Mali-T880 GPU, will deliver "console-class gaming performance and graphics". That's a rather wooly promise, with ARM not stating which type or generation of console it's referring to.

Putting a little more flesh on the bones, however, ARM says the "new Mali-T880 GPU delivers 1.8X the graphics performance of today's Mali-T760 based devices and a 40% reduction in energy consumption across identical workloads". The T760 is found in high-end devices such as the Galaxy Note 4, so it could well be a signifcant step forward in graphics performance.

It's not only gamers who are set to benefit from the improved grunt. ARM says the next-generation architecture will provide smoother handling of office documents - which will be music to the ears of anyone who's tried to open a heavily formatted document on a mobile device.

It will also allow manufacturers to offer on-device natural language processing (NLP). Today's NLP systems, such as Apple's Siri and Google Now, do most of their processing in the cloud, meaning the user can't access voice controls without an active data connection. This development may allow Apple and co to introduce limited offline features.   

ARM says Android 5 device manufacturers are already taking advantage of the benefits afforded by its 64-bit architecture, including "crypto instructions to protect consumers' data" and support for more than 4GB of RAM. It expects these benefits to be become more widespread when the Cortex-A72 starts to arrive in devices next year. 

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