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ARM for video game consoles?

ARM is well known for its processors in the embedded space, and even handheld gaming consoles like the Nintendo DS uses them for their processing power. But can ARM break into the mainstream video game consoles with its Mali-based GPU?

Read on to find out more.

Considering that the ARM architecture is pretty much the de facto architecture that most microprocessors use in the embedded space, especially for mobile phones and portable gaming consoles, it might come as a surprise that their Mali graphics processing cores are nowhere near the popularity of the ARM-based processors.

But ARM is looking to change that, and it seems that their method of doing so will be to push for gaming consoles that are powered by the Mali-based GPUs.

In an interview with the TG Daily website, Ian Smythe, a spokesman for ARM, said that the Mali GPU is “consistently delivering more and more performance”.

“There isn’t any reason why ARM’s Mali shouldn’t be in a gaming console at some point. Something like that would definitely be a good ambition for us to have in terms of hardware scalable up to those levels. Really, it is all about scalability for ARM,” he explained.

However, he also pointed out that ARM will still remain committed to the embedded and mobile space.

“Of course, we wouldn’t leave existing markets, but the goal would be successfully scale across multiple and diverse spaces simultaneously,” he said.

However, how Mali is going to gain acceptance with the manufacturers and users remains to be seen, as the architecture is seldom seen on most devices today: according to X-bit Labs, the adoption of Mali has been slow, with various “companies like Apple and Intel using cores from PowerVR inside some of their chips.”

Still, it should be noted that if ARM does intend to get into the graphics race, it’ll have to contend with established powerhouses like ATI/AMD, Nvidia, S3 Graphics, and possibly even Matrox, although the latter specializes in professional graphics cards instead of the end-user cards.

But ARM does have a key advantage in the graphics mix-up; with the exception of Nvidia’s Tegra (which is already ARM-based), none of the aforementioned companies have really paid much attention to the embedded graphics segment, thus leaving ARM with a almost uncontested spot in this area.

Although the bigger question would be whether ARM could get the Mali-based GPU to scale appropriately with the graphics-hungry video game consoles, and more importantly, whether console manufacturers like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will bite.

Source: TG Daily via X-bit Labs

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