New ARM GPU could bring VR to low-cost smartphones by 2018

ARM's Mali G-51 GPU is smaller, faster, and designed for budget handsets

Today, a robust, VR-capable smartphone could cost you more than US $500. But a new GPU from ARM could make VR a default feature in low-cost handsets by 2018.

ARM's Mali-G51 GPU is targeted toward budget smartphones and has the horsepower to handle VR applications. It can bring VR to mainstream handsets priced around $200.

Today, 4K and virtual reality are mostly limited to high-end handsets like Samsung's Galaxy S7, which allows users to hook up to a VR headset to roam virtual worlds.

[Related: 3SIXT Virtual Reality Headset review]

Google's DayDream VR system will initially come to some high-end smartphones, but ARM's Mali G-51 could bring that technology to low-end handsets. DayDream requires handsets to include specific features to be VR compatible.

The ARM GPU could also be used directly in stand-alone VR headsets, much like Allwinner's H8VR chipset. The low-cost VR headset is booming, with many models being made by small Chinese companies.

The Mali G-51 is designed to operate within the limited size and power constraints of a smartphone. It won't match the experience of an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, which need to be paired with some of the most powerful PC GPUs from Nvidia or AMD.

Smartphone makers are bragging about graphics capabilities as hype grows around 4K video and virtual reality. The Mali G-51 won't be expensive to implement considering its small size, ARM said.

The GPU is based on ARM's Bitfrost architecture, which balances power consumption with the demanding horsepower required by graphics.

It is faster and more power efficient than previous ARM GPUs, so smartphones will draw less power when running graphics intensive applications.

The GPU also has specific features for VR applications like gaming and collaboration. It has a pipeline that enables faster processing of VR content.

ARM's GPUs are used in handsets from top smartphone makers like Samsung and LG. Qualcomm, Nvidia, Apple, Imagination Technologies, and AMD have also developed mobile GPU technology.

ARM designs processors like Mali and its Cortex CPU, which chip makers can then license. The Mali G-51 can be paired with V-series video processors from ARM in smartphones.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags ArmVR

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?