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Making Virtual More of a Reality with the New Arm Mali-D77 Display Processor

By Nandan Nayampally, VP & GM, Immersive Experience Group, Arm

By Nandan Nayampally, vice president and general manager, Client Line of Business, Arm

News Highlights: 

  • New Arm Mali-D77 display processor IP delivers superior VR performance for head-mounted displays (HMD), eliminating motion sickness and optimized for 3K120
  • All new fixed function hardware achieves more than 40% system bandwidth savings, 12% power savings for VR workloads
  • Enables development of smaller, lighter, more comfortable untethered VR devices, scaling from HMDs to standard premium mobile displays

Considering that Arm-based chips power 99% of the world’s smartphones today, I often get asked: with all the innovation, what’s still holding the industry back from delivering a true virtual reality (VR) experience? As consumer interest in this space continues to grow, so do the demands on the technology. While desktop solutions have shown what is possible in terms of performance, it still delivers a constrained and tethered experience. Users want to see greater immersion and smoother performance, of course, but from untethered, lighter devices. Yet developing the hardware to meet the performance demand, while maintaining the required efficiency for an untethered experience that consumers crave remains a challenge. At the heart of this challenge is the display, which sets the tone for the VR on devices, from the quality of the visuals to latency.

Enabling VR to be a common part of the user experience on billions of devices worldwide is the long-term goal. Arm is meeting the challenge with the all new Arm® Mali™-D77 display processing unit (DPU) which will take VR to the next level by tackling display challenges head-on.

Less virtual, more reality with all new VR functionality

The brand-new VR acceleration functions we’ve added to Mali-D77 are what sets it apart from other display processors in market. For example, Mali-D77 enables offloading of specific compute functions from GPU to DPU leading to higher quality visuals and eliminating motion sickness, freeing up more GPU cycles and associated system bandwidth. Other Mali-D77 enhanced capabilities include:

  • Lens Distortion Correction (LDC): pre-distorts the images to counter the effect of the lens so that when they are viewed through the lenses of any VR headset they appear correct and undistorted.
  • Chromatic Aberration Correction (CAC): pre-separates the color channels in the opposite direction in order to counteract the blurring effect caused by the lenses of the VR headset.
  • Asynchronous Timewarp (ATW): translates and re-projects the virtual scene based on the latest head pose and position of the headset in the 3D space.

Bandwidth and power savings for consumer-friendly devices

As I mentioned earlier, more consumer-friendly VR devices that are lighter, smaller, untethered, and comfortable will be enabled by the system bandwidth and power consumption savings from the Mali-D77:

  • Up to 40 percent reduction in bandwidth, in typical VR use cases when VR processing and composition happens on Mali-D77.
  • A no-compromise 12 percent power savings for VR workloads, enabling higher quality visuals while freeing up GPU cycles.

A versatile display technology

Beyond VR head-mounted displays (HMDs), the versatile Mali-D77 brings benefits to other devices, displays and use cases. For example, Mali-D77 can be integrated into a common SoC platform with existing developer ecosystems for switching across multiple devices such as a VR HMD to LCD/OLED large or small screens capable of displaying 4K HDR scenes. By doing this, VR devices can become more affordable and accessible to consumers.

A game-changing display technology for VR

Display is the proverbial last mile on the journey to truly untethered and immersive VR experiences. As such, we designed the Mali-D77 with the goal of accelerating this journey for both hardware and software developers to show consumers what’s possible, and turn untethered VR from being a nice-to-have to a must-have.

For more in-depth technical details on Mali-D77, visit our blog.

Supplemental Quote Sheet:

“Panels designed for VR Headsets will be capable of displaying resolutions and frame rates of up to 2Kx2K @90Hz per eye by 2020. Through introducing new VR image processing functions in hardware, Arm Mali-D77 raises the bar in terms of resolution, frame rate and image quality that can be driven towards a VR panel. We are excited about the launch of Arm Mali-D77, and what we see as the start of a closer collaboration between us and Arm.” – Philip Yuan from BOE Technology Group, a global leader in semiconductor display industry.

“The Mali-D77 DPU is exactly the product needed in the market to drive higher resolutions (over 1000ppi) VR displays. Arm and Synaptics are in an early collaboration phase to enable an optimal solution for foveated transport across Mali-GPU, Mali-D77 and Synaptics’ R63455 VR display solution with the ultimate aim of driving higher resolution without increasing the overall cost for future VR devices.” – Jeff Lukanc, senior director of Marketing, Synaptics, a leader in human interface hardware and software.

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Kristen Ray
Director Public Relations, Arm
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