ARM wants to power the next-gen VR-ready smartphones with new chips

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ARM has seen the future of smartphones and believes with all certainty that it will involve virtual reality. That’s why its new central processor and graphics processor, shown off at Computex 2016, are built to offer power and efficiency in compact packages, in order to bring as many people into VR as possible.

The first chip it has at the stands this year is the Cortex-A73, an evolution of its A72 mobile processor, that brings with it a number of impressive improvements. For starters, it’s 30 percent more powerful right off of the bat, which is far more of an improvement between generations than your average desktop processor.

Perhaps more importantly though, it’s also 30 percent more efficient, which should help keep smartphones running for longer between charges. The A73 is also built on a 10nm FinFET design, making it the smallest chip ARM has ever put out there as well.

Related: ‘Project Arena’ isn’t just an amazing ‘Tron’ tribute, it could be VR’s first eSport

As big an improvement over its predecessor as the new mainstream processor is though, ARM’s new graphics chip is even more impressive.

Known as the Mali-G71, the graphics processing unit (GPU) is said to be 50 percent more capable than its last-generation equivalent and yet is 20 percent more energy efficient. To make it even less of an energy hog, the G71 can even be paired up with lower-powered GPUs and only brought to bear when needed (thanks Engadget).

The big VR focus with this hardware though is that the G71 is capable of outputting frames with just 4ms of latency, massively reducing the potential for nausea in a virtual environment. It’s also capable of outputting 4K resolutions at up to a 120Hz refresh rate, which again will really help make VR a comfortable experience for people.

The speed with which smartphones are developing and the fact that nearly everyone owns them, is why ARM is pushing hard for smartphone-based virtual reality. It believes that this is the first point where people will contact the new virtual medium, and when these chips eventually launch sometime in 2017, we may well see a lot of people powering their VR experiences with ARM processors.

Already we’re being told that ARM has over 100 partners interested in using the new hardware, suggesting that ARM may be set for a very positive next couple of years.


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