ARM to beef up 2017 smartphones’ virtual and augmented reality capabilities

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Smartphones are set to get a VR and AR capability boost in 2017, with ARM announcing its new graphics processing unit and processor.

Nearly all smartphones on the market are powered by ARM processors, and performance of devices has increased 100 x since 2009.

To make way for the advent of widespread adoption of VR - where smartphones will be required to run higher quality graphics, for longer - it’s released a new suite of premium IP which it says will redefine AR and VR experiences on mobile devices.

Samsung’s already taken a licence for ARM’s new Mail-G71 graphics processor, which is even better than many in mid-range laptops. Underpinning this is ARM’s third generation graphics processing unit architecture, Bitfrost, which is optimised for Vulkan and other industry standard APIs.

ARM has also released a Cortex-A73 processor which includes a higher performance power efficiency in smartphones. Both releases will allow devices to run high-resolution content for longer.

According to Pete Hutton, executive vice president and president, product groups at ARM, devices will be using the Cortex-A73 and Mali-G71 processors from next year, making the use of 4K video, VR and AR an “everyday experience” on mobiles.

Game Engine Unity recently released an ARM guide for VR developers. Its chief marketing officer Clive Downie said the investment in greater tech capabilities for AR and VR is “basic math”.

"The sheer number of smartphones in the world is already double PCs and rising, which makes it the single most important device for accelerating VR gaming adoption.

"ARM is making smart investments that move the mobile VR and AR ecosystems forward. By creating more efficient and powerful technology solutions for mobile they are helping push the boundaries of what is possible in the virtual world and everyone will benefit,” he said.

ARM’s latest releases aren’t just for smartphones however, and can be used on large screen computers devices, in-vehicle infotainment and smart TVs.

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