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Mali-G78 Catches Up to Apple GPU

August 17, 2021

Author: Aakash Jani

Apple’s new A14 GPU is blurring the line between PC and mobile performance, as the company employs similar intellectual property (IP) in its laptops and smartphones. But the design offers less of a performance increase than previous generations, allowing Arm- and custom-GPU-based competitors to regain some lost ground. Current flagship processors integrate the Mali-G78, which enables up to twice the throughput of its predecessor, in part by scaling to as many as 24 cores.

In its newest flagship processor, Qualcomm refreshed its Adreno 650 GPU, which debuted in the Snapdragon 865, by making architectural changes to the shader cores and by adding custom accelerators. This combination boosted performance by 35%—not enough to capture the lead from Apple, though. The A14 gained 8%, retaining the throughput lead despite having the smallest GPU. HiSilicon and Samsung employ a stock Arm design that packs smaller and more-numerous cores than custom mobile GPUs to deliver a premium graphics experience. The 24-core Mali-G78 matches Qualcomm in performance but consumes 63% more die area.

For this year’s performance analysis, we used GFXBench’s Aztec Ruins High instead of Car Chase. The new benchmark employs low-level APIs, such as Metal or Vulkan, to stress the shader cores. The previous test relied on a common API that inefficiently utilized the hardware. We also added power numbers to our analysis to assess the efficiency of each design. For Manhattan 3.1, we examined the 1080p Offscreen scores to limit the muddying effects of display processors.

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