ARM Introduces Egil Video Processor: 4K 120 Hz the Top!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: ARM

ARM Releases Egil Specs

The final product that ARM showed us at that Austin event is the latest video processing unit that will be integrated into their Mali GPUs.  The Egil video processor is a next generation unit that will be appearing later this year with the latest products that utilize Mali GPUs up and down the spectrum.  It is not tied to the latest G71 GPU, but rather can be used with a multitude of current Mali products.

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Video is one of the biggest usage cases for modern SOCs in mobile devices.  People constantly stream and record video from their handhelds and tablets, and there are some real drawbacks in current video processor products from a variety of sources.  We have seen the amazing increase in pixel density on phones and tablets and the power draw to render video effectively on these products has gone up.  We have also seen the introduction of new codecs that require a serious amount of processing capabilities to decode.

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Egil is a scalable product that can go from one core to six.  A single core can display video from a variety of codecs at 1080P and up to 80 fps.  The six core solution can play back 4K video at 120 Hz.  This is assuming that the Egil processor is produced on a 16nm FF process or smaller and running at 800 MHz.  This provides a lot of flexibility with SOC manufacturers that allows them to adequately tailor their products for specific targets and markets.

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The cores themselves are fixed function blocks with dedicated controllers and control logic.  Previous video processors were more heavy on the decode aspects rather than encode.  Now that we have more pervasive streaming from mobile devices and cameras/optics that can support higher resolutions and bitrates, ARM has redesigned Egil to offer extensive encoding capabilities.  Not only does it add this capability, but it enhances it by not only decoding at 4K but being able to encode four 1080p30 streams at the same time.

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Egil will eventually find its way into other products such as TVs.  These custom SOCs will be even more important as 4K playback and media become more common plus potential new functionality that has yet to be implemented effectively on TVs.  For the time being we will likely see this in mobile first, with the initial products hitting the market in the second half of 2016.

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ARM is certainly on a roll this year with introducing new CPU, GPU, and now video processors.  We will start to see these products being introduced throughout the end of this year and into the next.  The company certainly has not been resting or letting potential competitors get the edge on them.  Their products are always focused on consuming low amounts of power, but the potential performance looks to satisfy even power hungry users in the mobile and appliance markets.  Egil is another solid looking member to the lineup that brings some impressive performance and codec support for both decoding and encoding.

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June 16, 2016 | 10:32 AM - Posted by willmore

I like the move to more programmable video codec engines, but I fear this is going to be one more binary blob dependency to make life in embedded systems even less pleasant.

What ARM really needs is to get their customers to get smarter with how they distribute the SoC specific blobs. Stop changing the kernel ABI so much, maybe? Please?

June 16, 2016 | 01:23 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

When you add this new IP addition along with ARM Holdings' new Mali/Bifrost GPU Micro-architecture then there is going to be much API/ABI rewriting! That Bifrost GPU Micro-architecture marks a sea change for ARM holdings' Mail GPU, one that forgoes instruction level parallelism towards the thread level parallelism and GPU processor thread level/thread "clause" level of preemption and asynchronous compute on the GPU. The Mali/Egil processor functional blocks are going to be optimized towards working with better power gating features so the ABI's/firmware are going to need to be updated also.

So the entire firmware and software API/ABI stacks are probably going to be in for even a more drastic change as ARM holdings brings this new GPU/Decoder IP online for its clients. Even the A73's core design Micro-architecture has some interesting differences on the CPU side, so more changes are ahead for all of ARM's software/firmware/driver stacks.

Hopefully ARM holdings has made the proper extensible API/ABI interfaces to allow for as little legacy usage disruptions with its transitioning over to its latest technology, but usually there is some pain all around while things are transitioned over to the new technology.

June 16, 2016 | 02:57 PM - Posted by willmore

We've already had different kernel ABIs for each and every different GPU (even for ones with differing numbers of 'cores'). So, that's not something that would be surprising with Bifrost. What I'm talking about is that they'll change the kernel ABI with versions of the driver *for the same chip* and even on the same kernel version.

And those are normally ancient kernels, but that's another complaint.

June 16, 2016 | 05:06 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The Egil Video Processor is going to be part of the Mali GPU offerings anyways so it should be included with the GPU driver/firmware binaries. This ARM ABI changing you speak of, is it really from ARM Holdings or is it from the Licensee that made the SOC, embedded SOC/CPU. There are so many licensees and so much third party IP that is integrated with the ARM Holdings CPU core designs, and GPU designs.

ARM Holdings offers so many different on SOC die IP blocks to go along with their CPU core reference designs, and there is so much semi-custom work being done among the licensees and whatever ARM Holdings IP that the licensee can use, and even other non ARM holdings third party SOC IP that a licensee can utilize, and some ARM core licensees add their own SOC IP into the total mix and things can become very custom from one makers products to another.

The propitary/kernel ABI Blobs and driver blobs are part of the equation for hardware from most SOC/GPU/other processor/IP makers. And SOCs that may use the very same ARM refrence CPU core designs but can have very different products at the finished SKU stage, depending on what actual IP blocks where added on the Licensee's SOC offerings.

June 17, 2016 | 05:09 AM - Posted by Mobile_Dom

Are you incapable of just saying ARM? I know that it's technically ARM holdings, but still, it's just suuuuuuuuuuper weird seeing ARM Holdings everytime.

June 17, 2016 | 04:28 PM - Posted by mikesheadroomlive

Perhaps we could see this product in a successor to the Steam Link, offering 4K 60Hz decoding? That would be sweet.

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