Displays have been one of the fastest moving pieces of mobile technology in the past few years, quickly leaping up from HD to QHDs resolution and we have even see our first 4K mobile display packed into last year’s Xperia Z5 Premium. Today, ARM has launched its Mali-DP650 mobile display processor, which is optimized for the current generation of 2.5K (QHD 2560 x 1440 and WQXGA 2560 x 1600) smartphones and tablets and is ready for tomorrow’s pixel dense 4K (3840 x 2160) panels.

mali-dp650-chip-diagramThe display processor is a key component found inside your smartphone, as it translates the digital content being processed by your phone’s CPU and GPU into a timing format that can be understood by the actual display. ARM doubled the size of its AXI bus in the Mali-DP650 to 128-bits and uses a split display mode to double the available pixel data rate, an efficient way to push through all that pixel data required by higher resolution displays. A variable refresh rate is also available in order to improve energy efficiency, which is especially useful for mobile applications.

“The Mali-DP650 display processor will enable mobile screens with multiple composition layers, for graphics and video, at Full HD (1920×1080 pixels) resolutions and beyond while maintaining excellent picture quality and extending battery life,” – Mark Dickinson, ARM

ARM has also included some nifty extra features with its Mali-DP650 processor, building on the capabilities of the Mali-DP550. The DP650 can handle image rotation, scaling and ARM Frame Buffer Compression (AFBC) tasks itself, which could instead be handled by the GPU, freeing up the workload and reducing energy consumption. The processor is designed to communicate efficiently with ARM’s CoreLink MMU-500, to achieve up to a 4K resolution at 60 fps. ARM still recommends its Mali-DP550 for HD (1280 x 720) and Full HD (1920 x 1080) devices.

Debate still rages about whether or not it’s actually worth squashing a 4K display into a smartphone form factor, but ARM is pretty keen on the idea of enabling users to push content from mobile devices onto larger external displays, sort of like a portable hard drive for your TV. The DP650’s improved support for 4K displays could make it a prime candidate for inclusion in future Android tablets looking to provide a 4K HDMI output.

Robert Triggs
Lead Technical Writer at Android Authority, covering the latest trends in consumer electronics and hardware. In his spare moments, you'll probably find him tinkering with audio electronics and programming.
  • ConCal

    Can we all agree that for 2016 4k displays on phones make no sense.

    • Kiss my Asthma

      Even though I would love to have it, I agree that it needs a few more years.

    • RiTCHiE

      4k on phones is retarded in any year bro unless you have a phablet

    • Real_SteveJobs_TheWalkingDead

      For most instances yes. But for virtual reality, 4K will definitely be necessary. Somehow, VR always seems to be forgotten when talking about 4K for mobile devices.

      • mobilemann

        no, it’s not that. It’s just that in current VR on arm implementations, the phones already aren’t using their native resolutions due to gpu power limitations, so bumping this to 4k is just going to make the situation that much worse.

        This is pretty obvious. The min GPU for an occulous is a 970. There is NO REASON. NONE. WHATSOEVER.

        • Real_SteveJobs_TheWalkingDead

          I wasn’t talking to you. Mind your business.

          • mobilemann

            this is basic shit man. Sorry to burst your bubble.

          • Real_SteveJobs_TheWalkingDead

            Again, burst your own bubble and mind your business.

          • mobilemann

            sorry to correct you spreading mis information again. See you next time you post something stupid.

          • Real_SteveJobs_TheWalkingDead

            Nothing I said was mis information. Especially when three other people agree with me as opposed to the one upvote you probably gave yourself through one of your other accounts. Why wait until I post something when all you have to do is look in the mirror to see something stupid each and every time. Now beat it stupid.

        • enloquecido

          My note 5 would benefit from a 4k display when using gear VR. It is only going to be displaying 2 x 1080p images on the screen so the workload isn’t that bad, but currently the subpixels are visible and that is the one case where 4k makes sense, even if it was being upscaled. It would improve the quality substantially.

          • mobilemann

            it doesn’t render at native resolution presently, or you wouldn’t have half the issue now.

        • Steven Fox

          There are still some sensible manufacturers like Huawei who don`t feel the need to ad 2K or more screen resolution to their devices, instead focusing on better colour gamut and Contrast, which in the end is more important.
          I`m expecting the S7 or perhaps the Note 6 to come with a 4K display as well, but you won`t notice the difference, but your battery definitely will.

          • mobilemann

            holy reasonable comment batman.

    • Svnjay

      Z5 Premium proves otherwise.

      • ConCal

        No… It didn’t.

    • Asmodai

      As the article notes there is increasing demand to have phones output display information to external displays. So sure it may not make sense to have a 4k display on the phone itself it DOES make sense to have a Digital Processor on the phone that is capable of 4k so you can stream your 4k video content to your TV or monitor. Also devices like Amazon’s Fire TV, nVidia Shield, and the Nexus Player all use ARM mobile CPU’s and don’t have screens at all but may well be connected to 4k TVs.

      • ConCal

        That’s why I said, “displays on phones” make no sense.

  • Danny

    4k displays would be a major battery drain and who knows if the cpu supports 4k resolution natively. Also that would mean more 4k content will have to be available to take full advantage of the display.

  • Avieshek Rajkhowa

    Waiting for Z6

  • Avieshek Rajkhowa

    Year 2020: 8k resolution

    Don’t worry, can still be used in Android TVs like Sony or enhance the current state of DSLRs, but ‘m suprised when my laptop can’t do 4k when playing YouTube videos.