January 20, 2016
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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.
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