It appears that 4K fever has struck with a vengeance in the desktop monitor and television sectors as the “Next Big Thing.” 4K displays are even bubbling up in the notebook market with devices like the Dell XPS 15 and Samsung ATIV Book 9 Pro. But what about 4K displays in smartphones? While most would agree that it’s overkill, Sony’s Xperia Z5 Premium can playback videos and display pictures in 4K (it defaults to 1080p resolution for all other content to conserve battery life).
ARM is betting on 4K becoming a much bigger deal in the smartphone and tablet markets, which is why it has pulled the wraps off its Mali-DP650 mobile display processor. ARM says that the chip is optimized or 2.5K displays (i.e., 2560x1440 and 2560x1600), but also supports 4K display resolutions (3840x2160). And the Mali-DP650 isn’t just capable of handling on-device 4K content, but it can also stream compliant content to an external 4K-capable monitor or television. The ability to stream 4K content comes in handy for a smartphone that perhaps “only” has a 1080p display, but has a camera that is capable of capturing 4K video content.
"Smartphones and tablets are increasingly becoming content passports, allowing people to securely download content once and carry it to view on whichever screen is most suitable,” said Mark Dickinson, ARM’s GM for the Media Processing Group. “The ability to stream the best quality content from a mobile device to any screen is an important capability ARM Mali display technology delivers."
The Mali-DP650 supports seven display layer composition, and has doubled its AXI bus to 128-bits compared to its Mali-DP550 predecessor, allowing it to better tolerate higher memory subsystem latencies. In addition, when paired with the ARM CoreLink MMU-500, the Mali-DP650 is capable of outputting 4K content at up to 60fps.
At this time, we have no announcement from ARM regarding when the Mali-DP650 will be available in production SoCs. With that being said, we have the feeling that there’s not exactly a rush to deliver 4K smartphone displays to consumers at this time; at least not until battery technology greatly improves.