ARM eyes virtual reality with new chips

Lynsey Barber
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ritish chipmaker ARM is eyeing up the burgeoning market for virtual reality with the launch of new chips that will support more high end graphics and greater processing power of the devices which use smartphones.

The Mali-G71 boasts graphics performance better than some of those found in today's mid-range laptops, while the Cortex-A73 will boost the power of smartphones, including 30 per cent more efficient battery power. HiSilicon, MediaTek and Samsung Electronics are among those to have already licensed the technology.

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"The smartphone is the world's most ubiquitous compute device, offering experiences that improve with each new product generation. In 2017, we will see devices with the Cortex-A73 and Mali-G71 processors that stand out thanks to their impressive and sustained performance, and even more stunning visuals. This technology can make engaging with 4K video, virtual reality and augmented reality an everyday experience on a mobile device," said ARM's product boss Pete Hutton.

Many of the world's biggest technology companies are working on virtual realty devices, however, the race is on among chip makers to create the chips which can support them.

Some 9.66m virtual reality devices are expected to ship this year, according to analysts IDC, worth more than $2bn and growing to 110 million units by 2020.

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"It's basic math - the sheer number of smartphones in the world is already double PCs and rising, which makes it the single most important device for accelerating VR gaming adoption," said Clive Downie, marketing chief at Unity Technologies, a gaming development platform.

"ARM is making smart investments that move the mobile VR and AR ecosystems forward. By creating more efficient and powerful technology solutions for mobile they are helping push the boundaries of what is possible in the virtual world and everyone will benefit."

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