Has the 4K trend really reached the mobile industry? Well, yes and no, depending on what you mean. It might still be a while before something like the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium becomes commonplace, but dealing with 4K content, especially videos, is going to become more regular. That is why ARM is announcing early a new mobile graphics chip, the Mali-DP650, that is designed from the get go to handle 4K content, not only on a device’s screen itself but streaming to an external display as well.
That streaming use case seems to be ARM’s 4K focus, at least for now. While this new Mali GPU is definitely capable of pushing that much pixels on the local display, cramming 3840×2160 pixels on a small screen, even a tablet, doesn’t have practical benefits just yet.
That, of course, doesn’t mean we can’t view those stunning 4K images and videos on other screens. With many smartphones today capable of recording 4K video, our smartphones become home to such high resolution content that is best displayed on a large, high resolution screen, like a 4K TV, for example. Therein lies the Mali-DP650’s core talent in streaming 4K content from a mobile device to a TV. This juggling of the device’s native resolution and the external display’s own resolution, plus the variable refresh rates between the two, is what ARM is boasting about on the DP650.
The GPU is naturally able to handle different resolutions but it is optimized for a “2.5K” format, which means WQXGA (2560×1600) on tablets and WQHD (2560×1440) on smartphones, but also Full HD (1920×1080) for slightly lower end devices.
ARM has not yet announced release schedules for the Mali-DP650 or which chips will be the first to incorporate its split-display mode feature.