Rockchip RK3288 - What can we expect?
The RK3288 is a rather exciting product. When Rockchip released the RK3066 this was perhaps the first time a Chinese chip really not just caught up to last generation mainstream chips from big silicon designers like Samsung, but actually surpassed mainstream powerhouse chips like the then Tegra 3.
The RK3188, on the other hand, was a bit of a letdown as I believe the community was expecting the 28 nm die-shrink and two extra cores to result in the same massive leap as what we saw when going from the RK2918 to the RK3066. However the RK3188 was hampered by never achieving the promised 1.8 Ghz clockspeed, the same slow storage access speeds, and pretty much minimal if any increase in graphics performance. That being said, the RK3188 was and is a very good chip unto itself and perhaps more of an evolutionary advancement over the RK3066 if not the leap we had all hoped for. The die-shrink from the power-hungry 40 nm processed used on the RK3066 to a bleeding edge 28 nm did yield a massive increase in power efficiency. The RK3188 is therefore perhaps the most power-efficient chip currently available out of China. Futhermore, the extra 2 cores did smooth out and speed up overall performance significantly. Power efficiency improvements and faster web page load times, boot times, and app loads though are usually subtle and while greatly appreciated by the end user, often overlooked in reviews. All of the above being said, I think we are in for another big LEAP in performance with the RK3288, much like what we saw with the RK3066.
The above leaked chart tells the story. We are looking at nearly a 500% increase in overall graphics performance and a cpu core performance increase of 50%. The massive increase in GPU performance was long overdue. UPDATE: Based on some other information I have come across I am fairly certain the Mail-T7xx part shown in the chart above is incorrect (perhaps intentional?). I am pretty certain the final part is going to be a Mali-T624. The performance numbers shown however should be accurate for a T-624 part so we are definitely getting a huge performance bump over the RK3188 and it should be very competitive with other contemporary chipsets if not quite the exotically new technology we would have gotten had they really snagged a T-7xx chip.GPU. I am curious to find out how it will stack up against the PowerVR G6x part rumored to be used in the new Allwinner A80 SoC. The T624 is a 2nd generation Midgard part from ARM and has significantly more grunt than the T-604 used in the Samsung Exynos 5250 (Google Nexus 10 SoC).
Aside from just increased performance, 3rd generation Midgard parts bring quite a bit more to the table.
The Mali-T series was ARM's first move into what is called a unified shader architecture. Rather than having separated specialized CU's (compute units, I think this is the right term...) for triangles crunching and other CU's for pixel painting, a unified shader architecture uses a more efficient core design that does both (and calls them shaders...). This is a major advance that has been present in discreet graphics chips on Desktop computers for years but has only just started making its way into mobile. Aside from this major architecture change, Midgard also brings support for OpenGL ES 3.0 (read more advanced and specialized FX in games) AND support for Microsoft DirectX 11 (read more game titles due to better cross support between android and other platforms like windows and Xbox.).
Finally, on top of the increased performance and smorgasbord of new features, the Mali-T76x GPU line is reputed to be 400% more energy efficient than the Mali-T604!
That's all just the new Mali hardware... I haven't even gotten into the advantages of Cortex-A12!