The current generation of smartwatches is not particularly worried about graphics, with most manufacturers instead looking to capitalise on lifestyle features. ARM is looking to change that with the new Mali-470 GPU, which promises smartphone quality graphics on your wrist.
ARM’s Mali-470 mainly brings improvements to power efficiency, allowing it to work on wearable devices without reducing battery life. ARM says that the GPU has half the power consumption of the Mali-400; while also being 10-percent smaller. Performance should be about the same, and is aimed at displays with a resolution of 640 x 640.
One might question the need for fancy graphics on a smartwatch, but it could go quite a long way to making the interface a lot more interesting to look at. The Mali-470 supports OpenGL ES 2.0, and uses the same driver stack as the Mali-400. No re-optimising will need to be done to port apps over to the new GPU, and it should make it easier for developers to work with it.
No manufacturer has announced that they will be using the Mali-470 yet, and ARM does not expect its new GPU to begin shipping until 2016. This could be the start of a new race for better graphics on smartwatches and other wearables.