27.02.2017 2:56

Adreno or Mali: What is Better?

The main processor architecture for smartphones is ARM, created and maintained by the same company. Most chipsets for mobile devices created on the basis of its development, but the approach is different. Some companies are licensed ready-made solutions, and some create their own based on them. Therefore, the market had the opposition of basic and custom architectures for CPU and GPU.

The basic solution by ARM, this graphics processor cores and Mali. They are used by most chipmakers: MediaTek, Samsung, Spreadtrum, Nvidia. But Qualcomm is going its own way. Kryo custom kernel used in its high-end chipsets, and graphics Adreno own design equipped with all the chips Snapdragon.

What is better – Adreno or Mali? To answer this question unequivocally as to decide whose graphics chips, Nvidia’s and AMD (by the way, is the last division of the Adreno owned, pre-foreclosure Qualcomm in 2009), it is better for the desktop PC. The fact that it depends on the situation and the specific problems which may prove superiority as one or the other side. However, we will try to weigh all the pros and cons Adreno and Mali, to decide what is still better for them together.

Pros and cons of Adreno


  • High performance. Theoretical maximum performance graphics Adreno higher than Mali, chipset mounted in the same class. Thus, in the Snapdragon 625 processing power Adreno 506 is about 130 Gflops (billion floating-point calculations per second), but in its rival MTK Helio P10 with GP Mali T860 Mp2 – 47 Gflops.
  • Support for newer API. Chips current generation Adreno have a larger set of API (the software developer tools), and their newer versions. Thus, the Adreno 500 series, released over a year ago, support Vulkan, OpenCL 2.0, DirectX12, Open GL ES 3.2. But in Mali support DirectX12 yet, but OpenCL appeared only in the G series in 2016, which was published at the end of 2017.
  • Less tendency to overheat. Adreno GPUs on average less likely to overheat than Mali. In the arsenal of Qualcomm had multiple processors, are prone to enter the throttling, but it was the most powerful chipsets in which the CPU core and different hot temper. Yes, and in a mode of reduced performance are not really behind (if at all lagged) by competitors.


  • Expensive. Develop your own graphics Qualcomm manages more than pay for licensing ARM Mali competitors. Therefore, the American company chipsets are more expensive than the same MTK.
  • Worst optimization software. About 20% of all smartphones sold in the world – Samsung, use the graphics Mali. Huawei in its stock Kirin also implement GP from ARM. Also, the use of someone else, but the ARM graphics and refused to MediaTek. As a result, the proportion of Mali on the market longer, and game developers optimize them in the first place, to Mali. As a result, fewer GFLOPS, real Mali chips in the budget and mid-level not far behind Adreno games.
  • Smaller Fillrate in rendering. In chip Adreno domain texturing (Responsibility for the formation of the final image) relatively weak. Adreno 530 is able to render 600 million triangles (of which formed 3D-images) per second, Mali G71 – 850 million.

Pros and cons of Mali

Adreno or Mali: What is Better?


  • The prevalence. Since Mali graphics is a “reference” for smartphones chipsets, and play under it optimizes better than under the Adreno.
  • Low price. The license to produce chipsets with Mali is relatively cheap. Therefore, even small companies without billions of dollars of investment, can enjoy the release of chips with Mali, thus spurring competition and stimulating ARM company to develop new solutions. And Mali costs as a result of cheaper for graphics users.
  • High clock speeds. Mali graphics processors operate at frequencies up to 1 GHz, while the maximum frequency of the opponent – 650 MHz model in Adreno 530. Due to the frequency of Mali chips will be better to go games that support multithreading worse 3D.
  • Powerful rendering domain. Masthead GP Mali G71 is able to render up to 850 million triangles per second, or 27 billion individual pixels (Adreno 530 – total 8 billion). As a result, it is better suited for rendering graphics with HD-textures in high definition.


  • Less shader cores. In Mali GPUs shader cores is less than that of a competitor. In Mali and a smaller maximum performance Gflops, and adaptability to the worst games, able to efficiently parallelize the load on the GPU.
  • Limited configuration. By themselves, Mali GPUs is not particularly inferior Adreno (which proves that Samsung Galaxy S7 with Mali T880 MP12). However, in practice manufacturers use ready-made solutions are simpler, with a small number of computer clusters. For example, Mali T720 can contain up to 8 units, but is most common Mali T720 MP2, with only two clusters.
  • The tendency to overheat. Due to the high clock frequencies Mali solutions are more versatile, but a side effect becomes heated. It was he, in particular, prevents a large number of embedded graphics compute clusters in the chipset.


To decide what is best, or the Adreno Mali, we reduce all important parameters into a table, and calculate, at any of the GP more benefits.

Index Adreno Mali
Price +
Theoretical GP +
Performance rendering domain +
Clock frequency +
API Support +
Optimization software +
Heat +

As the comparison shows, on the side of Adreno – more powerful computing units, better support for new technologies, fewer problems with heating. But Mali is taking accessibility, powerful rendering domain, clock frequency and popularity, thanks to software optimization which is, first of all, under the GP. However, it is a theory.

In reality, the budget and the initial average level of Mali look preferable, but a solid middle class (as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 65x and above) and flagship – a lot Adreno. And there is nothing surprising in this, because the schedule is now difficult to be separated from the chipset, part of which it is. Therefore, in general, the SoC market is the same alignment of forces.

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