Reverse-engineering the Mali G78

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2021-07-21 23:30:02

After a month of reverse-engineering, we’re excited to release documentation on the Valhall instruction set, available as a PDF. The findings are summarized in an XML architecture description for machine consumption. In tandem with the documentation, we’ve developed a Valhall assembler and disassembler as a reverse-engineering aid.

Valhall is the fourth Arm® Mali™ architecture and the fifth Mali instruction set. It is implemented in the Arm® Mali™-G78, the most recently released Mali hardware, and Valhall will continue to be implemented in Mali products yet to come.

Each architecture represents a paradigm shift from the last. Midgard generalizes the Utgard pixel processor to support compute shaders by unifying the shader stages, adding general purpose memory access, and supporting integers of various bit sizes. Bifrost scalarizes Midgard, transitioning away from the fixed 4-channel vector (vec4) architecture of Utgard and Midgard to instead rely on warp-based execution for parallelism, better using the hardware on modern workloads. Valhall linearizes Bifrost, removing the Very Long Instruction Word mechanisms of its predecessors. Valhall replaces the compiler’s static scheduling with hardware dynamic scheduling, trading additional control hardware for higher average performance. That means padding with “no operation” instructions is no longer required, which may decrease code size, promising better instruction cache use.

All information in this post and the linked PDF and XML is published in good faith and for general information purpose only. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information you find here, is strictly at your own risk. We are not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with the use of this information.

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