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This glossary describes some of the terms used in ARM manuals. Where terms can have several meanings, the meaning presented here is intended.


See Application Programming Interface.

Application Programming Interface (API)

A specification for a set of procedures, functions, data structures, and constants that are used to interface two or more software components together. For example, an API between an operating system and the application programs that use it might specify exactly how to read data from a file.

COLLAborative Design Activity (COLLADA) files

Open-standard XML files that describe digital assets. COLLADA files are compatible with many graphics applications.


See COLLAborative Design Activity (COLLADA) files.


A debugging system that includes a program, used to detect, locate, and correct software faults, together with custom hardware that supports software debugging.


See OpenGL ES Shading Language.

Fragment shader

A program running on the pixel processor that calculates the color and other characteristics of each fragment.


A memory buffer containing a complete frame of graphical data.


See Graphics Processor Unit.

Graphics application

A custom program that runs on the platform CPU and uses the Mali GPU to display graphics.

Graphics Processor Unit (GPU)

A hardware accelerator for graphics systems using OpenGL ES and OpenVG. The hardware accelerator comprises of an optional geometry processor and a pixel processor together with memory management. Mali programmable GPUs, such as the Mali-200 and Mali-400 MP GPUs, consist of a geometry processor and at least one pixel processor. Mali fixed-function GPUs, such as the Mali-55 GPU consist of a pixel processor only.

Instrumented drivers

Alternative graphics drivers that are used with the Mali GPU. The Instrumented drivers include additional functionality such as error logging and recording performance data files for use by the Performance Analysis Tool.

See Also Performance Analysis Tool.


A name given to graphics software and hardware products from ARM that aid 2D and 3D acceleration.

Mali Binary Assets

The Mali Binary Assets file format provides an optimized binary representation of a 3D scene for loading into the Mali Demo Engine Library.

Mali Demo Engine Library

A C++ class framework for developing OpenGL ES 2.0 applications for the Mali GPU. The Mali Demo Engine Library is a component of the Mali GPU Developer Tools.

Mali GPU Binary Asset Exporter

A converter tool for Windows that converts XML-based COLLADA documents to the Mali Binary Assets format for use with the Mali GPU Demo Engine. The Mali GPU Binary Assets Exporter is a component of the Mali GPU Developer Tools.

Mali GPU Demo Engine

The Mali Demo Engine is a component of the Mali GPU Developer Tools.

Mali GPU Developer Tools

A set of development programs that enables software developers to create graphic applications.

Mali GPU Performance Analysis Tool

A fully-customizable GUI tool that displays and analyzes performance data files produced by the Instrumented drivers, together with framebuffer information.

See Also Instrumented drivers, Performance data file.

Mali GPU Shader Library

A set of shader examples, tutorials, and other information, designed to assist with developing shader programs for the Mali GPU. The Shader Library is a component of the Mali GPU Developer Tools.

Offline Shader Compiler

A a command line tool that translates vertex shaders and fragment shaders written in the ESSL into binary vertex shaders and binary fragment shaders that you can link and run on the Mali GPU.

OpenGL ES Shading Language (ESSL)

A programming language used to create custom shader programs that can be used within a programmable pipeline, on graphics hardware. You can also use pre-defined library shaders, written in ESSL.

Performance data file

Files that contain a description of the performance counters, together with the performance counter data in the form of a series of values and images. Performance data files are saved in .ds2 format and can be loaded directly into the Performance Analysis Tool.


A pixel is a discrete element that forms part of an image on a display. The word pixel is derived from the term Picture Element.


A program, usually an application program, running on the GPU, that calculates some aspect of the graphical output. See fragment shader and vertex shader.

Vertex shader

A program running on the geometry processor, that calculates the position and other characteristics, such as color and texture coordinates, for each vertex.

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