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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.

Attribute aliasing

The processes whereby applications are permitted to bind more than one vertex shader attribute name to the same generic vertex attribute index.


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

Display subsystem

The display that a final image is viewed on and the associated software that controls the operation of the display.

Ericsson Texture Compression (ETC)

A 4 bit-per-pixel (bpp) texture compression algorithm.


See OpenGL ES Shading Language.


See Ericsson Texture Compression.

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 driver

A software library implementing OpenGL ES or OpenVG, using graphics accelerator hardware. See also OpenGL ES driver.

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.


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

Mali Developer Tools

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

OpenGL ES driver

On graphics systems that use the OpenGL ES API, the OpenGL ES driver is a specialized driver that controls the graphics hardware.

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.


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.

Performance counter

A register in the processor that is incremented when a certain state is detected in the processor. Performance counter data is represented as performance variables that are displayed in the Performance Analysis Tool.

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.

Performance variable

Data produced by the instrumented OpenGL ES 2.0 Emulator, that can be displayed and analyzed as statistical information in the Performance Analysis Tool.

Red Green Blue Alpha (RGBA)

An implementation of the RGB color model, that includes an Alpha value to indicate opacity. If a fragment has an Alpha value of 0%, it is fully transparent, making it invisible. An Alpha value of 100% results in a fully opaque pixel.


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

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 Developer Tools.

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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