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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.

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.


See OpenGL ES Shading Language.

Fragment shader

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

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 Demo Engine

The Mali Demo Engine is a component of the Mali Developer Tools. The Mali Demo Engine library enables you to develop 3D graphics applications more easily than using OpenGL ES 2.0 alone.

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 Developer Tools.

Mali Developer Tools

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

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 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.

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.


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.

Shader Library

A set of shader examples and other related information, designed to assist with developing shader programs for the Mali GPUs. 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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