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Mediatek MT6589 Brings Quad Core Cortex A7 to Low-End And Mid-End Android Smartphones

December 12, 2012 - Written By Lucian Armasu

Next year is going to be the year of Cortex A7 for low-end devices and Cortex A15 for high-end devices, and it seems Mediatek is well prepared to take on at least one of that market, which is also the market they’ve been dominating so far – the low-end market in Asia. With this MT6589 chip that uses a  quad core Cortex A7, they will be able to bring better than Qualcomm S4 performance, into low-end and mid-end smartphones.

Cortex A7 is not meant as a successor for either Cortex A8 or A9 though, and it should not be mistaken for one. It’s a successor for Cortex A5, which was the first ARMv7 successor for ARM11 (ARMv6). But nobody really used A5, except Qualcomm in a few phones recently, probably because it came too late to the market and just before Cortex A7 was about to appear, and because it offered very little improvement over ARM11, and manufacturers preferred to just extend the life of ARM11, which is in virtually all low-end phones today.

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But Cortex A7 will probably replace all ARM11’s in new low-end phones, whether it will come in single core, dual core or quad core versions like this chip here.  Cortex A7 is 5x smaller in size at 28m than the 45nm Cortex A8, while giving about the same performance as a Cortex A8 (found in the Galaxy S flagship in 2010). So it’s a weaker core, but it’s more powerful than what low-end phones have right now, and that’s what it’s meant for, not for Android flagships, except as being used as low-end cores for big.Little chips, that will also arrive next year.

It will also finally bring low-end phones (at least the new ones coming out in 2013) to the ARMv7 architecture, which means these phones should support Chrome for Android, and some other apps that have started to ignore the ARMv6 architecture.

The Mediatek MT6589 comes with a PowerVR5XT GPU, which I think is unfortunate, as it could’ve used the ARM Mali 450, a GPU that is as powerful as the overclocked Mali400 in Galaxy S3, but a lot cheaper and meant for the mass-market, which would’ve been perfect for this SoC. The SoC also comes integrated with Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-fi 802.11n, and support for 13 MP cameras, and 1080p video playback.

We might not see it in the very low-end phones such as those sub-$100 smartphones or tablets that are getting popular in Africa and India (those will probably use only single core or dual core Cortex A7 chips), but we’ll probably see it in many devices over the $100 mark. Combine this with Jelly Bean, and even price sensitive customers will benefit from a great Android experience starting with next year.