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MediaTek Dreams Big With New Octa-Core Processor, Plans to Take on Qualcomm LTE Chipsets

February 11, 2014 - Written By Syed Sofian Rabbani

Our dependence on smartphones and tablet devices cannot be understated. With the advent of premium flagship devices for those with the ‘big-bucks’ spending capacity, a large segment of the populace has been left out to the mediocre and low-end devices. A major cost – and performance factor – which differentiates these devices – are the processors that power them up. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon series of SoC (system-on-chip) which powers most flagships and high-end devices have become a household name. For the remaining medium to low-end devices, OEMs prefer chipsets from the Taiwanese manufacturer – MediaTek – especially on account of their lower costs.

MediaTek chipsets have delivered a reasonable performance so far in the devices from low-cost OEMs, especially the local players Micromax, Lava Mobiles and Xolo – especially in the South and South-East Asian region – including India. The chipset manufacturer, at present, does not have a stronghold in the US and European countries. However, MediaTek has definitely started to dream big – back in December last year, the Taiwanese chipset maker had announced the “world’s first” true octa-core CPU (which consisted of eight Cortex-A7 cores capable of running simultaneously).

In the latest news from the MediaTek camp, the chipset manufacturer would start sampling a new octa-core chip which would contain four 2.2 – 2.5 GHz A17 cores as well as four 1.7 GHz Cortex-A7 cores with a Rogue PowerVR Series6 GPU. It is important to note that ARM has recently launched the Cortex-A17 technology which provides a 60 percent improvement in performance over the current A7s and A9s. However, the Cortex-A17 I designed to work on improving the performance of mid-range smartphone and tablet devices.

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However, MediaTek aims to put this new chipset – going by the nomenclature MT6595 – into the latest premium smartphone devices; which position them directly in competition with Qualcomm Snapdragons’ 800 and 805 series (which are the current OEM favorites for flagship devices). The MediaTek MT6595 SoC is by no means a true-Octa core chipset but is rather based on ARM’big.LITTLE architecture, which means that all eight cores would fire up for processor intensive tasks like heavy games, whereas the lower processing power would suffice for mundane routine activities. This methodology is designed to avoid excessive battery drain under normal performance situations.

An additional aspect of the MT6595 is the availability of LTE system-on-chip, as well as an H.265 UltraHD Codec which would allow the device to record 4K2K video recording and playback capabilities. However, though these features are present on the chip, device manufacturers always have the option of being selective in enabling certain features. As per MediaTek, the chips will be sampled out to device manufacturer in the first half of this year, and we can expect the first devices to ship out during the year-end.

Mediatek is banking its fortunes on the MT6595 to gain a strong foothold in the US and Global market. 2014 could turn out to be a big year for the Taiwanese chipset manufacturer, already Samsung and HTC have signed on deals to use MediaTek chipsets in their products planned for this year. In the meantime, do let us know whether you’re excited to see LTE capable chipsets in the low-end devices as well? Our comment section awaits.