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For a long time now, MediaTek’s CPUs have been found in budget-minded devices throughout Asia and emerging markets. First of all we had the quad-core MT6589 CPU, and now the MT6592 octa-core CPU is appearing in device after device when launched in Asia. This isn’t a bad thing overall, their processors are decent enough and they keep the cost of these devices down. However, as I know full well after writing it a million times, MediaTek devices often come with a years out-of-date version of Android, thanks to their lack of being open with their OEM partners and the community on the whole.
As the GPL states, the company has a responsibility to release code to their partner OEMs, like Xiaomi, Sony and even HTC. However, it’s been reported a number of times that the kernel sources given to OEMs is either so poorly cobbled together, or missing proprietary binary drivers or headers that OEM partners struggle to update their own devices to the latest version of Android. MediaTek however, is vowing to change this as XDA’s own OEM Relations Manager had a chance to talk with MediaTek and their changing ways.
Speaking at Computex 2014, MediaTek detailed a new initiative dubbed “MediaTek Labs”, which will soon launch with an online presence that has SDKs, HDKs and more for OEMs to better build products and software around MediaTek’s SoCs. The GPL states that MediaTek has a responsibility to release GPLv2 Licensed code to their partners and then their partners must also release this code to the public. For a long time now, Kernel source for MediaTek-powered devices has either been non-existent or such a limited offering that no development can be done.
Nobody is expecting MediaTek to hand over the keys to their Castle, but these steps to becoming more open will help improve their brand image, make their devices more desirable and allow their partners – their customers – to create better devices and continue supporting them. Hopefully, MediaTek Labs will start a change in how source code and drivers for these SoCs are fed to partners and the community at large.