Here in the US, when we think of what powers our smartphones we often think “Snapdragon”, that’s because the vast majority of western devices are powered by Qualcomm and their Snapdragon line of CPUs. This isn’t without good reason of course, Qualcomm’s chips are reliable, they sport good performance and the chip giant can be relied upon to deliver units in high volume. Recently however, we’ve been hearing the name MediaTek more and more. The Chinese chip manufacturer has bought quad-core performance to countless devices that retail for very little off contract. These devices are mostly aimed at emerging markets and at Asia of course, but the company is looking to change all that. At this year’s Mobile World Congress, MediaTek is announcing their first 64-bit ARM-based CPU for smartphones and yes, these chips will be destined for low-cost smartphones.
The MT6737 is an ARM-based SoC (System on Chip) made possible thanks to ARM’s new Cortex-A53 core design. The Cortex-A53 might be aimed at the lower-end of the performance spectrum, but it still utilizes the British company’s ARMv8 instruction set. Something that is bound to make more of a difference to mobile performance than the change up to 64-bit. The Mali-T760 GPU is coming along for the ride, with full support for the likes of OpenGL ES 3.0 and OpenCL. So too, is there support for Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi 802.11n and the usual. However, the other big thing here is that the MT6732 will support LTE, allowing for download speeds of up to 150mbps. As with most other chips from the Chinese manufacturer, the MT6732 is aimed at budget-minded devices to cost no more than $200 or so. That’s a big claim, and the improvement in performance coupled with the inclusion of LTE will make mid-range devices even more appealing to consumers.
MediaTek told Ars Technica that they shipped 220 Million chipsets for smartphones and 20 Million for tablets, this year they hope to increase those figures to 400 Million and 40 Million, respectively. Make no mistake, MediaTek is an industry player to keep watch on throughout 2014 and their announcement of a 64-bit CPU, no matter how gimmicky it sounds, is more important than you might first think.