We've recently covered the MediaTek Helio 20 system-on-chip, also known as the MT6797, which at the time was rumored to be being shown to a number of Chinese manufacturers. MediaTek have now been showing off the device to more manufacturers and have gone into greater detail including a comparison with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor. We've seen something of an industry trend with more and more manufacturers, including those once largely a Qualcomm house such as Sony, dipping their toes into the MediaTek SoC market for their devices. As for the comparison between the Snapdragon 810 and the MediaTek MT6797, these SoCs are quite different. Both are big.LITTLE units, that is, they pair up a low power, lower performance processor cores with higher power cores. There are other differences too when it comes to modem support and GPU, graphical processor units. Let's take a look at the differences between these chipsets, then.
As we wrote above, both the MediaTek and Qualcomm processors here are big.LITTLE designs. However, the MediaTrek MT6797 is closer to big.medium.LITTLE architecture in that it's based around a lower power, lower performance, quad core ARM Cortex-A53 processor that may be clocked at up to 1.4 GHz. These processor cores are used for the lightweight work that a smartphone or tablet may expect to do. The next stage consists of a quad core set of ARM Cortex A53 processors, but here there's a higher maximum clock speed of 2.0 GHz. Finally, the third stage consists of a dual core ARM Cortex A72 processor with a maximum clock speed showing as 2.3 to 2.5 GHz. The Snapdragon 810 consists of a lower performance A53 quad core processor with a maximum clock speed of 1.5 GHz, backed up by a higher performance quad core Cortex-A57 core that can reach 2.0 GHz. The Snapdragon 810 supports higher performance memory and higher resolution display panels, whereas the MediaTek supports higher resolution photography and video formats. Elsewhere, the Snapdragon 810 supports Category 9 LTE support compared with the MediaTek's Category 6 support. There are differences between the GPUs too: the MediaTrek has the ARM Mali T880 clocked at up to 700 MHz compared with the Qualcomm Adreno 430 with a clock speed of 600 MHz.
One question, then, is if the MediaTek's dual core ARM Cortex-A72 is comparable to the Snapdragon 810's quad core ARM Cortex-A57 processor. The answer is "it depends," as there are many factors at play! In some benchmarks, we might expect the higher clocked dual core A72 to pull ahead whereas those benchmarking applications that benefit a quad core over a dual core, we might expect the Snapdragon 810 to pull ahead. We also need to consider the GPU too; ultimately, each SoC has slightly different strengths. Different OEMs are also likely to fine tune how these processors work in their devices according to workload, battery life and heat, but as soon as the MT6797 is released, it will make for an interesting comparison. We are expecting the Helio 20 processor to ship to manufacturers by the summer, meaning devices should be in customer hands by the onset of winter.