Qualcomm have a long relationship of building System-on-Chips for Android devices. Their flagship chipset is the one that captures the most imagination and press, although in the case of the Snapdragon 810, not always for positive reasons. However, whilst the flagship 8xx series captures the column inches, Qualcomm have a successful range of other chipsets sitting lower down in the range, including the entry level 200-series and mid range 400- and 600- chipsets. All are Qualcomm Snapdragon chipsets, they are merely not made equally. Some of Qualcomm's success is the branding applied to the Snapdragon, and it's something we've seen arch rival MediaTek start to emulate. MediaTek have introduced a new branding for some of their high end chipsets, the Helio: first, the MediaTek MT6795 was essentially rebranded into the Helio X10 chipset and for a time was the flagship chipset of the range.
The Helio X10 is based around eight ARM Cortex-A53 application cores organized into two clusters. One has a maximum clock speed of 2.0 GHz and the other, 2.2 GHz. There's a PowerVR 6200 GPU nestling in the chipset too for video work and built-in 30 fps-capable H.265 Ultra HD 4K2K video encoding. MediaTek are working on more advanced chipsets, such as the Helio X20, which features ten application cores arranged over three tiers – but we've reports today that MediaTek are working on an improved version of the Helio X10, the Helio X12, which the company is rumored to be preparing in order to take on the mid-range competition from the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600-series and Samsung's 2015 flagship System-on-Chip, the Exynos 7422.
In terms of the improvements MediaTek are making, the chipset will contain eight ARM Cortex-A53 cores with a maximum clock speed of 2.25 GHz. For one cluster, this represents a small improvement and for the other cluster, an improvement of over 10%. The GPU is upgraded to the Imagination GX6250, which includes new hardware features such as OpenCL 1.2, OpenGL ES 3.2, Vulkan. MediaTek have polished other aspects of the chipset including using later memory standards, giving the chipset potentially greater performance. The modem baseband is upgraded to a world-mode Category 6 LTE unit with support for fourteen bands (compared with eight bands for the Helio X10). Although the Helio X12 will still be constructed on a 28nm process size, it will use an improved manufacturing technique, which is set to reduce all-things-equal power consumption by around 15%. The Helio X12 gains the same improved camera, imaging and playback technologies as first seen in the more powerful Helio chipsets such as the P10 and X20. The alleged AnTuTu benchmark score is around 55,000. The chip will use the MT6795X reference number, and appears to be pin-compatible with the older model, which will make it easier for manufacturers to upgrade their devices.
I do need to remind readers that the above is a rumor, as is the story that Xiaomi are preparing a device to use the MediaTek X12, but the concept of a mild refresh on an existing chipset appears perfectly sensible – especially if it brings about it a worthwhile reduction in power use and, presumably, heat production. MediaTek's focus on creating "Helio" brand awareness makes a mild reworking of an existing chipset a plausible strategy. Nevertheless, this is a developing story and if we hear anything else we will let you know.