MediaTek have an interesting history as one of the world's smartphone and tablet chipset manufacturers. MediaTek originally designed feature 'phones but evolved into the simpler, lesser priced chips originally for tablets then quickly branching into smartphones too. MediaTek's chipsets were considerably cheaper than Qualcomm, for example, but over time MediaTek evolved their System-on-Chips. In the last twelve to eighteen months, MediaTek have introduced some innovative products into the market – we've seen the first octa-core smartphone chipsets, and more recently the three tier, ten core Helio X20 chipset. However, as MediaTek's chipsets have evolved, their prices have tended to rise, which reflects the refinements made to the technology. Unfortunately, this means that MediaTek have become something of a victim of their own success and are facing a very competitive environment at the moment. Their chipsets are competing head to head with the Qualcomms, Samsungs and NVIDIAs of this world, plus a host of less well known and expensive Chinese chipset manufacturers.
Today, MediaTek released their fourth quarter, 2015 earnings figures along with a partial roadmap showing some of their chipsets currently under development. More on the chip roadmap, but first in Q4 2015, MediaTek's revenue amounted to NT$ 61.7 billion and for the calendar year, NT$ 213.26 billion. Q4's profit was NT$ 4.18 billion, down almost 60% compared with Q4 2014 and reflecting the tough competitive environment the business is facing. Looking forward, it appears that MediaTek are aiming to grow their flagship chipset exposure, although they concede that profit margins will remain under pressure.
MediaTek's chipset roadmap is particularly interesting with the Helio X20 System-on-Chip due in the first quarter. This tri-cluster chipset contains ten application cores, a category six LTE modem, and support for displays of up to 2,560 by 1,600 pixel resolution. The chipset can also handle cameras of up to 25MP including 4K video and will be constructed at the 20nm process size. MediaTek are also set to release a couple of lower end chipsets later in the year, the MT6750 (1.5 GHz, 16MP camera, 1080p display) and MT6737 (either 1.3 GHz or 1.5 GHz maximum clock speed, 13MP camera, but lower resolution screens). MediaTek also provided some details for the Helio P20 System-on-Chip, which is set to be a new super-mid range chipset. This will consist of up to eight ARM Cortex-A53 application cores clocked at up to 2.3 GHz, but built on a smaller 16nm process size and use higher performance RAM. The P20 will offer reduced power consumption, heat output and improved performance compared with existing super-mid range chipsets – MediaTek's slide reports a 15% CPU performance improvement, up to 50% GPU performance and a reduction in power consumption of 25%. The Helio P20 will support 1080p FHD displays, a 24MP camera sensor and a category six LTE modem.