MediaTek Set To Pause Its High-End Mobile Chip Efforts

MediaTek MWC AH 04

MediaTek seems to be shifting its focus to manufacturing chipsets for mid-range Android mobile devices, drifting away from the company’s long history of competing in the high-end processor segment. The company’s general manager for international sales, Finbarr Moynihan, said in an interview with Gearburn that MediaTek has decided to pause its efforts dedicated to building chips for flagship handsets as part of a move to invest more resources in what he described as a new kind of premium devices, apparently referring to the mid-range segment.

Several factors might have contributed to the Taiwanese fabless semiconductor firm’s decision to depart from the high-range chipset category, including the lackluster market performance of its deca-core Helio X30 processor. Announced last February, the Helio X30 is based on two ARM Cortex-A73 cores clocked at 2.5GHz, four ARM Cortex-A53 cores running at 2.2GHz, and four ARM Cortex-A35 cores operating at 1.9GHz. These are coupled with a category 10 4G LTE modem and support for three downlink carrier aggregation and two uplink carrier aggregation, providing a premium chipset powerful enough for high-end devices. However, the Helio X30 has not gained much traction among high-end devices launched this year, having only been implemented into a few flagship devices like the Meizu PRO 7 Plus. Earlier this year, MediaTek hoped to strike a major supply deal with several Chinese phone manufacturers. However, in the lead-up to the chip maker’s second-quarter earnings call, the Helio X30 still saw a lower-than-expected demand from customers. LeEco withdrew its plan to purchase chipsets from MediaTek due to financial constraints, while Xiaomi simply dropped its pursuit for the chip maker’s processor because it wanted a chipset of its own, in addition to using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon-branded offerings.

Commenting on the poor reception of the Helio X30, Moynihan said the processor was far from the level required to fulfill the modem demands of the European, American, Asian and African markets together, adding that the chipset fell short of the standards needed by Chinese mid-range phones in particular. While declining to specify when MediaTek exactly plans to resume manufacturing high-end chipsets, Moynihan suggested the company is not seeking to produce premium SoCs for at least two years, indicating that the Helio X40 or however the successor to the Helio X30 might end up being called won’t debut before 2019.