A list of specs said to belong to MediaTek's Helio P38 surfaced online earlier today, having been shared by an industry source from China, with the upcoming chip being largely described as a competitor to the Snapdragon 632, Qualcomm's unannounced piece of silicon that recently emerged as part of a benchmark listing detailing a new device from Xiaomi. The MediaTek-made chip is said to be of the octa-core variety, featuring a quad-core Cortex A53 cluster and another set of four Cortex A73 cores. The former should be the energy-efficient configuration that will be performing the majority of tasks in order to preserve battery life and while no particular clock speeds have been provided by the source, the vast majority of implementations of this Arm-designed architecture don't go beyond 1.6GHz, with most being capped at 1.5GHz.
The Cortex A73 cluster will supposedly be able to work at up to 1.8GHz and should only come into play when its more conservative counterpart deems itself unable to handle whatever task is set in front of it, as per the same report. The fact that the high-performing cluster features such a low operating frequency peak is yet another indication that the base configuration won't go over 1.5GHz and may even be capped below that speed. For reference, the existing implementations of non-modified Cortex A73 cores can push the platform at over 2.3GHz, as is the case with Huawei's HiSilicon Kirin 960 from 2016. While the source didn't clarify whether the Helio P38 uses modified cores, that scenario is extremely unlikely due to high development costs associated with such a design that should be unjustifiable for a chip meant to compete in the lower mid-range and entry-level segments of the market. MediaTek's Helio P40 is said to be slightly more capable, with insiders previously claiming the unannounced silicon will be able to run at up to 2.0GHz.
The Helio P38 is also rumored to feature the Mali-G72 MP3 graphics chip clocked at between 650MHz and 700MHz and may first be commercialized by Xiaomi's Redmi Note 5 expected to be launched in the first half of the year. The silicon is likely to be prominently advertised to phone vendors looking to establish themselves in developing markets, especially as MediaTek just announced a major tech initiative in India, vowing to drive innovation in the mid-range and budget segments of the Android smartphone market.