MediaTek unveiled latest chipset offering, the Helio P90 SoC. The Taiwanese semiconductor company claims that its newest product offers up to four times better performance in artificial intelligence tasks compared to previous Helio P chipsets, and the improved performance is made possible by the addition of APU 2.0, a built-in processing unit and fusion AI architecture designed by MediaTek. The APU 2.0 enables the Helio P90 to support a wide variety of artificial intelligence-powered features, which include the Google Lens, an image recognition feature developed by the search giant, and human pose detection, a functionality that can track and analyze the body movements of the user. Handsets can also use the APU 2.0 to accelerate augmented reality and mixed reality experiences.
The Helio P90 chipset is manufactured using the 12-nanometer process node technology and it features an octa-core CPU, which includes a dual-core ARM Cortex A75 CPU running at a maximum clock speed of 2.2GHz and a hexa-core ARM Cortex A55 CPU clocked at up to 2.0GHz. The chipset also includes a PowerVR GM 9446 GPU from Imagination Technologies, and this GPU can power displays with an aspect ratio of 21:9 and a resolution of up to 2,520 by 1,080 pixels. The Helio P90 also supports up to 8GB of LPDDR4x RAM. Meanwhile, MediaTek's proprietary CorePilot technology manages the way the chipset operates to ensure consistent and sustained peak performance while reducing the power consumption of the device. Connectivity-wise, the Helio P90 includes a 4G LTE modem, which supports technologies like 4x4 MIMO antenna, three-carrier aggregation, High Power User Equipment (HPUE), and 256-QAM data modulation, and it also supports 802.11 ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 standards. The SoC's LTE modem is compatible with 600MHz LTE spectrum, which means that devices with this chipset can connect to T-Mobile's low-band LTE network.
The upgraded triple image signal processors of the Helio P90 can support either a single 48-megapixel camera or two rear shooters equipped with 24-megapixel and 16-megapixel sensors. Devices equipped with the chipset can capture 48-megapixel images at a frame rate of 30FPS and it can also record super slow-motion videos at HD resolution and a frame rate of 480FPS. The ISP itself includes an AI engine that aims to reduce image noise by detecting faces and scenes in real-time in both low-light and shaky scenarios, and the SoC also includes a dedicated Depth Engine which allows smartphones to offer real-time bokeh previews at a frame rate of up to 30FPS.
Background: The latest addition to the Helio P-lineup of chipsets continues MediaTek's strategy of developing SoCs with improved AI performance. Last year, the Taiwanese semiconductor firm paused the development of high-end mobile chipsets and focused its efforts on its mid-range product offerings that belong to the Helio P series. However, to remain competitive at the more premium segments of the smartphone market, MediaTek focused its efforts on developing chipsets with dedicated AI functionality, which should allow the tech firm to continue offering top-tier features while keeping the costs low. The inclusion of a dedicated built-in processing unit for AI tasks on the Helio P90 is likely a result of the company's recent strategy in chipset design.
Impact: MediaTek expects that the first consumer devices that sport the Helio P90 chipset will start shipping in the first quarter of 2019, although the company did not specify any partner manufacturers that will feature the Helio P90 in their respective smartphones. However, users will likely see this chipset in a number of mid-range devices within the next few months.