MediaTek's 5G SoC Coming To The Market In Q1 2020

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As 5G smartphones take off, they'll need 5G processors to power them. MediaTek, not willing to be left behind in the next-generation wireless chip production race, intends to release its own 5G SoC to the world market in Q1 2020.

The system-on-a-chip (SoC) manufacturer announced at its earnings press conference that it will have samples of its upcoming 5G chip with the Helio M70 modem ready in Q3 2019, with mass production of it to come next year.

The upcoming MediaTek 5G SoC, first announced at Computex 2019 in May, is based on the 7-nanometer FinFET process, a trend other chipmakers are following, all while using ARM Cortex A77 cores and Mali G77 graphics. MediaTek's use of ARM's Cortex A77 and Mali's G77 GPU make its upcoming 5G SoC the first worldwide to do so.

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The new MediaTek 5G SoC will improve computing by 20-percent and graphics by 30-percent. As for data speeds, it has produced a high speed of 4.7Gbps (gigabits per second) on a Nokia base station, showing how fast 5G speeds will be for future 5G customers. An AI processing engine or APU will support up to 80MP images and 60fps video at 4K recording.

MediaTek claims that its upcoming 5G processor performs well, up to 4.7Gbps in download speeds (with the sub-6GHz frequency) and up to 2.5Gbps in upload speeds on all 5G networks, whether standalone (end-to-end 5G) or Non-Standalone (5G networks built with existing 4G spectrum).

MediaTek's 5G SoC will take on Samsung's Exynos 9820 that features 5G technology built-in. MediaTek's 5G processor is the first to market using 7-nanometer FinFET, considering that Samsung's Exynos 9820 SoC in the Galaxy S10 (4G) series and the Galaxy S10 5G is based on an 8-nanometer FinFET process.

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While the MTK 5G SoC (its true name) provides 4K video recording at 60fps, Samsung's Exynos 9820 SoC provides up to 8K video recording at 30fps. Samsung's Exynos 9820 doesn't have ARM's new Cortex A77 cores, though, nor does it have Mali's G77 GPU either. This upcoming processor is, from the looks and numbers of it, designed for high-end flagships.

The company's newly-released Helio G90 and G90T gaming chips, just announced this week, features a 2.05GHz octa-core CPU, and ARM Cortex-A76 and A55 cores matching Huawei's Kirin 980 and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 Plus processors.

The Helio G90 and G90T support up to 10GB of RAM, have HDR10 support, offer a rapid response engine for more responsive touchscreen controls, and provide an intelligent network prediction that switches users from Wi-Fi to LTE when Wi-Fi quality degrades.

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MediaTek's advancement with a high-end 5G SoC indicates good news for Huawei, who has had to lean on Chinese chipset makers during its US ban. Huawei is expected to lose its Android license on August 19th, without a reprieve from Android owner and search engine giant Google.

After US President Donald Trump issued the Executive Order against the Shenzhen-based phone maker in mid-May, Huawei found itself without support from British entity and SoC chip architect ARM. In the future, should tensions between the US and China intensify, Huawei could find itself on the outside of ARM, being forced to either make its own SoCs from scratch (its Kirin SoCs currently feature ARM processor architecture) or turn to Chinese chipset makers such as MediaTek.

Huawei doesn't yet have a 5G silicon chipset of its own, but sources say it could arrive with two 5G SoCs in the second half of 2019, one being named the Kirin 985, the other Kirin 990. Both are expected to feature Huawei's Balong 5000 modem and 5G connectivity.

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The Kirin 985, manufactured on TSMC's 7-nanometer process node technology, is expected to power Huawei's flagship Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro in the third quarter of 2019. The Kirin 985 is said to offer a 10-20-percent performance improvement over the current Kirin 980 found in the Huawei P30 and P30 Pro.

MediaTek's press conference included its Q2 2019 earnings report. The Chinese chipmaker increased in quarterly revenue by 16.8-percent from the previous month and 1.8-percent from the previous year (2018) while its profit soared 12.6-percent.