Helio X20 doesn’t overheat, but shuts off its powerful CPU cores

by: Rob TriggsFebruary 4, 2016
1K

MediaTek X20 chip

MediaTek’s deca-core Helio X20 SoC is quite a feat of engineering, but the chip hasn’t managed to escape rumors about overheating. The other day, a source claimed that MediaTek’s usual partners, such as Lenovo, HTC and Xiaomi, were dropping the chip because of temperature issues. However, MediaTek has quickly refuted the claims and has given a little insight into how the X20 manages its power.

According to MediaTek’s translated response from Weibo, the company has not observed any overheating issues and is working as usual with its partners. It also states that the Helio X20 is capable of disabling its two Cortex-A72 CPU cores if the temperature reaches a certain threshold. This essentially turns the CPU portion of the chip back into an octa-core A53 design in the worst case scenario.

For a quick recap, the X20 is built from two high performance Cortex-A72 CPU cores, eight lower power Cortex-A53 cores, and a Mali-T8XX generation GPU, which is thought to be a Mali-T880MP4.

MediaTek X20 chipAdditional specs: 10-core MediaTek Helio X20 is official24

The Cortex-A72 is a more power efficient CPU design compared with the A57, and as such shouldn’t be prone to any over heating issues. Unless MediaTek have got something wrong with the implementation. At the 20nm manufacturing process that MediaTek is using, the chip is at least 20 percent more energy efficient than the A57. However the A72’s target process is 16nm, that’s where the big power savings would come in and where ARM reckons that the core’s 2.5GHz peak clock is most sustainable.

ARM Cortex A72 reduced power

MediaTek has chosen a 2.5GHz peak clock in the Helio X20, so it is certainly an ambitious processor. Even at 20nm, MediaTek’s other chips use 28nm, the very high CPU core count and larger GPU silicon area is going to require careful balancing of power consumption. The option to throttle and disable cores is something that we are very familiar with in the mobile space, and it’s a sensible design decision here too. However, it is a little more complicated with the X20, as switching off the whole A72 cluster would certainly cut a notable chunk off its peak performance.

Unfortunately, we don’t know where this temperature threshold is, how often these CPU cores are shut down, and if this will affect the user experience in a noticeable way. This leaves consumers in the unfortunate position of not knowing if they are really getting CPU capable of delivering its promised performance consistently, or if they are no better off opting for a phone powered by a cheaper MediaTek octa-core chip.

ARM Cortex A72 chipSee also: A closer look at the ARM Cortex-A721

As we learnt with the last overheating rumors, we should just wait and see what testing reveals when the first Helio X20 powered smartphones hit the shelves this year.

  • tiger

    LOL…and you wonder why Apple A-series chips are so damn good!

    • Ichibanmugen

      Pretty biased comment..

      • tiger

        Yeah, but these Android chip makers need to slow down and do proper R&D BEFORE releasing their product! Basically, they release BETA and the customers are the guinea pigs! That is bogus because customers pay top dollar for these flagships!

        • Ichibanmugen

          I agree on some levels with you.

          First of all they’re not just Android chipmakers, same chips are used for Microsoft’s Lumia phones and Windows Phone devices, so also have a look there.

          Also, Apple vs Huawei/Samsung and probably LG in the near future would be a better comparison as they are/will be releasing homebrew SOCS with their hardware, even though at this stage it is still incomparable as Apple also uses inhouse (IOS) with their hardware, so no doubt they have better software/hardware optimization. I doubt the clock speed on the apple chips are as high as the rest of the market their chips. Remember Apple manufacturers their chips at Samsung and TSMC facilities.

          Another thing what we haven’t seen and probably wont see is why Apple’s chips aren’t used by anyone else? If they’re really that good why is no one using their design?

          • tiger

            Apple chips are custom designed by Apple…and not shared with everyone else.

          • Akira Tabuchi Yagui

            Apple chips are still ARM architecture, so it’s the same architecture of most Android phones.

            I have used an iphone 6 just for testing for around 2 months and I can tell that is powerful in some tasks, but not for a power user like me. Yes, it’s a great phone for regular users, but not for people who root and like to have full control over it. It’s not that their design is better… it’s just that most of the times you don’t need so much processing power so you don’t notice it.

          • tiger

            You sound like a techie guy. Do you know how many instructions set / cycle A7 (iPhone 5s) can do vs. best of Android chips?

            (Note: i am using a 2-year old Apple chip to illustrate my point…the A9 has molested the best of Android by a wide margin.)

            A7, A8, and A9 are based LOOSELY on ARMv8 architecture. They are fully custom design. Not all ARM-based chips are created equally. This is why Apple A7-9 chips spank Android chips in CPU processing despite being underclocked.

            What full control you speak of?

            So, you’re telling me that in things that needs horsepower (such as high end games with HD graphics and processing), the iPhone stutters and overheats?

          • jokky

            Again in what situation do you see this? When people confront the A9 for an example, let’s say we use the iphone 6s plus with a screen of FHD and an OS designed with the hardware in mind against a lot of QHD devices with an OS that can’t be specifically designed with full optimization in mind. The real is that iphone is a toy for people who wants to throw the money at it. As of today there are a lot of android devices which in the 200$ range have plenty enough of power to do all the task you need, for that reason Android has already won the battle

          • Mischievous Tay

            Their A9 Chip is a joke. 1.84Ghz Dual Core is at best close to 1Ghz Quad Core, which is around the same level as a SD212. They just put a powerful GPU in it so it will run graphical intensive games that has next to no game play well, causing the illusion that the chip is good. Their previous 1.4Ghz dual core A8 can only be called rubbish.

          • tiger

            Moron, Ghz cannot be compared unless you’re talking about same architecture!!!!!!!!!!!

            Hint: SD 212 uses ARmv7 A7 cores. A9 chip uses CUSTOM ARMv8 core design.

            You are a MORON. Ignorant dumbass. You don’t even know architecture dude! STFU

          • Mischievous Tay

            I know more about architectures then you this shit. YOU ARE THE SHIT WHO SHOULD STFU. The fact that Apples uses ARMv8 is what makes it equal to a SD212 with quadcore 1.3Ghz. If we use ARMv8 cores Appl will be at most as good as a Quad Core 0.9Ghz.

          • tiger

            OK, what is ARMv8?

          • Mischievous Tay

            The ARMv8 architecture introduces 64-bit support to the ARM architecture
            with a focus on power-efficient implementation while maintaining
            compatibility with existing 32-bit software. In practice, it’s just the 32Bit version of ARM, with slight speed increase, in the end, the Ghz is still most important.

          • tiger

            LOL…so, a 2.4 Ghz ARMv7 core is faster and better than a 1.4 GHz ARMv8 core?

          • Mischievous Tay

            Total nonsense, Apple Ax series chips are useless and worthless with lousy results. Only the blind or insane will think that they are good. The only thing it has is a good GPU for gaming. For other things, it sucks to the very core.

          • tiger

            OK, lets talk CPU since you are clearly a smart tech guy. Show me these LOUSY CPU results you talk about.

            Is your Atom Z2580 better in CPU?

          • Mischievous Tay

            Results: 3 of my friends whom owned a iP6 and one whom owned a 6S+ switched to a ZF2 after playing with my ZF5. And they all loved it. My Z2580 is a dual Core 1.6GhZ that has hyper-threading, and thus have close to quad core performance, and ZF5 has 2G RAM. To compare A8 and A9 are both dual core, at 1.4 and 1.84 Ghz. iP6 and only 1GB RAM and only until iP6+ there’s 2GB RAM. ZenFone 2 has up to 4GB RAM. But it’s not really fair to compare Zen series that uses Atom processors anyway, since Atom’s x86 is far superior to ARM. Naturally, fans of Apple and RISC would disagree, but they are all idiots and so I will ignore them. CISC is divine, best of best. No need to argue or debate. Back on ARM SoCs. 90% of ARM based SoCs in the market now are at least quad-core, even a SnapDragon 212 is quad-core. The only 2 reasons why the iPhone runs smooth with a dual core cpu is because of the GPU and that fact that iOS does not multi-task.

          • tiger

            WTF…3 of your friends?! Hey, i got 4 friends who converted from Android. Does that make you feel better? LOL

            You Atom is a POS. Sorry. Intel cannot design a mobile chip based on x86 even if their life depends on it…they are just about out of mobile space.

            Ahhh, the classic RAM argument by ignorant Android fans! I played on Note recently and found that their “multi-tasking” was basically lag-fest and stutter if you have more than 2 apps open! Oh yeah, i love that crap!

            How many instruction sets / cycle can your Atom Z2580 do? What is your Geekbench 3 scores? hell, i will be nice…lets compare your “mighty” Z2580 vs. my 2-year old iPhone 5s A7 chip.

            CISC is divine?! LOL Hyper-threading? Dude, my A7 chip molests your Z2580…in every damn benchmark! Not even in the same ballpark!

            Do you know why? Hell, even comparing A7 to the latest Snapdragons will show that CPU design of Apple is really 2 years ahead of everyone else!

            Do you know what is ARMv8? Do you know that GHz means nothing?

            Go you Youtube and see multi-tasking iOS vs. Android. Check out iPhone 6s vs. Nexus 6P. Go ahead. It is embarrassing!

            Again, like most Android fanboys, you reek of ignorance. Please EDUCATE yourself.

          • Mischievous Tay

            You Apple Shitheads are the ones whom reeks ignorance. Only idiots and lunatics looks at those useless benchmarks. Most of those dumbass benchmarks tests GPU and not CPUs, and are gaming focus, Uselss to main thing. So stop vomiting benchmarks like a lunatic.
            Your 4 friends are idiots, so my problems.
            Atom is not POS, you are, and your A8 and A9.
            Sorry, my ZF5 can runs like 5 apps open smoothly. Exynos is also a chip designed to be benchmark but not in real life, so they sucks.
            Ur A7 is shit, it only get good scores in benchmarks because of the GPU.
            ARMv8 is nothing compared to x86.
            I know what GHz means, must more then you benchmarking worshiping Apple idiots.
            Benchmark are worthless, and useless, my ZF makes all your i-shits look like the toys and shit they are in all real life situations, only dumb people look at benchmarks.

          • tiger

            Youtube it. Show me.

          • Mischievous Tay

            I no need to show anything to a bloody worthless Apple Zombie.

          • tiger

            LOL loser talk!!

          • Mischievous Tay

            Apple chips gets kicked in the ass by everyone else’s chip. It just use a powerful GPU to compensate the lousy CPU. This is why iPhone have low RAM and iOS is designed to avoid multi-tasking as much as possible. To hide the fact that they are using a lousy CPU. Also, iOS runs native codes, Android only runs native codes after Lolipop. And as of now all Lolipop mid range and above devices makes iPhone 6S looks like a turtle. Btw, I lend my old $200 one year old ZenFone 5 running on the dated KitKat OS to my friend whom owns a 6S, he says it feels smoother and faster then his phone. And I have like 5 widgets running on my home screen. Oh, and my ZenFone 5 also lasted longer.

          • tiger

            You’re an idiot. Dude, you know nothing about smartphones. STFU. My best advice to you.

          • Mischievous Tay

            You are the idiot with no knowledge on IT and smarty phone. Go to hell and die, is the best advice any one can say to you. Shit you Apple zombie.

          • Mischievous Tay

            High end games strains the GPU, not the CPU. And Apple uses Power VR by Imagination Technologies, it’s not their own technology. Most other chip makers don’t put a high end GPU together with a lousy dual core CPU, because it would make it good for only playing games, and not anything else. For day to day usage, a good quad core or more CPU with a low to mid range GPU is far more practical. A Dual Core 1.84 Ghz is at most as good as a quad core 1Ghz. When playing a high end mobile game, the CPU does almost nothing. No so when running most other programs.

          • tiger

            Dumbass, Apple uses PowerVR GPU base design. Everything else, including layout and design is pure 100% Apple custom design. Can you find Apple A8/A9 GPU on PowerVR inventory list? (Hint: you cannot because it is custom design by Apple.)

            You’re an idiot. Classic Android fanboy.

          • Mischievous Tay

            You are the idiot, class Apple Shit fan. What bloody 100% Apple design? It’s based on Arm, and uses arm cores. The GPU is the only thing that makes the A8/A9 good, without the Power VR GPU, A8/A9 is shit. And if you bring up your stupid benchmarks again, it just proves your are either a lunatic, idiot, or both. Benchmarks mostly tested the GPU and software optimized and NOT the CPU power. A lousy chip with a strong GPU will do well in most benchmarks but sucks in real life, except for playing game.

          • tiger

            How many instructions set per cycle can the Snapdragon 810 do?

          • Mischievous Tay

            Number of cores and the Ghz is the important, you moron.

    • balcobomber25

      Apple A chips are very good. I would still take an Android phone any day of the week.

  • alan4195

    OMG, an article about a chipset used primarily in Chinese handsets has devolved into another iPhone vs. Android debate.

    First off all, who cares which is more powerful, prettier, has better battery life, or takes a better selfie as long as the person who spent their hard-earned money on it is happy? I myself could never be a happy iPhone user because the things that are important to me (bang-for-buck value and flexibility) aren’t offered by the iPhone. I’ve rooted and installed custom ROMs on pretty much every smartphone I’ve owned since the Samsung Galaxy S1. I own 3 paid launcher apps, a half-dozen paid theme packs, and over a dozen paid custom icon packs. Kodi is installed on my phone, as is Utorrent, ES File Explorer Pro, and Simple Unrar (like, I actually unzip stuff on my phone). I’ve played Shenmue using a Sega Dreamcast emulator (Reicast), and I regularly use Dolphin Browser just for its Adobe Flash support. Adobe Flash! Remember that???

    One of the main reasons I still own a OnePlus One is because it’s so grippy (as in having lots of grip) that I don’t need a case for it. I’ve literally NEVER dropped it. That’s the kind of user and person I am. But what’s important to me is unique to me. For a different type of person, with different priorities, the iPhone is the ideal phone in every way imaginable. And if you stop to think about it from that person’s perspective, what’s not to like about the iPhone? It’s well-made, stylish, has a great camera, a great fingerprint reader, power to spare, and a high-quality display. It’s UI is fast, fluid, and intuitive, and it’s apps and services are integrated seamlessly throughout. Did I mention the best selection of Apps, bar none?

    So really, stop with the ‘mine is better’ nonsense already. It’s childish, pointless, and no one important really cares.

    • tiger

      Adobe Flash…remember what?! That it is a POS battery hogging security nightmare? Hell, it is so damn bad that Google abandoned it. Even worst, its own developer has abandoned it!

      Maybe you should get the hint…FLASH sucks donkey balls!

      • Mischievous Tay

        Google did not abandoned it. Adobe did. And it was only due to iOS having a huge market share back then.

        • tiger

          WRONG. Google took Flash out of their browser a long time ago…even before Adobe announced that they stop supporting it.

          Wait, Google has always had marketshare! When Adobe abandoned it, Android marketshare was #1 by far.

          What? You thought that you could lie?! LOL

          • Mischievous Tay

            On November 8, 2011, Adobe announced that it was ceasing development of the Flash Player “plugin” for browsers on mobile devices. The last version of Android to supports Flash was ICS, the first that did not come with flash, but can still get flash via apk installation, was Jelly Bean, announced 2012, June. You idiot Apple Fan.

          • tiger

            Moron, Google announced dropping FLASH BEFORE Adobe made the official drop.

          • Mischievous Tay

            Moron, I have shown you the actual dates it happens.

  • Roberto Tomás

    “Unfortunately, we don’t know where this temperature threshold is, how often these CPU cores are shut down, and if this will affect the user experience in a noticeable way.”

    It should at least be unnoticeable for typical use cases. It is hard to imagine the A53s not being the target cpores for OS-level animations and such.

    It will still suck if you are actually using those A72 cores though .. but that just makes the X20 just like the snapdragon 810.

  • I find this funny because of the damage control strategy from their media term. Core parking is nothing new, but they’d have us believe it’s a sophisticated new feature. Not a bad play, but strike two I’m afraid.

    We’d rather have just heard ‘there is no problem’ I think.

  • Mischievous Tay

    This “tiger” is obviously a worthless Apple Fan coming to condemn Android, due to the fact and universal truth that 100% of Apple fans are are either idiots, lunatics, or both, I will now ceases wasting my time with this POS.

    • tiger

      The fact that you think A8/9 is the same as Snapdragon 412 shows your ignorance.

      • Mischievous Tay

        It’s not the same, A8/A9 inferior, the fact that you think it’s good shows YOUR ignorance.

        • tiger

          How is A9 inferior to S412? Explain in detail.

  • Mischievous Tay

    If we talk about ARMv8, Snapdragon 412 is quad-core 1.4Ghz. And that is low mid-range of Android Phones. It already makes this chip a lot superior then A8/A9, except for the GPU.

    • tiger

      Idiot.

      • Mischievous Tay

        You are the idiot, Core and Ghz means far more then instructions set per cycle.

        • tiger

          LOL…you’re an idiot. Educate your ignorant ass!

      • Mischievous Tay

        All sane human just look at Ghz and numbers of Cores, only lunatics looks at benchmarks and instructions set per cycle.

        • tiger

          NO YOU FUKKING MORON! How old are you?!

        • tiger

          LOL…so, a 2.4 Ghz ARMv7 core is faster and better than a 1.4 GHz ARMv8 core?

          Answer that…and tell me why.

  • Mischievous Tay

    A good CPU give good overall day to day operation, as well as multitasking. A good GPU means better gaming experiences as well as benchmark results. Naturally, dumb Apple fans have no idea about this fact.

    • tiger

      Moron, look up Geekbench.

      • Mischievous Tay

        Geekbench are for Morons, like you, shit Apple Zombie

        • tiger

          LOL…that is just loser talk!!

          Geek bench is CPU focused. Cross-platform. Intel, Qualcomm, Samsung, Apple…all on even ground.