MediaTek is continuing to bring the fight directly to Qualcomm, this time with its announcement of its new 4G LTE octa-core processor. A few months back MediaTek started shipping its eight core MT6592 processor and according to tests I ran on the ThL T100S, the chip is faster for CPU only operations (not GPU) than many of the top processor models from Qualcommn and Samsung. The new chip which MediaTek has announced should be even faster.
The MT6595 is another octa-core processor capable of using all eight cores simultaneously (known as Heterogeneous Multi-Processing or HMP) but rather than using eight Cortex-A7 cores (like the MT6592) the new processor uses four ARM Cortex-A17 cores plus four Cortex-A7 cores. The Cortex-A17 has just been announced by ARM and can be clocked at speeds over 2GHz. It is thought that the MT6595 will clocks its A17 cores at somewhere between 2.2 and 2.5GHz and run the A7 cores at 1.7GHz. The chip will also use an Imagination Technologies PowerVR Series6 GPU which means it should perform much better in the graphics department than the Mali-450 based MT6592.
However, MediaTek has a few more tricks up it sleeves than just octa-core processing and a better GPU. The new MT6595 includes an integrated 4G LTE multi-mode modem with support for category 4 FDD and TDD LTE. The modem also supports 2G and 3G networks and according to MediaTek the device will work with over 30 3GPP RF bands meaning it will support the various LTE bands from around the world.
But there is more, the MT6595 also supports H.265 in hardware. That means that the processor can handle H.265, H.264 and VP9 playback at Ultra HD resolutions (4K2K). The MT6595 also supports camera up to 20MP. Other interesting features are support for Wi-Fi 802.11ac and the inclusion of a multi-GNSS positioning subsystem that works with GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo and QZSS
MediaTek has made significant inroads into the Asian smartphone market and has had some impact on the worldwide tablet market. However the inclusion of an LTE modem and worldwide frequency support means that MediaTek is serious about taking on the likes of Qualcomm and Samsung.
'Congratulations to MediaTek on being in a leading position to implement the new ARM Cortex-A17 processor in mobile device', said Noel Hurley, Vice President and Deputy General Manager, ARM Product Division.
The key to MediaTek’s success in Asia has been pricing. Without the R&D costs of Qualcomm (which designs its own cores as well as using the Cortex designs from ARM) the company has been able to make low to mid-range processors for smartphones that retail at less than $150.
Samples of the MT6595 will be commercially available during the first half of 2014, and smartphones using the processor are expected in the second half of this year. For me, I am looking forward to seeing some MediaTek powered LTE phones coming out of China. MediaTek could also get big wins with companies like Lenovo (the new owners of Motorola), ZTE and Huawei. Also I am keen to see if any of the other brands like LG, Sony, Asus etc pick up the MT6595.
What about you, would you buy a MediaTek powered LTE smartphone? Do you think MediaTek can become a true alternative to Qualcomm?