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November 19, 2021
🍙 Had some amazing Japanese food last night and a little dabble of some nice Sake, too. I remember drinking the unfilted stuff in Tokyo, pretty fun!
MediaTek comes to play
MediaTek Dimensity 9000 SoC
Supplied by MediaTek

For the longest time, the inclusion of MediaTek in an Android smartphone was a flag that it was …cheap. A value phone at best. Something not for enthusiasts, in any case. 

  • It’s just that Qualcomm’s Snapdragon line dominated over the performance and efficiency of MediaTek and the latter was simply the other SoC for Android, a long way behind Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung, and even Huawei’s HiSilicon.
  • Then MediaTek largely gave up on flagship chips and started doing a solid job in mid-range, even convincing OnePlus to go with MediaTek power for the Nord 2, for the first time in the OnePlus range, and Xiaomi went with it for the Xiaomi 11T as well
  • That led to MediaTek quietly growing to hold top spot in the mobile market: now with a 40% market share, and a strong 28% of 5G SoC market share.

Now, MediaTek is back with its first solid attempt at a top-tier SoC, the Dimensity 9000, its most powerful yet:

  • The big features are that it’s the first announced chip to be produced on TSMC’s 4nm process. It’ll run 5G without mmWave, and offers Wi-Fi 6E, and Bluetooth 5.3.
  • It also ticks some boxes: it’s the first Armv9 SoC with Cortex-X2, A710, and A510 CPUs, there’s a new Mali-G710 GPU, and it has LPDDR5X compatibility.
  • MediaTek is also making more big claims: efficiency, image signal processor (ISP) speeds, and more.

Anyway, Hadlee Simons — who was briefed by MediaTek, and who has been closely watching the company for years — wrote up thoughts, and has some additional insights here for Daily Authority subscribers:

  • “The Dimensity 9000 represents a major push for the premium flagship market though, and the company’s Finbarr Moynihan acknowledged in an Android Authority interview that this is new ground for them in many ways.”
  • “To be fair here, I think MediaTek has never really played in the true flagship tier of smartphones. To some degree our competitor has had that playground to themselves for far too long,” he told us.
  • He also acknowledges that this isn’t a one-off strategy and will require “sustained, multi-year investment.”

Hadlee adds:

  • “I think a reason for this push, other than the higher margins and image benefits from being a market leader, is because MTK wants to get into the Windows on Arm space. CEO Rick Tsai said so last month and this was echoed by Moynihan in our interview. 
  • “In terms of specs, it definitely looks more premium. There’s a Cortex-X2 CPU core in here, which is the first sign that this is a powerful SoC on paper. We’ve also got a 4nm TSMC process, which might be more efficient than Samsung’s 4nm process for its own chips and Qualcomm silicon. But we’ll need to wait and see regarding that. 8K recording is in here too, which has been missing from MTK chipsets for a while. 8K isn’t super important right now, but it’s something MediaTek needs if it wants to play in the premium space, being one less advantage Qualcomm and Samsung have over it.
  • “Perhaps the only downside we can see so far is the lack of mmWave support. The company says it’ll offer mmWave next year in segments below the Dimensity 9000. mmWave is obviously important for the US, but for flagships, Moynihan said ‘we felt like our market is probably not the US this year.’”

Also: MediaTek says only one company has heating issues, and “it’s not us”, with Qualcomm in the spotlight.

Bonus: Intel’s chip recovery plan could restore US manufacturing prowess, but the come-from-behind strategy is risky and will take years, even with government subsidies (CNET).


📳 Moto G31, G41, G51, G71 launched: A smorgasbord of budget phones (Android Authority).

👉 Xiaomi 12X leaks: A smaller flagship with a camera upgrade? (Android Authority).

🍎 A Bloomberg report suggests Apple has switched to a “fully autonomous electric car” by 2025, not just an EV with driver-assist. Sources told Bloomberg that “Apple’s car team had explored two simultaneous paths: creating a model with limited self-driving capabilities focused on steering and acceleration — similar to many current cars — or a version with full self-driving ability that doesn’t require human intervention.” Apple has now chosen the latter and hit the accelerator. There’s a long way to go on software for automation, and hardware, where Apple needs to find a car manufacturer and build something that it can charge a premium for.

💸 So the fun week where the ConstitutionDAO effort to buy the Constitution was all set to go sadly fell over when the crowdfunding campaign was outbid at Sotheby’s. It created a million memes and ideas, but the issue now is that refunds will be sent, minus considerable gas fees (Vice).

📺 GeForce Now is about to start streaming PC games directly to LG TVs (The Verge).

📺 A look under the hood of Netflix and its 17,000 server strong CDN (The Verge).

🔥 Amazon Fire tablets are down to record-low prices: Fire HD 8 was $90, now $45, somehow (Amazon).

😬 Nvidia acquisition of Arm now under new scrutiny by FTC, as well as UK and rest of EU (Ars Technica).

🔫 The bold gamble to make Halo Infinite last forever, and how 343 missed the new Xbox console launch (Wired).

🤔 “ELI5: How does the post office know if a stamp is real?” (r/explainlikeimfive)

Friday Fun

The winners of this year’s Comedy Wildlife Photo Awards are out and you just have to laugh sometimes:

chee kee teo time for school
Tristan Rayner / Android Authority

And the winner with the caption, “ouch”:

ken jensen ouch
Tristan Rayner / Android Authority

…best not to dewll on these matters.

Have a great weekend!

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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