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Mediatek Moves Beyond Octa-Core, Announces Helio X20 With 10 Cores Aimed at high end smart phones

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Media Tek once created ripples in the mobile processor market when it announced an octa-core mobile processor in 2013 which was in fact publicly ridiculed by its American rival, Qualcomm who went on to call it “dumb” and a marketing gimmick. However funnily enough, once the octa-core chips garnered immense popularity, QualComm had to come up with its own offering of octa-core chips.

Now, once again, in its bid to keep ahead of the game and compete with the leading companies (read Qualcomm) in the high-end smart phone segment, MediaTek has announced a 10 core chip, known as Helio X20 which would succeed the previous octa-core Helio X10.

The chip would be arranged in a “tricluster” architecture; two 2.5 GHz ARM A72 cores, four 2GHz Cortex A-53 cores and four 1.4 GHz Cortex A-53 Cores grouped together to make the deca-core chip. So essentially it is Helio X10 with two more Cortex-A72 cores and original eight Cortex A53 cores running on a slightly lower speed.

The dual A72 cores would be used for the most demanding tasks such as heavy games and heavy duty apps while the two quad cores will be employed for medium and low end tasks like mail apps, texting, casual games, etc.

Though this approach of splitting the cores for high performance and low performance tasks is not new with ARM already propagating the technology with its “big little” technology. But the idea of three-cluster architecture is the first one introduced by MediaTek which claims that it would lead to an improvement of 30 % in battery life over traditional chips and enable the smooth running of phone software.

Much like adding gears to vehicles, dividing the cores into three clusters provides a more efficient allocation of tasks for optimum performance and extended battery life

said Mohit Bhushan, the company’s head of U.S. marketing.

Not only this, Helio X20 carries many more significant improvements over its predecessor Helio X10 with additional integrated Cortex-M4 hub (for low-power sensors and low-power MP3 playback), dual 12-bit camera processors, improved graphics performance yet lower power requirement on that plus the modem, and most importantly Carrier Aggregation for the faster Cat 6 LTE, the lack of which had led to much criticism of Helio X10 and particularly hampered MediaTek’s efforts to crack the U.S. market in any significant way.

So far this lack of support for high-end features has kept the company from being a serious contender for devices sold through AT&T and Verizon.

But with Helio X20, MediaTek expects to narrow this gap and compete with other leading companies.

Adding the next-generation modem and the Carrier Aggregation feature specifically, I think, makes this platform relevant on a much more global scale for higher tier and even flagship devices. We are now relevant across the board for all U.S. operators,

MediaTek plans to launch the deca-core chip by the end of this year or early next year. In the meanwhile, we cannot wait to hear the QualComm’s viewpoint on the same.


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