MediaTek Seeks to Top Qualcomm in Flagship Smartphone Chip


MediaTek, the world’s largest smartphone chipset manufacturer by volume, unveiled its first truly top-of-the-line chip. The Dimensity 9000 comes with a slew of new features, including the industry’s first ARM Cortex-X2 processors and three-carrier 5G aggregation.

Yen-Chi Lee, Deputy General Manager of MediaTek’s smartphone business unit, claimed, “We can boost performance 35 percent compared to today’s Android flagships,” referring to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 utilized in the Samsung Galaxy S21. According to him, the chip’s GPU performance is 35 percent better than “today’s Android flagship.”

The Dimensity 9000 is the first smartphone chip made with TSMC’s new 4nm technology, as well as the first to use Arm’s new Cortex-X2 CPU core. The flagship chip will have the Cortex X2 as an “ultra” performance core, three Cortex-A710 cores as general “super” performance cores, and four Cortex-A510 efficiency cores, all based on the new ArmV9 architecture. LPDDR5x memory with up to 7,500 Mbps bandwidth will be supported by the Dimensity 9000.

The Dimensity 9000 is also the first chip to include Arm’s Mali G710-MC10 GPU, as well as Vulkan SDK for Android’s industry-leading ray tracing capability. While no phones with this high of a refresh rate are currently available, MediaTek claims the Dimensity 9000 can handle screens with up to a 180 Hz refresh rate at FHD+ resolutions.

The Dimensity 9000 also includes the industry’s first 18-bit image signal processor, allowing it to capture 4K HDR video with up to three cameras at once, or still images with up to a gigantic 320-MP sensor. The lack of mmWave 5G capability in the Dimensity 9000 could hinder MediaTek’s chances of seeing its chip in more phones, especially in the United States, where operators like Verizon have been pushing hard to improve the reach and speed of their mmWave 5G network.

The Dimensity 9000 employs ARM’s standard core designs, but MediaTek determines which cores go where, in what order, and with which bus and other components. Qualcomm’s next-generation pure-CPU performance will most likely be similar to the Dimensity 9000’s because it uses regular ARM CPU cores. Qualcomm announced this week that it is resuming custom core development with a team acquired from startup Nuvia, although the results won’t be accessible until late next year.

In a few weeks, Qualcomm is slated to unveil its own new flagship mobile CPU at the annual Snapdragon Summit, but MediaTek appears to be relishing the opportunity to beat Qualcomm to the punch with a variety of next-gen capabilities.

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Ajisebutu Doyinsola

Doyinsola Ajisebutu is a journalist and prolific writer who takes a special interest in Finance, Insurance, and the Tech world.