MediaTek

What you need to know

  • MediaTek at last has a new flagship SoC on the way
  • It'll have new, faster and more efficient GPU and CPU cores from ARM, plus an AI processing unit.
  • An on-die 5G modem will boast better battery life than current 5G offerings.

Taiwanese chip giant MediaTek has unveiled its first smartphone processor with on-die 5G support, as well as new CPU cores and an updated GPU from ARM. The as yet unnamed system-on-a-chip, unveiled today at Computex 2019 in Taipei, boasts many firsts for the firm: Its first smartphone SoC to be announced with an on-die 5G modem, MediaTek's M70. It's also the first announced with high-performance Cortex-A77 cores from ARM, and the company's new Mali-G77 GPU.

Cortex-A77, announced in recent days, boasts 20% benchmarking gains over the previous-gen Cortex-A76 with equivalent manufacturing processes and clock speeds. Meanwhile, the Mali-G77 claims to be 30% more efficient than its predecessor, with 60% performance improvement for machine learning tasks. In addition, MediaTek's new chipset includes its most recent APU (AI Processing Unit) -- dedicated silicon for AI tasks.

The bigger deal for future flagship smartphones is the on-die M70 5G modem. Current 5G implementations like Qualcomm's X50, are off-die 5G modems -- far less efficient than an on-die solution because they're not built into the SoC. The M70 boasts a max throughput of 4.7Gbps on sub-6GHz networks, and the entire package, including the modem, is built on TSMC's 7nm FinFET manufacturing process.

On-die 5G means the same super-fast speeds without the battery drain.

If history is any indication, the new ARM cores in this chipset are likely to feature in many of 2020's major Android SoCs, including Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 successor, and Huawei's next-gen Kirin. Qualcomm is also expected to have its own on-die 5G solution sometime in the first half of 2020. In announcing now, MediaTek is getting out ahead of the curve, but we're looking at roughly the same timeframe for devices with this new chipset. MediaTek says samples will be available to partners in Q4 2019, with the first devices shipping "by Q1 2020."

Nevertheless, today's announcement shows MediaTek refocusing on the high-end segment, with technology that'll likely go toe-to-toe with the hardware powering other 2020 flagships.