Taiwan-based MediaTek is a pioneering semiconductor company and market leader in system-on-a-chip (SoCs) for wireless communications, HDTV, DVD, and Blu-ray. However, it is mostly known as a provider of mid-to-low range chips for smartphones and tablets. As of this week, the company has extended its usual four or eight-core designs, announcing a new mobile processor supporting 10 cores. This “deca-core” chip, dubbed the 20nm Helis X20 SoC, will soon have many uses.
Three clusters make up the 10 cores of the Helio X20, a relatively new tactic in CPU design arrangement. These include a dual-core cluster, using two 2.5GHz Cortex A72 core processors for intensive tasks, and a duo of quad-core clusters, one using four 1.4GHz Cortex A53 for power efficiency, and the other using four 2.0GHz Cortex A53 cores. This configuration, achieved by a custom interconnect IP MediaTek calls the MediaTek Coherent System Interconnect (MCSI), works together to save up to 30 percent on battery life while increasing performance rates (PC World).
We will be seeing the Helios 10 core SoCs put to good use in a variety of ways, the most obvious place being in high-end smartphones. It will also fit well as part of MediaTek's first CDMA2000 modem, a beneficial opportunity for the company to work its way into the US modem market (an area where Qualcomm tends to rule). Integrating the Helio X20 into the modem will support LTE speeds of up to 200Mbps downstream and 50Mbps upstream, as well as Wi-Fi speeds of up to 280Mbps (An and Tech). As far as multimedia, video encoding and decoding will see a 30-40 percent performance improvement, and it will work as a low-power audio decoder for speech enhancement and voice recognition. Samples of the Helio X20 will be out in 2015 devices soon, with plans for shipping in the first quarter of 2016. Let's see if MediaTek can capture the attention of enough Qualcomm users by then.
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