MediaTek Aims to Beat Qualcomm With New Flagship Smartphone Chip

MediaTek Aims to Beat Qualcomm With New Flagship Smartphone Chip

Image: MediaTek

MediaTek’s smartphone chips typically play second fiddle to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors, but MediaTek just announced its new flagship Dimensity 9000 system-on-chip, and it features a number of notable firsts.

The Dimensity 9000 is both the first smartphone chip to be built using TSMC’s new 4nm process and the first chip to feature Arm’s new Cortex-X2 CPU core. The flagship chip is based on the new ArmV9 architecture and will feature the Cortex X2 as an “ultra” performance core, three Cortex-A710 cores as general “super” performance cores, and four Cortex-A510 efficiency cores. The Dimensity 9000 will support LPDDR5x memory at bandwidths of up to 7,500 Mbps.

The big jumps in performance don’t stop there: The Dimensity 9000 is also the first chip to feature Arm’s Mali G710-MC10 GPU, along with industry-leading support for raytracing via the Vulkan SDK for Android. And while there aren’t any phones currently available that have pushed refresh rates this high, MediaTek claims the Dimensity 9000 can handle screens with up to a 180Hz refresh rate at FHD+ resolutions.

The Dimensity 9000 also supports the first 18-bit image signal processor, which gives the chip the ability to capture 4K HDR video using up to three cameras at the same time, or still photos using up to a massive 320-MP sensor (assuming device makers can find a 320-MP sensor that fits in a phone).

Even the Dimensity’s connectivity is getting a boost with support for Bluetooth 5.3 (another first among mobile chips) and faster wifi speeds with Wi-Fi 6E.

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It seems the Dimensity 9000 doesn’t come with an integrated modem that supports mmWave 5G, but MediaTek is touting the world’s first support for 3CC carrier aggregation for sub-6HZ 5G (which remains the most widely available type of 5G) with theoretical top data speeds of up to 7Gbps.

The Dimensity 9000’s lack of support for mmWave 5G could hurt MediaTek’s chances of seeing its chip in more phones, particularly in the U.S. where carriers like Verizon have been pushing hard to expand the reach and speed of its mmWave 5G network.

Qualcomm is expected to announce its own new flagship mobile chip at the annual Snapdragon Summit in a couple weeks, but MediaTek seems to be enjoying beating its rival to the punch with a number of next-gen features.

As with all chip announcements, it’s important to remember that in the end, it’s up to the device makers to implement all these new features. But with the devices powered by the Dimensity 9000 expected to be available as soon as the first quarter of 2022, we shouldn’t have to wait too long to find out how MediaTek’s new flagship smartphone chip performs in the real world.

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