A Radical New Processor Will Disrupt the Smartphone Market in 2024
MediaTek has big plans for its upcoming major smartphone chip release, which it describes as "a radical departure from conventional thinking" in terms of processing architectural design. This is, according to Finbarr Moynihan, vice president of corporate and worldwide marketing at MediaTek.
For those who may not be familiar with MediaTek, the company is the fourth-largest chip design/manufacturer of its kind in the world. It is based in Taiwan, and Moynihan supplied some statistics on the firm's impressive and growing penetration of the technology sector:
“We think we will have over 50% market share for Android in the European market this year, so more than half of the Android phones there will be powered by MediaTek. In the U.S. market, we probably are a little lower, probably around 45% of the market for Android by volume.”
MediaTek powers a lot of midrange devices in the U.S. and U.K., including the OnePlus Nord N300 and Motorola Edge (2022). But it’s still eyeing the flagship market with its Dimensity 9000-series chips, and it’s seeing considerable success in this space in China.
“By our calculations, we’re probably somewhere between 20% and 30% of the market in China for flagship phones if you just talk about the Android market,” Moynihan said. “Given that figure was zero two years ago, we feel pretty good about it.”
Amazon is MediaTek’s biggest customer in the U.S., with everything from its Fire smart televisions to the Amazon Fire Max 11 tablet being powered by the company’s chips. MediaTek is making inroads into automotive too, having struck a partnership with Nvidia recently.
The next significant MediaTek chip release, currently referred to as the Dimensity 9300, is the subject of persistent rumors. According to reports, it will abandon the big core/small core architecture we're used to seeing and employ an all-big core design. This suggests that instead of using small, "efficiency" cores for simple operations, the device may combine large and "performance" cores to handle everything instead. Moynihan’s comments certainly suggest this is the direction the company will take.
“The CPU architecture [of the next chip] is very different. We’re leaning heavily into the big cores of the X series and the A7-series that ARM offers and not the little cores,” he told Digital Trends. “It’s going to have a pretty big step up in computing capability, both single-core and multi-core, which will bring advantages to a lot of different use cases. It’s going to be an interesting architecture from a computing perspective.”
Larger cores are used for tougher activities like gaming and multitasking, while smaller cores are used for simpler ones like basic computation. Larger cores are generally employed in multi-core designs by chipmakers like Qualcomm and Apple. So what is the benefit of using only large cores?
“It will benefit application responsiveness and multiple applications running at the same time. It will have advantages for gaming, and advantages in the camera and video use cases,” Moynihan said. “The computing benefits will be useful for generative AI applications, [a space] which is moving fast, and we’re not going to have everything optimized using Accelerated Processor Unit (APU) hardware to accelerate it. I think it’ll it will bring advantages for a lot of different use cases.”
But how will the functions currently carried out by smaller efficiency cores be handled by this new architecture? Moynihan explained MediaTek's perspective:
“A lot of [the functionality] will be ‘wake up, do something quickly, and then shut down,’ all performed using clever power management techniques. Instead of using a medium-sized core for a task, if you can use a big core for a fraction of that time and then shut it down and get the same job done, it can be more power efficient overall,” he explained.
If MediaTek follows history, the new processor will probably be unveiled at the company's annual technology conference, which will most likely be in late October or early November. By then, we'll have seen what Apple's A17 Bionic chip in the iPhone 15 is capable of, as well as perhaps Qualcomm's upcoming Snapdragon chip.
If the Dimensity 9300 proves to be as revolutionary and distinctive from the competition as Moynihan claims, MediaTek's strategy might make the flagship chip market later this year very interesting.