Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

MediaTek

The International ARM Race: Rise Of The Chinese SoC
By , Dorian Black

MediaTek Inc. is a leading fabless semiconductor designer with a focus on 3G GSM HSPA+ and WCDMA phone handsets and phablet SoCs. The company emphasizes power efficiency mixed with performance and, up until recently, built around Cortex-A7, coupling lower-power ARM7 CPUs with a potent GPU to deliver SoCs that save battery while offering comprehensive application and multimedia performance.

Smartphone Chips

SoC

CPU Core

GPU Core

Max Resolution

Camera

Video Encode/Decode

MT6572

Cortex A7 (2-core) @ 1.3 GHz

Mali-400 MP1 @ 500 MHz

960x540

5MP ISP

720p @ 30 FPS

MT6573

ARM11 @ 650 MHz

PowerVR SGX531 @ 281MHz

854x480

8MP ISP

480p @ 30 FPS

MT6575

Cortex A9 (1-core) @ 1.0 GHz

PowerVR SGX531 Ultra @ 522 MHz

960x540

5MP ISP

720p @ 30 FPS

MT6577

Cortex A9 (2-core) @ 1.0 GHz

PowerVR SGX531 Ultra @ 522 MHz

1280x720

8MP ISP

1080p @ 30 FPS

MT6589

Cortex-A7 (4-core) @ 1.2 GHz

PowerVR SGX544 @ 286 MHz

1920x1080

13MP ISP

1080p @ 30 FPS

MT6592

Cortex-A7 (8-core) @ 1.7-2.0 GHz

Mali-450 @ 700 MHz

1920x1080

16MP ISP

1080p @ 30 FPS (h.265 support)

MT6595

Cortex A7 (4-core) @ 1.7 GHz/Cortex A17 (4-core) @ 2.2 GHz

PowerVR 6200 @ 600 MHz

2560x1600

20MP ISP

2160p @ 30 FPS (h.265 support)

MT6732

Cortex A53 (4-core) @ 1.5 GHz

Mali-T760 MP2 @ 500 MHz 

1920x1080

13MP ISP

2160p @ 30fps(h.265 support)

MT6572

The MT6572 is one of MediaTek's newer chips, released in 2013. It’s aimed a low-end devices, and consists of a dual-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7 CPU and Mali-400 MP1 graphics engine at 500 MHz. As you might imagine, it doesn’t support very high resolutions; its limit is 960x540p. The hardware also can't record video at higher than 720p and 30 FPS. But for an entry-level SoC, not much more can be expected.

MT6573

The MT6573 is based on the much older ARMv6 architecture, most likely for cost reasons. MediaTek still seems to be using it for ultra-cheap smartphones that have only the bare minimum of performance required to power Android, although with Cortex-A7 becoming almost ubiquitous for the low end, it should be on its way out within a year. The chip can't support resolutions and video playback higher than 480p, but it does seem to support 8 MP cameras.

MT6575

While the Cortex-A9 core is also pretty old, it still appears in some devices.  Performance-wise, it should be between the MT6573 and MT6572, because the latter is higher-clocked and has two cores. The chip comes with support for display resolutions of up to 960x540 and 720p video playback, along with support for 8 MP cameras.

MediaTek made a cheaper version of this SoC back in 2012. Called MT6575M, it had a GPU that was half as powerful and was manufactured using an older 65 nm process.

MT6577

The MT6577 SoC also utilizes the older Cortex-A9 (in dual-core trim, operating at 1 GHz). MediaTek keeps selling the processor because of its popularity, which enabled a lot of phones to shoot 720p video back in 2012.

Despite its age, the chip continues to support 720p display resolutions, full-HD video playback, and 8 MP cameras, making it a valuable offering from MediaTek at the right price.

MT6589 and Variants

The MTK6589 is another popular offering. It’s so in-demand, in fact, that MediaTek created another two versions of this chip: one slower (MT6589M) and one faster (MT6589T).

SoC

CPU Core

GPU Core

Max Resolution

Camera

Video Encode/Decode

MT6589M

Cortex-A7 (4-core) @ 1.2 GHz

PowerVR SGX544 @ 156 MHz

960x540

8MP ISP

720p @ 30 FPS

MT6589

Cortex-A7 (4-core) @ 1.2 GHz

PowerVR SGX544 @ 286 MHz

1920x1080

13MP ISP

1080p @ 30 FPS

MT6589T

Cortex-A7 (4-core) @ 1.5 GHz

PowerVR SGX544 @ 357 MHz

1920x1080

13MP ISP

1080p @ 30 FPS

All three are based on the Cortex-A7 CPU, and all are quad-core. But the M version has half the GPU performance, supports cameras up to 8 MP, and can only play 720p video. The T version is 25 percent faster for both its CPU and GPU, and supports cameras up to 13 MP. All three of them use PowerVR GPUs from Imagination.

MT6592

The MT6592 is an eight-core Cortex-A7-based chip that runs between 1.7 and 2.0 GHz (typically 1.7 GHz), and comes with a Mali-450 MP4 GPU operating at 600 MHz. This chip can support cameras up to 16 MP, and you'll typically see it in higher-end Chinese smartphones that cost about half as much as the flagships we’re used to.

MT6595

The MT6595 isn't available yet, but it should be by the end of the year. This chip shows that MediaTek wants to compete against Qualcomm and Samsung near the high end of the market. The upcoming SoC will employ ARM’s big.LITTLE power optimization technology with a quad-core Cortex-A7 cluster clocked at 1.7 GHz and a quad-core Cortex-A17 cluster operating at 2.2 GHz. Of course, -A17 is a new core design from ARM that promises roughly twice the performance of Cortex-A7 at a given frequency, or around the same performance as the latest revision of Cortex-A15 (like the one from Tegra K1).


The new SoC will be coupled with a PowerVR 6200 GPU clocked at 600 MHz. It will also bring support for 20 MP cameras and 802.11ac Wi-Fi, in addition to integrating an LTE modem.

MediaTek must expect the chip to be very popular, because it's making two other versions of it: the MT6595M, which will have the Cortex A7 cores clocked at 1.5GHz, and the high-end Cortex A17 cores at 2.0 GHz, and the MT6595 Turbo, which will have its Cortex A7 cores clocked at 1.7 GHz and the Cortex A17 cores at 2.4-2.5 GHz.

MT6732

At this year's Mobile World Conference, MediaTek announced its first ARMv8-based 64-bit chip, the MT6732, which comes with a quad-core Cortex-A53 complex running at 1.5 GHz and a powerful Mali T760 GPU boasting OpenGL ES 3.0 and OpenCL 1.2 support.

The chip supports dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, LTE, an ISP supporting 13 MP sensors,  and 1080p video at 30 FPS, with hardware-accelerated HEVC decoding.

Tablet chips

Soc

CPU Core

GPU Core

Max Resolution

Camera

Video Encode/Decode

MT8127

Cortex A7 (4-core) @ 1.5 GHz

Mali-450 MP4 @ 600 MHz

1920x1080

13MP ISP

1080p @ 30 FPS

MT8377

Cortex A9 (2-core) @ 1.2 GHz

IMGSGX531 Ultra @ 400 MHz

1280x720

8MP ISP

1080p @ 30 FPS

MT8135

Cortex A15 (2-core) @ 1.7 GHz / Cortex A7 (2-core) @ 1.2 GHz

IMGG6200 @ 600 MHz

1920x1080

13MP ISP

1080p @ 30 FPS

MT8125 / 8389

Cortex A7 (4-core) @ 1.5 GHz

IMGSGX544 @ 300 MHz

1920x1080

13MP ISP

1080p @ 30 FPS

MT8127

The latest chip announced by MediaTek (MT8127) was designed specifically for tablets on which customers tend to watch more videos and movies. Unlike the MT6732, though, this is not meant as a high-end chip from MediaTek, but as a more low-cost SoC for low-end and mid-range tablets. As such, it comes with quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A7 CPU, a Mali-450 MP4 GPU, and support for 1080p displays, 1080p video playback, and 13 MP cameras.

MT8377

The MT8377 is a lower-end offering for tablets, which was released last year. It comes with a dual-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A9 CPU made with the older 40 nm process and a PowerVR SGX531 Ultra GPU, which supports a maximum resolution of 1280x720. It also supports Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, and GSM/GPRS/EDGE/HSPA modems.

MT8135

This is currently MediaTek's highest-end 32-bit tablet chip, which takes advantage of big.Little technology by integrating two Cortex-A15 cores at 1.7 GHz and two Cortex-A7 cores at 1.2 GHz. It also comes with a PowerVR Series6 G200 GPU that supports OpenGL ES 3.0. Tablets incorporating this processor should be capable of respectable gaming performance,  even at 1080p.

MT8125/8389

These two chips are MediaTek's older "high-end" products for tablets that have been shipping since last year. They both support 1080p displays and 1080p video playback, along with cameras up to 13 MP. The difference between them is that the MT8389 packs an embedded GPS module and comes with Bluetooth 4.0 support. Both work with wireless standards like GSM, GPRS, EDGE and HSPA+.

Add a comment
Ask a Category Expert
React To This Article

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 41 comments.
Top Comments
  • 19 Hide
    SWEETMUSK , August 28, 2014 11:14 AM
    Please stop saying that Taiwan is equal to China . We are different , yes maybe Taiwanese's Ancestor are the same from china but now we are different!! just like England and America before . we speak same language but doesn't mean we are the same. is Canda and America are the same country ? because they both speak english?NO they are not the same! Taiwanese got a lot different Politics,Community and Traditional compare to the China please put 2 flag on which one is Taiwan and which one is China Thank you
Other Comments
  • 1 Hide
    blackmagnum , August 28, 2014 12:37 AM
    God bless, America. If you can't beat them, join them!
  • 0 Hide
    jossrik , August 28, 2014 12:52 AM
    It'll be interesting to see where manufacturing goes in the future, maybe back to EU or even Africa somewhere maybe. Right now it's hard to see things get cheaper than China, but of course, eventually it will happen. I hear Apple is gonna buy China.
  • 1 Hide
    jjjjkkkk , August 28, 2014 12:54 AM
    MediaTek is Taiwanese not Chinese
    remove it from the list
  • 0 Hide
    Draven35 , August 28, 2014 1:13 AM
    Quote:
    The company's first commercial foray using this technology came in 1983 with the 16-bit Acorn RISC Machine, or ARM. It ran one of the first true multitasking operating systems in production, RISC OS,


    Except, the first silicon didn't exist until 1985, and the machine running RISC OS didn't exist until 1987.
  • 0 Hide
    blubbey , August 28, 2014 2:23 AM
    Quote:
    God bless, America. If you can't beat them, join them!


    ARM are British though..... (unless I'm missing something which is entirely possible).
  • -3 Hide
    virtualban , August 28, 2014 4:30 AM
    The Chinese may leech off and profit from current available designs, and close-source their 'innovations', but I wonder what will they do when the rest of the world will reverse engineer and use any progress they make without having to answer to the Chinese companies (duh).
  • 1 Hide
    icemunk , August 28, 2014 4:37 AM
    The writer seems to think the RK3288 is a 2015 SOC, however it has been out since April, and many devices are available with it, lots of $200 tablets with 2000X1500 resolution, and a bunch of TV boxes as well for $100. It's an excellent chip, achieving around 40,000 antutu scores. 2015 I'm sure we'll see a brand-new Rockchip, but the RK3288 has been out for some time.
  • -2 Hide
    Andy Chow , August 28, 2014 4:53 AM
    Quote:
    MediaTek is Taiwanese not Chinese
    remove it from the list


    Since when is Taiwanese not Chinese? Read a book.
  • 6 Hide
    oxiide , August 28, 2014 5:48 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    MediaTek is Taiwanese not Chinese
    remove it from the list


    Since when is Taiwanese not Chinese? Read a book.

    Hopefully your books mention that the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the People's Republic of China (mainland China) are two distinct and, for the most part, recognized nations.

    MediaTek is indeed a Taiwanese company, though I'd rather they just specify that in the article rather than being told to remove it over a technicality. It's still relevant to the topic regardless of where they are headquartered.
  • 1 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , August 28, 2014 6:07 AM
    Thanks to the author for pointing out the closed-source BS, this makes me hate Mediatek. Others are irrelevant (luckily) so far, don't see their chips in any reasonable devices.
  • -3 Hide
    Au_equus , August 28, 2014 6:32 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    MediaTek is Taiwanese not Chinese
    remove it from the list


    Since when is Taiwanese not Chinese? Read a book.

    Hopefully your books mention that the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the People's Republic of China (mainland China) are two distinct and, for the most part, recognized nations.

    MediaTek is indeed a Taiwanese company, though I'd rather they just specify that in the article rather than being told to remove it over a technicality. It's still relevant to the topic regardless of where they are headquartered.

    ... as recognized by the US and said partners, but not by the United Nations.
  • 0 Hide
    mliska1 , August 28, 2014 7:15 AM
    I've got a RK3066 in one of those $100 MINIX boxes that are on Newegg. It's pretty powerful for what I need and the MINIX box has been rock solid. It is running on Android 4.0 though and I can't find a way to upgrade it.
  • 1 Hide
    Avus , August 28, 2014 8:45 AM
    If people can jailbreak a closed source OS like iOS, I am sure people can do the same with these garbage Chinese Android OS. If these garbage are popular enough, people will going to make them "open source".
  • 0 Hide
    calmlikeabomb , August 28, 2014 10:58 AM
    you are talking like Googles' is "true" to the open source way of thought.
  • 19 Hide
    SWEETMUSK , August 28, 2014 11:14 AM
    Please stop saying that Taiwan is equal to China . We are different , yes maybe Taiwanese's Ancestor are the same from china but now we are different!! just like England and America before . we speak same language but doesn't mean we are the same. is Canda and America are the same country ? because they both speak english?NO they are not the same! Taiwanese got a lot different Politics,Community and Traditional compare to the China please put 2 flag on which one is Taiwan and which one is China Thank you
  • 0 Hide
    Saga Lout , August 28, 2014 11:52 AM
    SWEETMUSK - please stop posting duplicates. Also, anyone else doing so for voting purposes could be banned from Tom's.
  • -1 Hide
    allenpan , August 28, 2014 3:41 PM
    where is WonderMedia Arm SoC? WonderMedia is part of VIA embedded for ARM solution

    http://www.wondermedia.com.tw/en/index.jsp

    http://www.viagallery.com/Products/wondermedia-wm8980-7-and-10-turnkey-tablet-solutions.aspx
  • 0 Hide
    Simi69 , August 28, 2014 4:36 PM
    This article exaggerates the performance of many of these SOC's and fails to mention the large volume of very low binned chips that should never have been released finding their way into cheap tablets. The rockchip 3188 is a prime example of this, constantly locking up if put under any real pressure. Which is a shame as the rockchip 3066 was an excellent chip.

    It also skips the most ubiquitous of the mediatek chips the mtk6582 which was released just before the mtk6592 as a replacement to the mtk6589, and is the Chinese (Taiwanese) chip most likely to be encountered in budget phones the west at the moment. I appreciate the effort of the article though, and with a bit of cleaning up could be a good reference for those wishing to delve into the world of Chinese smartphones.
  • 1 Hide
    ldo , August 28, 2014 7:42 PM
    Just a note that there is no issue of “spirit” as far as open-sourcing kernels goes. Android uses the Linux kernel, which is released under the GPL. That means that, if you redistribute it, you *must* offer the source. Otherwise you’re in violation of the licence.
  • -1 Hide
    andy5174 , August 28, 2014 9:25 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    Quote:
    MediaTek is Taiwanese not Chinese
    remove it from the list


    Since when is Taiwanese not Chinese? Read a book.

    Hopefully your books mention that the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the People's Republic of China (mainland China) are two distinct and, for the most part, recognized nations.

    MediaTek is indeed a Taiwanese company, though I'd rather they just specify that in the article rather than being told to remove it over a technicality. It's still relevant to the topic regardless of where they are headquartered.

    ... as recognized by the US and said partners, but not by the United Nations.


    rofl! Peoples from all over the world know that Taiwan is an independent country including you Chinese. You Chinese just don't admit it! China's economy will become a joke when China is no longer the cheapest place for manufacturing. By then, no country will support your *OWNERSHIP claim of Taiwan politically. BTW, even now, no one but you Chinese support the stupid claim in non-political situations. Truth always hurts, PITA Chinese!
Display more comments
React To This Article