Taiwanese-based ARM chip maker MediaTek has let slip its SoC CPU 2013-14 roadmap onto the web and it contains some interesting reading on where the Chinese smartphone/tablet market could head over the next 12 months.
The smartphone table outlines the SoC CPUs that for the most part have already been released. You can see it’s mainly a mixture of dual-core Cortex A9 and quad-core Cortex A7 at clock speeds of 1GHz to 1.2GHz. The only significant CPU not yet released is the MT8135, MediaTek’s first Cortex A7 + A15 quad-core design. With its 1.5 to 2GHz clock speed and PowerVR SGX600-series GPU, it should deliver decent performance levels all-round. However, disappointingly, it’s only set for 1280×1080-pixel resolution screen support according to this table.
There’s more significant action coming in the tablet market according to the MediaTek roadmap with a number of Cortex A7-based models coming, including the MT6592, the first octa-(8)-core design with a rumoured clock speed of 2GHz, PowerVR SGX600-series GPU core and support for Full HD (1920×1080-pixel) resolution screen panels. It’s not expected to arrive until the October quarter, along with the slower MT6588 quad-core Cortex A7 design, which has many of the same features of the MT6592.
It’s interesting that MediaTek has almost exclusively moved away from ARM’s Mali-class GPUs to the higher-speed PowerVR options. The only up-coming MediaTek chips still relying on ARM’s GPU tech are the entry-level tablet options hitting the market around now – the quad-core MT6582 and dual-core MT6572 SoC CPUs.
There was an interesting piece recently on EETimes on why Cortex A7 is actually better than Cortex A15. It’s an interesting read based around the idea that while the Cortex A15 might deliver two to three times the performance of a Cortex A7 core, it needs four to five times the silicon space and power consumption to do it. Overall, the A15 delivers much better single-threaded performance but for applications that support multi-threaded processing, having four or even – eight – Cortex A7 cores could prove very interesting not only in terms of performance but also in power consumption. Essentially, if a Cortex A15 equals four or five Cortex A7 cores for power consumption, having an eight-core Cortex A7 SoC CPU is about the same as a dual-core Cortex A15, which could make a difference to battery life in the right application.
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