Wednesday, December 1, 2021

MediaTek’s new Dimensity 9000 flagship could compete with Qualcomm’s top-tier Snapdragon chips

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MediaTek has just announced its latest flagship processor: the Dimensity 9000, the company’s most powerful chip ever that looks like it should be able to go head to head with the best chips that more popular competitors like Qualcomm and Samsung offer.

Where previous top-tier Dimensity chips (like last year’s Dimensity 1000) were still less powerful than contemporaries like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 or Samsung’s Exynos 2100, the new Dimensity 9000 is coming out of the gate to make a case for 2022 Android flagships.

The new Dimensity 9000 is the first mobile chip to be built on TSMC’s 4nm process, in addition to using Arm’s new v9 architecture. It’s also the first announcement CPU to use Arm’s new core designs: a single Cortex-X2 performance core clocked at 3.05GHz, three Cortex-A710 cores at 2.85GHz, and four Cortex-A510 efficiency cores at 1.8GHz. The GPU, meanwhile, is a 10-core Arm Mali-G710, along with MediaTek’s fifth-generation APU with six total cores for AI processing (which the company says offers four times the performance and power efficiency compared to its previous generation).

The new 18-bit Imagiq Gen 7 ISP claims to be the world’s first chip to be capable of capturing a 320-megapixel image (assuming your phone has a sensor that can shoot at that level), capable of transferring data at 9 gigapixels per second.

As one might expect for a modern smartphone chip, the Dimensity 9000 offers an onboard 5G modem with support for the 3GPP’s Release 16 specification. Notably, though, the new chip still lags behind competitors by only offering built-in sub-6GHz 5G support, without the faster mmWave standard. The Dimensity 9000 does claim to be the first smartphone to support Bluetooth 5.3 and will work with Wi-Fi 6E, too.

It’s likely that MediaTek won’t be alone for long when it comes to using the latest Arm technologies — Qualcomm, for example, is widely expected to announce a successor to its Snapdragon 888 chipset at its annual Snapdragon Tech Summit on November 30th. But even if MediaTek finds that the Dimensity 9000 is merely in the same weight class as whatever Qualcomm announces this year, instead of a leap ahead, that’s a big win for MediaTek, which has largely lagged behind until now.

MediaTek has long been an also-ran when it comes to major Android devices, but the Dimensity 9000 shows that it’s finally looking to really compete. The question now is whether phone manufacturers are ready to join it.

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