MediaTek SoC Eyes Performance and Camera Improvements for 5G Phones
MediaTek’s new compute-intensive SoC is aimed at powering the next generation of mid-range Android 5G smartphones.
When discussing smartphones, most people only pay attention to the higher end of the smartphone market, looking at offerings such as the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, or Google Pixel. However, in reality, there exists an impressive array of offerings including lower-end and mid-range smartphones which can punch surprisingly above their weight.
A notable difference between the higher and lower-end smartphones on the market is the underlying hardware, where processing and connectivity tend to be less performant in cheaper offerings. Now, MediaTek is trying to challenge that narrative with last week’s release of its MediaTek Dimensity 1080 SoC for mid-range smartphones.
Block diagram of the Dimensity 1080. Image used courtesy of MediaTek
In this article, we’ll take a look at the known details of Dimensity 1080 to see what it can offer the smartphone market.
Dual 2.6 GHz CPU Processing
The MediaTek Dimensity 1080 offers a number of exciting features and specifications, especially as it pertains to processing. From a compute perspective, the Dimensity 1080 is powered by an octa-core processor consisting of two Arm Cortex-A78 CPUs.
The two cores, which clock up to 2.6 GHz are a slight upgrade over MediaTek’s previous offering, the Dimensity 1050, which consisted of the same cores, but only clocked up to 2.5 GHz. Alongside the octa-core processing unit, the Dimensity 1080 includes six Arm Cortex-A55 CPU cores for less compute-intensive tasks.
The SoC also features some hardware acceleration blocks, including MediaTek’s Imagiq image signal processor (ISP). Imagiq bestows Dimensity 1080 with the ability to take high-quality pictures and videos through a 200 Mpixel main camera, including a hardware-accelerated HDR video recording that enables 4K resolution.
For gaming, streaming, and browsing purposes, the Dimensity 1080 is supported by an Arm Mali-G68 GPU. Finally, the SoC includes an integrated AI processing unit, which is said to be optimized for power efficiency. All of this processing will be supported by LPDDR5 memory and will be further bolstered by universal flash storage (UFS) 3.1 2-lane.
Blending Connectivity and Efficiency
Beyond its processing capabilities, the Dimensity 1080 includes a number of important features. Most notably, the SoC is said to be designed for 5G smartphones, and, with that, it includes some 5G hardware. Specifically, the 1080 specification list says the modem is a “5G NR 2CC Carrier Aggregation (120 MHz) + Mixed Duplex TDD/FDD” offering.
On top of this, the SoC includes Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth, and GNSS capabilities all built in. Together, these features allow 1080-powered smartphones to include sub-6 GHz 5G connectivity. The 1080’s specifications are summarized in MediaTek’s Dimensity 1080 infographic.
Rendering of the Dimensity 1080 SoC. Image used courtesy of MediaTek
Another important aspect of the1080 is that it was designed for power efficiency. MediaTek has not provided specific power numbers, but they claim that the use of TSMC's 6 nm process has allowed the 1080 to be very power efficient, and architectural decisions and system features such as MediaTek 5G UltraSave make the 1080 exceptionally power efficient even for a 6 nm chip.
Impact on Smartphone Market
While most people focus on the higher-end offerings in the smartphone market, the low to mid-range market is still an extremely important and sizable chunk of the market. By introducing improved hardware for this market segment, MediaTek is raising the average performance of smartphones in general, and will lead to better offerings at lower costs for more of the general population.
According to MediaTek, smartphones powered by the Dimenstoy 1080 will be introduced to the market no later than Q4 2022.