MediaTek started talking about an upcoming deca-core mobile processor last month, and now it’s officially providing more information about this 10-core beast.

The MediaTek Helio X20 doesn’t just have more processor cores than whatever’s in your current phone. As AnandTech notes, also one of the first chips from MediaTek to feature a CDMA2000-compatible modem, which means it could support Verizon and Sprint’s wireless networks. That could help MediaTek gain a foothold in the US market.

OK, but what about those 10 cores? How do they work together?

As expected, the Helio X20 uses a tri-cluster arrangement, with three different types of CPU cores designed to work together. There are:

  • Two 2.5 GHz ARM Cortex-A72 cores
  • Four 2 GHz ARM Cortex-A53 cores
  • Four 1.4 GHz ARM Cortex-A53 cores

The processor can use some or all of those CPU cores at any given time. When you need a performance boost, the chip can fire up all 10 cores. When you don’t need full performance it can rely on the slower Cortex-A53 cores for basic performance while conserving power and offering longer battery life.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s how many of today’s ARM-based octa-core processors work. They just usually have two clusters instead of three.

MediaTek claims the chip offers about 30 percent lower power consumption than you’d get from a similar dual-cluster processor.

The chip maker is also promising a boost in graphics performance, thanks to an ARM Mali T800 series graphics processor. Other features include support for 4G LTE, 802.11ac WiFi, 4K video recording, dual 13MP cameras, and an integrated ARM Cortex-M4 processor core for always-on speech recognition and other low-power, always-on applications.

You’ll probably have to wait until early 2016 to buy a device with a MediaTek Helio X20 processor, but the chips should begin sampling in the second half of 2015.

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2 replies on “MediaTek’s 10-core CPU is official: Meet the Helio X20”

  1. 3 clusters instead of 2… sounds like the Onion article on going to 5 razor blades. It looks like they have no choice on this as there are many 2 cluster designs to compete with. It people buy based on benchmarks, this should sell well. These days I am more interested in the display quality and touch screen sensitivity.

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