MediaTek was the first mobile chip maker to launch a 10-core processor aimed at smartphones, and the company’s latest deca-core processor is also one of the first chips to be built on a 10nm process.

So what’s next? Rumor has it that the company is already working on 7nm, 12-core chips.

That’s according to “industry sources” who have spoken with Taiwanese news site DigiTimes… which has an iffy record with this sort of thing. A few years ago DigiTimes earned a reputation for running reports about “leaked” information which predicted events that never came to pass. So I don’t cite DigiTimes reports very often.

But this rumor seems entirely plausible, given MediaTek’s history in this space, and I also have a sense that DigiTimes has gotten a bit better recently.

We also first heard that MediaTek was considering 12-core chips way back in early 2015.

Of course, the thing about reports based on “industry sources” is that sometimes they can be right and fail to predict the future. Sometimes Taiwan-based companies will get orders to work on products which are later changed before they’re released, or canceled altogether.

Anyway, why would you want a 12-core mobile processor? For the same reason you might want a quad/octa/deca-core chip.

Mobile chip makers have been combining clusters of high-performance CPU cores with clusters of lower-performance/lower-power cores for a few years. This lets the chip use all cores or just the high-performance cores when you need a burst of energy, but scale back to using just the lower-power components when you don’t need all that power.

This helps smartphones and other devices to offer both speedy performance and long battery life.

Most chip makers use two CPU clusters, for example:

  • 4 ARM Cortex-A73 cores
  • 4 ARM Cortex-A53 cores

MediaTek’s deca-core chips, meanwhile, use three. For example, the MediaTek Helio X30 has:

  • 2 ARM Cortex-A73 cores
  • 4 ARM Cortex-A53 cores
  • 4 ARM Cortex-A35 cores

So a 12-core chip? It’d probably be a tri-cluster processor with 4 high-performance, 4 mid-range, and 4 low-power CPU cores.

DigiTimes says “risk construction” of the new chips will begin in the second quarter of 2017, but it’ll probably be a while before we actually see any products powered by the new 12-core mobile processor.

via Phone Arena

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2 replies on “Rumor: MediaTek is working on a 7nm, 12-core chip”

  1. I think they might go for a design such as:
    4x Cortex A35 (0.3GHz – 1.2GHz)
    4x Cortex A53 (1.2GHz – 1.9GHz)
    4x Cortex A73 (1.9GHz – 2.5GHz)

    Although I don’t quite like designs such as this.
    Because they’re overly complicated, and Android system (kernel, OS, API) isn’t optimised to really take advantage of it. And neither do Apps target such systems.

    Things are changing though.
    So it might be feasible in the future, just not right now.
    I think the “sweet spot” might just be a 2-cluster SoC with Quadcores… but even those struggle today when compared to the efficiency of Dualcores or Single-clusters.

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