MediaTek’s latest Helio P-series processor for smartphones and other mobile devices in an octa-core chip with PowerVR graphics, support for devices with up to a 48MP camera and display resolutions up to 2520 x 1080.

But the key features setting the MediaTek Helio P90 apart from its processor is the APU 2.0 AI processing unit which the company says makes the new chip 4X more powerful than the Helio P60 or P70 when it comes to tasks involving artificial intelligence.

That includes things like post-tracking that enables things like Augmented Reality avatars that move when you move, apps that watch your stance while playing sports to provide analysis and suggestions, and better low-light photography.

MediaTek says it’s also been working with Google to optimize the chip’s performance for augmented reality experiences such as ARCore and Google Lens.

As AnandTech notes, MediaTek changed the way it arranges the processors 8 CPU cores. Instead of big.LITTLE design with four lower-power cores and four higher-power cores, the P90 has two 2.2 GHz ARM Cortex-A75 CPU cores and six 2 GHz Cortex-A55 cores.

That means it should offer stronger single-core performance than the Helio P60 or P70, but it may not be quite as powerful for multi-threaded tasks.

That said, upgrades to the GPU and APU should lead to significantly better graphics and machine learning performance. And MediaTek has also uploaded the 4G LTE modem to support download speeds up to 600 Mbps (up from 300 Mbps).

Here’s a run-down of some of the P90’s key specs:

  • 2 x 2.2 GHz ARM Cortex-A75 CPU cores
  • 6 x 2 GHz ARM Cortex-55 CPU cores
  • 970 MHz PowerVR GM 9446 GPU
  • Support for up to 8GB of LPDDR4x-1866 dual channel RAM
  • Support for UFS 2.1 storage
  • Up to 48MP 24 + 16MP cameras
  • Up to 2520 x 1080 pixel displays
  • 4G LTE Cat-12 DL and Cat-13 UL
  • 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, and FM Radio support

press release

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7 replies on “MediaTek launches Helio P90 processor with emphasis on AI and augmented reality”

  1. One glaring omission is power efficiency. I have not followed MediaTek for a while but the last I heard their processors were not the most efficient.

  2. The latest Mali GPU’s are good, so this shift is somewhat surprising. However, I do think PowerVR still makes the best Mobile GPU’s in the industry, ahead of Adreno, Apple, Mali, and Nvidia. So this is potentially a big upgrade, since the P70 actually had a cut-down/disadvantaged Mali-GPU (silicon cost savings). However, knowing MediaTek’s history the skeptic in me thinks they picked up one of the cheaper solutions, at the expense of the user/experience.

    The upgrade from 4x Cortex A53 to 6x Cortex A55 is a nice little boost for everyday computing.
    However, I’m mixed about those Cortex A75’s. The most disappointing part isn’t the shift from 4-core to 2-core, but the frequency boost. I would’ve expected at least 2.4GHz, anything less isn’t great. It would’ve been much better to opt for the Cortex A76’s, and if Huawei already has it in the market, there’s no reason why this yet to be shipped product couldn’t.

    The AI/Machine Learning/NPU/Crypto etc etc are only buzzwords. They’re fluff, only for marketing. And they don’t help the actual user, and in fact, might hinder the experience in terms of thermal and silicon penalty. The important factor is the “smart” software not these fake “smart” hardware, case in point, Pixel Camera ports.

    So overall, its not a great SoC, which was as expected. The low-end Snapdragon 636 should offer decent competition for it, and the new Snapdragon 678/750 should decimate it. They could’ve done a much better job:
    16nm/10nm (“12FFC”)
    2.4GHz of 2x Cortex A76 (512kb L2)
    2.0GHz of 6x Cortex A55 (128kb L2)
    L3 cache of 1MB (enough, cost savings)
    High-end Mali-GPU or PowerVR
    Fake NPU but real Marketing ; )
    Maybe for the first time, drivers, documentation, source, bootloader unlock etc etc
    And even throwing it into AndroidONE phones
    ….then ship it into devices selling for US$200, and you have a 2019 winner

    1. OT: Kangal, regarding our discussion under the article “Google pulls the plug on Play Services for Android 4.0.” I was away from keyboards/my desktop computer. I realized the comment section under a blog isn’t ideal for a real discussion like on a forum. But anyways, here you go:

      https://liliputing.com/2018/12/google-pulls-the-plug-on-play-services-for-android-4-0.html#comment-1124622

      “It’s very probable that iOS 12 will be the last version for the iPhone 5S, 6, 6+, and maybe also the SE, 6S, and 6S Plus.”

      You suggest that Apple is going to pull the plug on multiple generations of iOS devices at once. If that happened, it would be the first time.

      I have no idea what exactly did you refer to with the 4-year thing. I linked to an article which stated people on average upgrade their iPhones (and smartphones in general) in more like 3-year intervals as compared to 2-year intervals previously.

      I’ve heard many people instead of upgrading iPhones every 2 years are now buying a pair of AirPods accessory instead. I’ve also started to see them in the wild in increasing numbers.

      Accessories (such as covers) in general have higher profit margins, though I can imagine the AirPods might just be the exception, given their odd price by Apple’s standards. I mean, why $160? This isn’t an usual appley marketing driven price point.

      https://9to5mac.com/2018/12/02/kuo-all-new-design-airpods-in-2020-wireless-charging-model-in-first-quarter-2019/
      “Kuo forecasts dramatic unit growth for AirPods with units rising from 16 million units in 2017 to over 100 million by 2021. He calls them Apple’s most popular accessory ever.”

      You might be interested in reading a blog called Above Avalon. It is Apple centric, but I’ve read there about other interesting things technologies like the future of the car. I just have less time nowadays to read that blog.

      1. No worries, I didn’t see any responses there.

        It’s not unusual at all.
        Apple supports the software for their phones ranging from: 3.5 years, to average 4.0 years, and upto 5.5 years. They’ve done this before if you weren’t aware. It’s extremenly likely the 5S will get iOS 12 as the last version update. That means its getting 5.0 years support.

        The iPhone 6, 6 Plus, are actually identical to the 5S in capability, so they are likely to lose support at the same period. Which means they’re within the average of 4.0 year support, not too shabby.

        The iPhone SE, 6S, 6 Plus are the next tier above, and they’re a decent bit faster. These guys can probably handle iOS 13 when it comes in 2019 (4 year support) and maybe iOS 14 when it comes in 2020 (4.5-5.0 years). So historically Apple should support it in 2019, though 2020 looks unlikely, and its actually becoming a reality that 2018 (iOS v12) will be its last update as well. Remember, Apple doesn’t want its older customers to NOT give them money.

        And don’t put too much salt into those “forecasts”, they’re nothing substantial and are wrong as often as they’re right.

        I think you’re idea, is somewhat far-fetched, about Apple changing their 2-year tactic to include people upgrading later and supplementing it with accessories. Maybe for rich people in USA, but it won’t quite work for their average USA buyer….let alone in weaker demographics. I think their strategy is so that they want to keep getting as much money as possible from their user base, its that simple. Products like the Apple Watch, AirPods, and Apple Music were a success in my books, but a “failure” in theirs. And since Apple doesn’t want to expand their marketshare, they don’t really care, this sort of limits their adjacent growth.

        I think, now after their greedy plans failed, Apple will likely tell you:
        Yes we intended this all along. We weren’t looking to rip off our consumers, no we wanted to transform them, from buying products every 2-years to buying every 3-years because our devices are just that great. It’s not that they can’t afford them as often as before, no that can’t be it, its what we were going for. And we’re saving the planet by doing so. In the meanwhile, can I interest you into buying a FastCharger, a Dongle, an Apple Watch, an AirPod, and AirMat charger… its worth it, you can trust me.

        And I’m not an Apple hater/lover. I just know the kind of thinking and marketing that goes on with them, since I’ve followed them very closely for a long time (iPhone 3G). I don’t have loyalty to any brand, I judge a product based on its merits and not its logo.

        1. “It’s extremenly likely the 5S will get iOS 12 as the last version update. That means its getting 5.0 years support.”

          The 5s debuted in September, 2013, and support is likely to end in September, 2019. That’s 6 years of support, not 5. From iPhone 4 to iPhone 5 iPhones got 5 years of support, the iPhone 5s is the first iPhone to get 6 years of support. Knowing Apple and the hints from their communication I see it much more plausible that from now on every iPhone will get 6 years of support, similarly to the 5s, not some random number for every generation you got out of your head, I’m sorry about it. 🙂

          This means the cheap iPad which debuts in March and with last years’ processor gets 4.5 years of support. So mostly Apple support for iOS devices ranges from 6 years (iPhone, their flagship product) to 4.5 years (the budget iPad).

          I don’t know if you noticed my above, added second comment about Apple’s two-tier strategy? The thing is, when you have hundreds of millions of customers across the globe, you can’t control them as much as back in the days when Steve Jobs sold the new iPhone to his more modest, but more homogeneous audience. If you are a global company with hundreds of millions of customers both from developed and developing countries you don’t control them as much, they control you as well. Hence, the two-tier strategy. But as a global brand you have to sell both your expensive and more affordable products both on your more developed and your developing markets as well. You are right that Apple probably has the math better than you and me to how to do this to maximize its profits while doing so.

    2. This is how I see Apple’s product strategy: It’s two-tiered. Expensive products on one hand (well, most), and more affordable products on the other. This currently consist of the 9.7″ iPad and the rumored to be updated in spring 2019 iPad mini. Tim specifically mentioned in the last keynote the mini as a core of their affordable devices offering. The more affordable category will likely include an iPhone SE successor (if not necessarily in screen size, but in price point), even if it comes in something like spring 2020.

      They are also rumored to introduce a cheaper TV dongle as well to compete with Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV.

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