MediaTek has been talking about its upcoming Helio X30 processor for months. We already knew it would be the company’s first 10nm chip and that like the Helio X20 series chips it will replace, the new processor features 10 CPU cores.
Now the company is providing more details about the new chip, and how it differs from its predecessor.
We’ll have to wait a little before we can buy phones powered by Helio X30 chips though. MediaTek expects to begin mass production in the first half of 2017.
The Helio X30 has faster CPU cores, supports more (and faster) memory, and supports faster solid state storage. It also supports higher-resolution cameras, has a new graphics processor, improved audio support, a better modem, and a faster sensor processor.
In other words, it’s an upgrade over the Helio X20 in just about every conceivable way. You can see a break-down of some of the differences between the Helio X30 and its predecessor in the image above, but here’s a run-down of some of the new chip’s key specs:
- 10nm process
- Two 2.8 GHz ARM Cortex-A73 CPU cores
- Four 2.2 GHz ARM Cortex-A53 CPU cores
- Four 2 GHz ARM Cortex-A35 CPU cores
- 820 MHz Imagination PowerVR Series 7XT graphics
- Up to 8GB, 1866 MHz graphics
- eMMC 5.1 or UFS 2.1 storage support
- 28MP @ 30 fps image processing
- 4K/30fps video decoding and encoding (H.265/VP9)
- 420 MHz ARM Cortex-M4 sensor processor
- LTE Cat 10 modem
- 802.11ac WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, and FM radio support
If you find yourself wondering why a smartphone processor needs ten CPU cores… well, it probably doesn’t. There are plenty of quad-core, hexa-core, and octa-core processors on the market which offer strong performance.
But MediaTek’s approach for its highest-performance chips is interesting: the two ARM Cortex-A73 CPU cores can offer high performance when necessary but they can shut off when they’re not in use. This not only saves power when you don’t need those CPU cores, but it can potentially save power when they are in use, since it lets your device get things done quickly… allowing those cores to shut down after a short period of burst performance.
Meanwhile, the ARM Cortex-A53 cores can kick in for sustained performance for less power-hungry tasks. And the even lower-power Cortex-A35 cores can take over when the phone is idle or performing activities that don’t need a blazing fast speeds, allowing you to get longer battery life than would otherwise be possible.