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Asia’s chip giant MediaTek reveals quad core SoC

Analysts predict another price war

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Taiwanese chip giant MediaTek is staking its claim to the high-end smartphone market with its first quad core offering which it hopes will give it an edge over rival Qualcomm in the high stakes China market and beyond.

The firm, Asia’s largest chip producer, has until now had success mainly with feature phones and low end smartphones, so the introduction of the 28nm, quad core MT6589 at an event in Shenzhen on Wednesday is something of a departure.

It’s claiming this will be the world’s first true quad core SoC – that is combining CPU, GPU and modem capabilities on the one chipset – and the first commercial release of a chip based on ARM’s Cortex A7 design.

Aside from the ARM CPU, there’s a PowerVR Series5XT GPU from Imagination Technologies – the same tech that powered the iPhone 4S – and a multi-mode UMTS Rel. 8/HSPA+/TD-SCDMA modem, which will keep the China market happy.

Support for multi-SIM, 13 megapixel camera, 1080p video playback and recording and full HD display rounds out the high-end specs.

“MediaTek has always been good at bringing the high-end experience into a more cost effective base. It’s always what has driven us,” the firm’s head of business development, Finbarr Moynihan, told The Reg.

“The platform will enable the quad core experience to come to a more aggressive price point but you will also see some customers doing higher end designs and trying to push their prices up.”

IDC analyst Teck-Zhung Wong said that although end users would care little over the technicalities of whether it is indeed the first smartphone SoC quad core or not, the lower price point could force the industry to into “another cycle of price competition”.

“The high end will be impacted. Once a mass market solution comes out people will think harder about paying a premium for a Samsung quad core phone, for example,” he said.

Wong was optimistic about MediaTek’s chances of success with the chip, arguing that the firm has already done business with Chinese customers who put its kit to work in feature phones and now want to step up to smartphones.

MediaTek will face stiff competition from Qualcomm, which last week announced two new chipsets aimed squarely at the Chinese market, with support for local GPS rival Beidou and wireless standards TD-SCDMA, CDMA and HSPA+ which are all popular in the PRC.

The US chip giant, which ranks third to MediaTek’s 17th in the latest IHS iSuppli global chipmakers’ table, also announced a low cost, China-centric quad core chip, MSM8225Q, back in September, although MediaTek will be hoping to get to market faster. ®

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