MediaTek MT6577 Dual-Core Chip Aimed at Sub-$200 Smartphones

The Taiwanese chip maker is looking to bring high-end capabilities to a booming part of the larger smartphone space.

MediaTek is coming out with a dual-core ARM-based processor designed for low-cost smartphones, a booming part of the overall smartphone market.

The MT6577, based on the Cortex-A9 architecture at ARM, is aimed specifically at smartphones costing less than $200 and running Google€™s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich mobile operating system. The Taiwanese chip maker is looking to bring dual-core chip performance to the entry-level segment of the market for devices that normally are powered by single-core processors.

Most mainstream smartphones run dual- or quad-core chips, though less costly devices are gaining market share, particularly in such areas as emerging markets.

Dual-core processors account for more than 20 percent of the smartphone chip shipments in 2011 and should see growth over the next two years, becoming more prevalent in entry-level smartphones by 2013 as architectures like ARM€™s Cortex-A5 take greater hold, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics.

Most smartphone chip makers, including Qualcomm, Nvidia, Samsung Electronics and Texas Instruments, offer dual-core processors, but they normally are found in devices above the entry-level stage and cost more than $200.

In addition, smartphones in the mid- and entry-level segment will continue their fast-growth pace, according to Strategy Analytics analyst Stuart Robinson. Robinson is forecasting shipments in this segment to grow from fewer than 200 million units this year to more than 500 million units in 2016.

MediaTek is looking to take advantage of that growth with the MT6577, according to company President Ching-Jiang Hsieh.

€œThe MT6577 adds the next level of performance and enhanced user experience to the MediaTek smartphone family, delivering enhanced user interactivity, mobile connectivity and rich multi-media experience previously only available on high-end devices,€ Hsieh said in a statement.

MediaTek already offers two smartphone platforms€”the MT6573 and MT6575€”which currently are being used by such smartphone makers as Lenovo and top-tier Chinese OEMs, according to the company.

MediaTek€™s MT6577 chip is a 1GHz processor with a PowerVR Series5 SGX GPU from Imagination Technologies and MediaTek€™s own 3g/HSPA modem. Its ability to run Android 4.0 also sets it apart from other chips aimed that the low-cost smartphone market.

With the dual-core capabilities, the chip can boost application and browser performance by as much as 40 percent over single-core platforms, according to company officials.

The chip also supports 8-megapixel cameras, high-definition 1080p video playback and high-resolution displays up to HD720 (1,280-by-720) resolution. There€™s also support for 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and FM radio.

MediaTek officials said smartphone manufacturers are beginning to incorporate the MT6577 dual-core platform into their designs, though they declined to name those companies. They expect the first smartphones based on the new chips to hit the market in the third quarter.