MediaTek Unveils ARM-Based SoC for High-End Tablets

MediaTek optimized ARM's Big.Little technology to allow both the performance and power-efficiency cores to be used at the same time.

MediaTek, which is known for making ARM-based chips for smartphones and entry-level to midrange tablets, is going after the high-end tablet market with its latest product, the MT8135.

Company officials, who reportedly are working on an eight-core ARM system-on-a-chip (SoC), said the new offering not only will leverage ARM's Cortex-A7 architecture, but also will feature Imagination Technologies' latest graphics product, the PowerVR Series6.

At the same time, MediaTek is offering an optimized configuration of ARM's Big.Little processing architecture, which ARM introduced with the Cortex-A7 CPU in 2011. ARM created the Big.Little design to address users' demands for both greater performance and longer battery life in their devices. In the Big.Little design, both a Cortex-A7 and Cortex-A15 reside on the same SoC. When the device is running basic tasks such as social media, audio playback and calling, the low-power Cortex-A7 kicks in, highlighting energy efficiency over performance.

The Cortex-A15 is used for more compute-intense workloads, such as navigation and gaming. ARM's Big.Little multiprocessing software selects the right CPU for the right job, a process that is automatic and transparent to the user.

In ARM's original Big.Little little design, only the Cortex-A7 or Cortex-A15 can work at a time. However, with the MT8135 SoC, the Cortex-A7 and Cortex-A15 can both work at the same time, enabling what MediaTek officials call "heterogeneous multiprocessing." Consumers and business users will be able to run compute-intensive workloads while ensuring greater power efficiency.

"At MediaTek, our goal is to enable each user to take maximum advantage of his or her mobile device," Joe Chen, general manager of MediaTek's home entertainment business, said in a statement. "The implementation and availability of the MT8135 brings an enjoyable multitasking experience to life without requiring users to sacrifice on quality or energy. As the leader in multi-core processing solutions, we are constantly optimizing these capabilities to bring them into the mainstream, so as to make them accessible to every user around the world."

ARM creates SoC designs, which it then licenses to partners such as Mediatek, Qualcomm and Samsung, who in turn optimize the design and add their own technologies to it. A number of manufacturing partners have adopted ARM's Big.Little design. Most recently, Fujitsu officials earlier this month announced they were beginning to develop chips for consumer devices and industrial systems based on the Big.Little design.

Mitsugu Naito, executive vice president of Fujitsu's advanced products business unit, said at the time that "being able to bring a flexible, high-performance solution to address the dynamic market associated with visual computing is vital for Fujitsu Semiconductor. The energy-efficient pairing of ARM Cortex CPUs in a Big.LITTLE configuration with the market-leading performance and GPU Compute functionality offered by the Mali-T624 GPU opens up a wide range of opportunities for the features offered to end consumers and industrial applications."

The MT8135 also features the company's four-in-one connectivity combination that includes WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and FM, ensuring a highly integrated wireless solution. The SoC also supports WiFi certified Miracast, which makes multimedia content sharing between devices easier.

The MT8135 is the latest in a growing line of quad-core SoCs from MediaTek, which introduced its first quad-core chip in December 2012. MediaTek officials said that since the December launch, the quad-core offerings has fueled 350 projects worldwide and is in 150 mobile device models.