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October 27, 2020
Sony Highlights Remote Technologies for Creators

October 21, 2020
Dell Technologies Embraces “As-A-Service” Models with Project Apex

October 13, 2020
PC Growth and Evolution Continues to Impress

October 6, 2020
Google Workspace Reflects Changing Nature of Productivity

September 22, 2020
Microsoft Highlights Future of Work with Teams Updates

September 14, 2020
Nvidia Purchase of Arm Completely Resets Semiconductor Landscape

September 1, 2020
Nvidia Pushes Ray-Traced Gaming Ahead with 3000 Series GPUs

August 25, 2020
Pending Fall Tech Releases Bring Excitement and Hope for Normalcy

August 18, 2020
Intel Chip Advancements Show They’re Up for a Competitive Challenge

August 11, 2020
New 5G Opportunities Coming with Mid-Band Radio Frequencies

July 28, 2020
The Shifting Semiconductor Sands

July 21, 2020
Microsoft and Partners Bring More Hyperconverged Hybrid Cloud Options to Azure

July 14, 2020
New Study Highlights Pandemic-Driven Shifts in IT Priorities

July 7, 2020
Nvidia Virtual GPU Update Brings Remote Desktops, Workstations and VR to Life

June 30, 2020
Power Efficient Computing Noteworthy During Pandemic

June 23, 2020
Apple Transition Provides Huge Boost for Arm

June 16, 2020
Cisco Highlights Focus on Location as Companies Start to Reopen

June 9, 2020
WiFi 6E Opens New Possibilities for Fast Wireless Connectivity

May 26, 2020
Arm Doubles Down on AI for Mobile Devices

May 19, 2020
Microsoft Project Reunion Widens Windows 10 Opportunity to One Billion Devices

May 12, 2020
New Workplace Realities Highlight Opportunity for Cloud-Based Apps and Devices

May 5, 2020
HP’s New Chromebooks, Thin Clients and Gaming Machines Highlight PC Evolution

April 28, 2020
Google Anthos Extending Cloud Reach with Cisco, Amazon and Microsoft Connections

April 21, 2020
Remote Access Solutions Getting Extended and Expanded

April 14, 2020
Apple Google Contact Tracing Effort Raises Fascinating New Questions

April 7, 2020
Need for Multiple Video Platforms Becoming Apparent

March 31, 2020
Microsoft 365 Shift Demonstrates Evolution of Cloud-Based Services

March 24, 2020
The Time for Pragmatism in Tech is Now

March 17, 2020
The Value of Contingencies and Remote Collaboration

March 10, 2020
AMD Highlights Path to the Future

March 3, 2020
Coronavirus-Induced Pause Gives Tech Industry Opportunity to Reflect

February 25, 2020
Intel Focuses on 5G Infrastructure

February 18, 2020
Apple Coronavirus Warnings Highlight Complexities of Tech Supply Chains

February 11, 2020
Arm Brings AI and Machine Learning to IoT and the Edge

February 4, 2020
Nvidia Opens Next Chapter of Cloud Gaming

January 21, 2020
Cloud Workload Variations Highlight Diversity of Cloud Computing

January 14, 2020
New Research Shows It’s a Hybrid and Multi-Cloud World

January 7, 2020
It’s 2020 and PCs are Alive and Kicking

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TECHnalysis Research Blog

November 10, 2020
MediaTek Driving New Low-Cost Options for 5G and Chromebooks

By Bob O'Donnell

While it may not be the most familiar name to tech enthusiasts, Taiwan-based chip company MediaTek is a growing member of the global tech marketplace. The company currently powers a significant portion of the lower-cost Android-based smartphones in China and other developing markets around the world. It is also the primary provider for computing engines in smart TVs worldwide, and, starting next year, is Intel’s official modem partner for 5G PCs.

This week MediaTek is holding its annual Executive Summit event (virtually, of course), and it is using the opportunity to introduce a number of additions to its Dimensity line of 5G-capable smartphone focused chips, as well as its MT8100 line of Arm-based SOCs designed for Chromebooks.

What’s interesting about MediaTek—which some see as a lower-cost alternative to Qualcomm, particularly in the smartphone market—is that it’s driving the adoption of critical new technologies, like 5G, by enabling much cheaper price points. In China, for example, there are MediaTek Dimensity 720-powered 5G phones at prices that translate to under $150 USD (the Realme Q2i, for example). The company’s new Dimensity 700 chip, which is based on 7nm process technology, should theoretically lead to even lower price points for 5G phones and will show up in markets outside China, including India and potentially elsewhere. The bottom line is that the company is creating the opportunity to bring 5G to very consumer-friendly, mainstream price points—and pushing Qualcomm to lower-cost 5G alternatives as well.

Of course, as you might expect, you don’t get all the technologies in a much cheaper 5G smartphone that you do in a more expensive one, but the tradeoffs aren’t as bad as you might expect. (And there’s even a feature that more expensive 5G phones—including the iPhone 12 line—don’t have, which I’ll explain in a moment.) Specifically, none of MediaTek’s current 5G modem offerings—including its upcoming modem module for PCs being developed in partnership with Intel—support millimeter wave (mmWave) technology. While this means you won’t have access to the fastest possible 5G speeds, given the extremely limited coverage and range of mmWave signals, it isn’t really a practical problem for the near future. Additionally, the lower-cost MediaTek modems don’t support MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology, which theoretically lets smartphones create several simultaneous connections to a smartphone tower over a single frequency. However, there needs to be network support for that to work, and only a few carriers are starting to deploy 5G MIMO.

On the other hand, many of MediaTek’s 5G-based SOCs, including the new low-cost Dimensity 700, has a capability we won’t see in Qualcomm-based phones until the X60 modem comes out next year. That feature is the ability to do carrier aggregation (CA) on multiple types of 5G NR signals. CA allows you to combine the data from two different connections on two different frequencies into one “fatter” data pipe. It’s conceptually similar to MIMO, but instead, it uses different frequencies to make the two connections. A benefit of this approach is that it doesn’t require the specialized beamforming antennas on cell towers that MIMO does. Practically speaking, this 5G NR carrier aggregation technology means that on a network like T-Mobile’s, which uses both 600 MHz “low-band” 5G and 2.5 GHz “mid-band” 5G (in certain locations), a MediaTek Dimensity modem-equipped smartphone could reach real-world speeds of over 1 Gbps—a feat that both companies recently demonstrated.

Another nice 5G feature in the MediaTek Dimensity line is support for Dual SIM. This could be important in situations in which a person needs to have one SIM connect to the public 5G network and another SIM connect to a company-based private 5G network. In addition, like conceptually similar features on the iPhone 12, MediaTek’s 5G UltraSave is a network detection and activity-based power saving technology that actively switches power usage and network speeds, depending on what you’re doing, in order to preserve battery life.

In addition to the 5G-focused capabilities, the Dimensity 700 features an octa-core CPU with two ARM Cortex A76-based big cores running at 2.2 GHz, a three-core Mali G57-based GPU, support for up to 90 Hz displays, AI-enhanced photography features that support up to 64 MP cameras, and an audio DSP that supports multiple voice assistants. Kind of crazy to see how far even low-end SOCs have come.

On top of the Dimensity 700, the company also teased a forthcoming, yet unnamed 6nm chip that’s expected to extend their existing Dimensity 1000 line. The new offering, expected by the end of the year, will be based on Cortex-A78 cores running at 3 GHz, but other details have yet to be revealed.

For the rapidly growing Chromebook market, MediaTek also announced two new Arm Cortex-based offerings: the 7nm-based MT8192 for mainstream devices and the 6nm-based MT8195, which is expected in premium devices later in 2021. Both devices feature four big ARM cores (Cortex A76-based in the MT8192 and Cortex A78-based in the MT8195) and four smaller cores based on the Cortex A55, as well as a five-core Mali-G57 GPU. In order to support more advanced voice and video-based applications, such as noise reduction, live translation, background removal, etc., both chips also incorporate a MedaTek-designed APU (AI processing Unit)—version 2 in the 8192 and version 3 in the 8195. By the way, both chips also support HDR image processing for high-quality still and video image recording and playback, as well as Dolby Vision and 7.1 surround sound.

Until recently, the MediaTek name has not been widely known, but given the types of impressive, low-cost offerings it debuted here, as well as its forthcoming work with Intel, MediaTek is likely to be a brand that tech enthusiasts are going to get to know.

Here’s a link to the original column:

Bob O’Donnell is the president and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a market research firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech.

Leveraging more than 10 years of award-winning, professional radio experience, TECHnalysis Research participates in a video-based podcast called Everything Technology.
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