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MediaTek’s powerful Dimensity 1200 smartphone CPU will challenge Qualcomm

On Tuesday night, MediaTek launched the Dimensity 1100 and 1200, a pair of smartphone chipsets that aim to challenge the best that Qualcomm’s Snapdragon smartphone chipsets have to offer.

MediaTek released just two performance benchmarks to support its claims. But the specs of both the Dimensity 1100 and 1200 CPUs match up well against the Snapdragon 888, Qualcomm’s recent smartphone launch, with even higher clock speeds. There’s a good chance that you’ll have either one or the other in your next phone.

While Qualcomm tends to dominate the market for smartphone chipsets that cover premium phones, MediaTek is actually the largest smartphone chipset vendor in the world, with 31 percent market share, according to CounterPoint Research. MediaTek passed Qualcomm during the third quarter of 2020, thanks especially to the rise of midrange phones and MediaTek’s success in India and parts of Asia. MediaTek’s presence was helped by aggressive pricing moves to help the lower the cost of 5G phones, as well as support by phone makers like Xiaomi.

Those phone makers are apparently lining up yet again for the Dimensity 1200 and 1100, as MediaTek recorded support by Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo, and realme. The world’s cheapest 5G device, the realme V3, is already powered by MediaTek, Counterpoint noted.

“We’re going to continue to see 5G coming into all price points and we’re going to continue to work hard to make 5G available for everybody,” Finbarr Moynihan, general manager of corporate sales for MediaTek, said during a briefing with reporters. The new chipsets integrate the company’s existing M75 sub-6GHz 5G modem, he said, with support for FDD and TDD technologies and 5G “Elevator Mode” for smooth handoffs as the phone moves inside a building.

The Dimensity 1200’s CPU emphasizes speed

MediaTek’s Dimensity 1200 chipset mirrors Qualcomm’s Snapdragon designs: one “ultra” core for ultimate performance, plus three “super cores” for the bulk of the workload and four “efficiency” cores for low-power tasks. The 1100 foregoes the additional ultra core, balancing the four “super cores” with an additional four efficiency cores. Both the 1200 and 1100 chips are fabricated on a 6nm process.

mediatek 1200 and 1100 overview 1 MediaTek

The Dimensity 1200 and 1100 are designed in a familiar “big-little” way.

What’s interesting, though, is the Dimensity 1200 runs at higher clock speeds. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 uses a 2.84GHz X1 core as its ultra or “prime” core, followed by three 2.4GHz Cortex-A78 prime cores and four 1.8GHz A55 efficiency cores. The MediaTek Dimensity 1200 uses a 3GHz Cortex-A78 as the ultra core, three 2.6GHz Cortex-A78 super cores, and four 2GHz A55 chips as its efficiency cores. Both Dimensity chipsets have a nine-core Arm Mali-G77 GPU, MediaTek added.

The key difference is what Qualcomm calls its X1 core, which the company has said offers 20 percent more performance than the Cortex-A78. Is the Dimensity as powerful as the Snapdragon 888? On paper, it’s hard to tell: The 1200’s increase in clock speed offers just a 6-percent improvement over the Snapdragon 888. MediaTek also characterized the chip as capable of displaying a “smooth 90 frames per second” in the mobile version of Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds.

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