MediaTek has launched the MT6795, their new high-powered offering for smartphone makers around the world. Has you may have heard before, MediaTek has been pushing 8-core processors very aggressively, to the point that other chip makers felt compelled to match this number. Of course, more cores aren’t always better, but there are instances where MediaTek thinks it can show the difference. This is one of those moments where we need real-world app benchmarks instead of synthetic tests.
In any case, the MT6795 features eight ARM A53 cores, which are not as powerful as the A57 ones, but I’m not sure that there is a practical way to cram eight A57 cores into an SoC in a cost-efficient way (let alone a power-efficient way!). To make this battery-friendly, MediaTek told me that they made tweaks to the Android thread scheduler in order to optimize how the work is dispatched to various cores.
The modifications are marketed under the Core Pilot name, so keep an eye out for that. Core Pilot can either distribute work to many cores to maximize speed whenever possible, or keep all the load on a single core to allow the 7 others to sleep. Not all software is multi-core friendly, but some basic apps such as web browsing can be efficiently handled by multiple threads and cores.
Also, the MT6795 is a 64-bit processor. We’ve covered the topic when the iPhone 5S came out, but the idea is that in time, 64-bit processors will be able to address more than 4GB of RAM, and given how fast mobile software is growing, phones will be ready when the time comes. There are also some performance benefits in having larger 64-bit registers (and more of them), but the most interesting aspect of 64-bit is the ability to have more memory.
Talking about memory, the MT6795 comes with a dual-channel memory bus, so its 15 GBps bandwidth is twice as high as previous MediaTek designs. Bandwidth, or the ability to move data fast, is critical in nearly every aspect of computing. Often, even supercomputers are limited by bandwidth rather than raw compute power. On mobile, it’s not an easy problem to solve because moving data also means consuming power, but being able to switch to “peak” performance, get the job done and go back to sleep has been a proven method to actually reduce power usage.
MediaTek also told us about some new video features. First, there hardware H.265 encoding which means smaller movie file size and practical 4K recording usage. Secondly, MediaTek expects to score well in 3D gaming and has provided us with benchmark numbers of around 80 FPS in the GLBenchmark 2.7 (T-Rex).
Finally, the MT6795 features an integrated LTE CAT4 modem, which has passed the China Unicom certification. MediaTek could not comment on other carriers other than saying that more certifications would be coming, most likely including the two most difficult in the world: AT&T and DoCoMo.
It’s always interesting to see new chips in a market that is dominated by Qualcomm. The 8-core approach is quite aggressive and could gather mindshare, as long as the battery life is kept under control. So far, MediaTek’s strategy has earned it a lot of fans worldwide, and the next question is: who will use it? We will know by the “end of year” (note that this could mean Chinese New Year), when handsets are being released. MediaTek told me that it’s up to their customers to announce products, but they will ship the chips in quantities towards September.