The goal is to introduce hardware capabilities required for Smart TVs’ evolution in the next 3-5 years. Unlike smartphones, people upgrade their TVs every 5-10 years (or more!), so it’s essential to see how much can be squeezed from the technology that ships in the TV. In a way, this is very similar to the leap introduced by next-generation consoles.
In the past, television processors have been poor cousins to even mid-range smartphones. While handsets will continue to hold a technological advantage (in the short term), the Pentonic 2000 might be the most advanced in its category."THIS IS LEADING-EDGE"
First, it is built on a 7nm (nanometers) advanced semiconductor process at TSMC. It’s not as edgy as the 4nm Dimensity 9000 smartphone chip, but for context, 7nm is more advanced than the majority of PC processors on the market. In the world of televisions, this is leading-edge.
There’s a reason for requiring such tiny transistors: MediaTek needs to vastly increase the computing capabilities within a small physical surface, so decreasing the transistor size and power requirements yield the desired price/performance outcomes for the TV market. It’s all a balancing act, and going high-tech is the only way to make this work.
According to MediaTek, the Pentonic 2000’s CPU is 3.7X faster, and its GPU is 4.9X faster than “mainstream 4K TVs”. It might be a bit vague, but it’s also probably true since “mainstream” (= not high-end) TVs often have bare minimum performance characteristics."8X MORE PIXEL ELEMENTS TO PROCESS WITH POTENTIALLY MUCH MORE COMPLEX ALGORITHMS"
Going from 4K to 8K already quadruples the number of pixels, and going from 60Hz to 120Hz doubles the potential computing needs again. Having 8X more pixel elements to process with potentially much more complex algorithms is an immense workload increase in an industry that was primarily happy with low-cost hardware.
The Pentonic 2000 is designed to run at 8K/120Hz running advanced AI image processing and filtering. That includes compressed video steaming that needs decoding and upscaling inside the TV.
At the conference, MediaTek’s Alfred Chan (Vice President of TV BU, Smart Home Business Group) gave us an excellent overview of MediaTek’s vision of where Smart TVs are going.
Essentially, MediaTek sees the television market entering an era where computing requirements will significantly increase because several factors converge.
During the pandemic, the ubiquity of video conferencing has durably impacted the way people work. It is likely that even after a return to normalcy, the productivity gains and workflows linked to video-conferencing will remain. The company and its partners bet that televisions would be a natural platform for this.
Handling a few to a dozen simultaneous video streams, including screen sharing, needs a very different software architecture, and that’s one of the things MediaTek claims to have rebuilt from the ground up.
8K resolution availability will inevitably arise, including the commercial space. When you have that many pixels, just moving data around becomes a significant bottleneck, and older system architectures can’t offer the required bandwidth."A VERY DIFFERENT SOFTWARE ARCHITECTURE"
To manage this, the company says it has optimized the internal bandwidth usage while scaling the computing resources simultaneously. A mix of specialized hardware and heterogenous units are integrated to handle every task at the best possible power efficiency.
Even though there’s no fundamental power limitation on a TV, superior efficiency has cost implications on the chip design, manufacturing, and alternate usages/markets.
As a result, MediaTek says the Pentonic 2000 is fast enough to run AI image filtering even on real-time video games, which means the latency is kept at a minimum, perhaps as low as one to three ms.
Finally, Smart TVs need high-speed, low latency connectivity. WiFi-6E is a given since it’s the latest industry standard. However, there’s also a 5G option, and while this may sound bizarre to have 5G in a TV, keep in mind that some regions have better 5G than fixed internet deployments. Secondly, wireless carriers might compete with cable operators since 5G technology has higher momentum and fewer regulations than wired alternatives.
Today’s most advanced television already gets PC gaming capabilities via clouds like NVIDIA’s. Expect this to become more and more common with other vendors.
If you want to see all the fine prints and specs of the MediaTek Pentonic 2000, check the official product page, the MediaTek Pentonic 2000 infographic, and the MediaTek TV hub. The overall takeaway is that Smart TVs are about to get a lot more exciting in the next few years. MediaTek estimates that 60%+ of today’s televisions are powered by its chips, so it has no choice but to lead the charge.