It's MediaTek v Qualcomm in the motherboard of all battles

Rumours and leaks for 2016's hottest processors

The two big boys of the mobile chip world, MediaTek and Qualcomm, are about to see their flagship products – the Helio X20 and Snapdragon 820 respectively – come to market, with details starting to emerge; and it's likely to be all about the numbers.

MediTek has ten cores to Qualcomm’s eight, but Qualcomm has taken the canny move of announcing the new processor in bits and pieces. First, the San Diego-based company published details of its Adreno graphics co-processor, then the company revealed that it will use the Zeroth cognitive computing platform as a more intuitive way to detect malware and enhance privacy.

Now Qualcomm Technologies has revealed more details on Kryo, its first custom 64-bit CPU, which was shown at Mobile World Congress in March.

This will be introduced with the launch of the Snapdragon 820, alongside its new Symphony System Manager. At its core, the Kryo is an ARM processor, but it's a Qualcomm implementation of the architecture, rather than an ARM one.

“Kryo is being manufactured on the latest 14nm FinFET technology and is designed to reach speeds up to 2.2GHz," said Qualcomm. "With Kryo CPU and Snapdragon 820, you can expect up to two times the performance and up to two times the power efficiency when compared with the Snapdragon 810 processor.”

“When combined with the other heterogeneous elements of the Snapdragon 820," added Qualcomm, "Kryo is instrumental in delivering the user experience, innovation, and efficiency that defines Snapdragon 820”, which might be another way of saying that although the MediaTek chip has ten cores, the Kryo can see off the X20.

The Helio X20 has a Tri-Cluster CPU architecture: two ARM Cortex-A72 cores (running at 2.5GHz for extreme performance), and two clusters of four ARM Cortex-A53 cores (one running at 2.0GHz for medium loads and one running at 1.4GHz for light activities).

Qualcomm’s stating that the 820 will be on a 14nm process ties in nicely with a rumour reported on Samsung fanboi site Sammobile that Samsung is already testing such a chip as for a “Galaxy S7”, to replace, or provide an alternative to, the Exynos processor in the S6.

Getting back into the Samsung flagship would be a major coup for Qualcomm which is having its mobile market leading position threatened by MediaTek.

In a leak on the forthcoming Xiaomi Mi 5 phablet the 20nm MediaTek chip clocked a leaderboard topping AnTuTu score of 73075.

The eight core Exynos E7420 powered Galaxy S6 scores 68830 and for comparison the Xiaomi MI NOTE Pro scores 53937.

The benchmark incorporates a number of tests including i/o and memory, so Qualcomm’s post that the Snapdragon 820 is twice the speed of an 810 can’t be directly interpreted to mean the phone is twice the speed.

It should however be a pretty close run thing between the X20 and the 820. ®

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