MediaTek formally pulls open G85 SoC drawer, reveals chipset for next-gen budget blowers

Clock speed? Up to 2GHz. 5G radio baked in? Nope

Taiwanese chipmaker MediaTek has officially launched its latest G85 chipset, days after it appeared in the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9. The platform stays faithful to the company's playbook, and is a solid mid-range SoC, with an emphasis on graphics performance.

The chip uses a 12nm process, and features eight cores arranged in a big.LITTLE pattern, with two high-performance Arm Cortex-A75 cores clocked up to 2GHz, accompanied by six Cortex-A55 cores running at 1.8GHz.

Like its predecessor, the MediaTek G80, this effort re-uses the same Mali-G52 GPU. However, the clock speed is bumped slightly, from 950MHz to 1GHz. This is augmented with MediaTek's HyperEngine management tool, which appeared on its predecessor, and automatically optimises CPU, GPU, and memory based on the present circumstances: like CPU temperature, power consumption, and "gameplay factors."

Another feature carried over from the MediaTek G80 is the firm's Voice on Wakeup (VoW) technology, which is designed to reduce the power drain from voice assistant technologies, such as Google Assistant.

Hinting towards the G85's role as a platform primarily for budget-friendly blowers, the chipset only supports 2520 x 1080 60Hz displays. This comes at a time when an increasing number of phones are packing screens with refresh rates of 90Hz and even 120Hz.

The chip's ISP (Image Signal Processor) supports camera resolutions up to 48MP, like Sony's IMX586 and IMX689 sensors, which have quickly become a staple of phones within the £200 to £400 price range. This is augmented by MediaTek's usual hardware and AI-based image enhancing tools, as well as the ability to record footage at 240fps (although it's not immediately clear at what resolution).

Predictably, there's no 5G radio baked in. It does, however, support dual 4G SIMS, and can switch between Wi-Fi and cellular in 13ms. It can also defer incoming calls while in-game, without also dropping the data connection.

The MediaTek G85 is already being shipped to OEMs, with its launch device, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 9, released today in India. Other manufacturers will also inevitably follow suit, given MediaTek's position as the preferred SoC for budget devices.

But the Taiwanese fabless chipmaker is gradually marching northwards into the more aspirational sector of the smartphone market, with the Helio P90 appearing in the upcoming OPPO Reno 3 flagship and previously the Reno Z. And while chips like the G85 remain the firm's bread-and-butter, it's obvious MediaTek doesn't want to remain limited to the lower-third of the smartphone market. ®

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