MediaTek's latest chip promises 5G for the proles: Destined for those not-so-high end smartmobes

Pops head around door into party: Oh Qualcomm, you're here too?

Taiwanese fabless chipmaker MediaTek today introduced its latest 5G platform for mass-market (affordable) devices: the Dimensity 700.

Built with a 7nm process, this octa-core chip uses two Arm Cortex-A76 cores clocked at up to 2.2GHz, with a further six low-power A55 cores in tow.

This configuration betrays the low-end orientation of the Dimensity 700; the Cortex-A76 was first sold in 2019 and has since been surpassed by the A77 microarchitecture, which offers up to 35 per cent performance gains according to Arm. Broadly speaking, it's a cheaper version of the Dimensity 720, released earlier this year.

Connectivity is heavily emphasised here, and the Dimensity 700 holds the distinction of being one of the few platforms capable of supporting dual 5G SIMs in concurrent use.

This is one area where arch-rival Qualcomm lags when compared to MediaTek, which first rolled out the feature with its Dimensity 1000 platform. But it's also a design decision that makes a lot of sense when considering that MediaTek's biggest markets are in Asia (it was the largest mobile processor vendor in China during Q2 2020, according to analyst house Digitimes Research), where users routinely juggle two SIMs at a time.

Other features include 5G CA, which was designed to allow the chip to use multiple spectrum channels at the same time, in turn providing faster, more stable connections with wider availability. There's also MediaTek's proprietary 5G UltraSave wares, built with power consumption reduction in mind. 5G is notorious for being power thirsty, with some estimates fingering the drain at 20 per cent higher than bog-standard LTE.

Besides that, there's support for UFS 2.2 storage, LPDDR4x memory, and fast 90Hz displays with resolutions up to FHD+. The Dimensity 700's image signal processor (ISP) is capable of handling 64MP sensors, and comes with various AI-based photo enhancements, including colour improvements.

With this chip, MediaTek has become able to show it has 5G chipsets that cater to all tiers of the smartphone market. The Dimensity 1000 and 1000L allow MediaTek to target the aspirational and flagship spaces, while the Dimensity 800 series is broadly analogous to Qualcomm's crowd-pleasing Snapdragon 765G silicon, which sells in the £300 to £500 segment.

The Dimensity 700 is MediaTek's shot at addressing its final 5G blind spot: everything lower than that. This segment is attracting attention from Qualcomm, which recently introduced its Snapdragon 690 platform, and is set to follow up with a cheaper-still 400-series 5G platform next year.

The first Dimensity 700 phones will land in Q1 2021 with a price range of $250 and below.

MediaTek has also showed off its yet-unnamed premium silicon, which it hopes will appear on future flagship devices. The chip will use TSMC’s 6nm process, as well as ARM’s yet-unreleased Cortex A78 microarchitecture with cores clocked at up to 3 GHz.

The first devices using this silicon are expected to arrive next year, although exact details about availability are not yet known.®

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