Mediatek launches MT6589 as first ARM Cortex-A7 quad-core

Today Mediatek took the stage to launch their newest contribution to the world of smartphone platforms. They presented nothing less than the much-anticipated quad-core MT6589 chipset. It is the successor to their extremely popular MT6577 dual-core product. As a little extra it is not only the first quad-core chipset in Mediatek’s portfolio but it is also the first quad-core silicon-on-chip (SOC) design that implements ARMs Cortex A7 architecture.

Hey wait, wasn’t the MT6577 a Cortex A9 design? Why is the new product “only” a Cortex A7? Is this really an improvement? The answer is yes. You can argue whether ARMs numbering scheme makes sense or not but the Cortex A7 is indeed a successor to Cortex A9. It has an identical architecture and feature set to the to Cortex A15 architecture. The only difference is that the Cortex A7 processor’s microarchitecture has been optimized to provide optimum energy efficiency. Thus at the bottom line the computing power of the new Cortex A7 quad-core should be well above previous Cortex A8 designs (like Apple A4, Samsung Exynos 3110 and TI OMAP3) and should be similar to current Cortex A9 designs (like Apple A5, Nvidia Tegra 3, Samsung Exynos 4xxx).

But number crunching is not all that is needed for a good smartphone chipset. Decent graphics is a must, too. Thus Mediatek teamed up with Imagination Technologies again and integrated a state-of-the-art PowerVR™ Series5XT SGX544 graphics unit (GPU). This is said to show around twice the performance of previous generation devices while maintaining the lowest possible power consumption and silicon area. Thus the MT6589 will support 1080p 30fps video playback and recording, 13MP Cameras and up to 1920×1080 (Full HD) LCD displays. The 3D rendering capabilities include a triangular output rate of 55M/s and a pixel fill rate for the 1600M/s. Mediatek’s “Cool 3D” feature adds support for stereo 3D cameras, display, 2D-to-3D conversion and a 3D user interface.

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As HDMI interfaces are dying out in smartphones the MT6589 also supports wireless video output using Miracast™ technology. Needless to say that other standard interfaces like 802.11n Wi-Fi, BT4.0, GPS and FM are also supported by the MT6589 platform. For wireless data connections the MT6589 has a multi-mode UMTS HSPA+/TD-SCDMA modem. LTE is not yet on board. Like all the previous Mediatek platforms the new quad-core also supports Dual-SIM, Dual-Active functionality.

Mediatek uses modern 28nm manufacturing technology (probably from TSMC) to build the MT6589 chipset. This is a big step as the previous MT6577 was still manufactured in 40 nm CMOS technology. Rumor has it that this step in manufacturing technology will make the new MT6589 even cheaper to build than its predecessor MT6577. Thus the ambition of proving high performance at an affordable price might come true with this platform.

According to Mediatek the MT6589 platform is currently being incorporated into smartphones by Mediatek’s customers. Leading partners for the first models are likely to be TCL (with new Alcatel One Touch models) and Lenovo. and First models based on the chipset are expected to ship in Q1 2013. I can’t wait to see the first models based on the MT6589 chipset. Stay tuned to hear all news about the first products with MT6589

Sources: Mediatek Press Release, ARM Cortex A7

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