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MediaTek and TSMC trialing new 7nm smartphone processor with mad CPU core count

Posted: , by Luis D.

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MediaTek and TSMC trialing new 7nm smartphone processor with mad CPU core count

Sources close to the matters at hand report that Taiwanese silicon slinger TSMC will start trial production of a 12-CPU core chipset from MediaTek on a cutting-edge 7nm production process. The latter means that the new processor is expected to be faster and more power-efficient than 10nm chips before it – and here's why.

As for the nutsy number of CPU cores, 12 actually sounds like a logical upgrade from the 10-CPU core architecture that MediaTek pioneered with the Helio X20 and X25 chipsets from 2015. Despite this, such a number probably raises an eyebrow or two, for quad-core CPUs (like the Snapdragon 821) are still perfectly functional in this day and age. But MediaTek isn't overcompensating for something, it has merely chosen this approach to accomplish its goals for balancing performance and power efficiency.

Both TSMC and chip fabrication competitor Samsung have scheduled mass production of 7nm processors for early 2018, which means the 12-core processor will be available sometime in the first half of 2018. It also means that the eventual Samsung Galaxy S9 will, in all likelihood, have a 7nm chipset.

And you thought 10 CPU cores are enough?

Currently, MediaTek and TSMC are busy making a 10nm processor, the Helio X30, for China's peculiar "affordable high-end smartphone" market. The chipset is in mass production and scheduled for availability in the second quarter of 2017. TSMC's problematic initial yields of 10nm processors haven't changed shipping schedules for MediaTek, or other prolific TSMC clients, such as Apple.

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posted on 09 Mar 2017, 07:58

1. Mreveryphone (Posts: 982; Member since: 22 Apr 2014)


What high-end phone's have these processors in them?

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 08:06 2

3. AmashAziz (Posts: 655; Member since: 30 Jun 2014)


None. They aren't publicly available yet. Except the snapdragon 821 listed above. That's inside many flagships such as the LG G6, Oneplus 3T, Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe, and HTC U Ultra.

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 08:07 1

6. Nebice (Posts: 68; Member since: 05 Jan 2015)


a bunch of mid-highend chinese flagships (UMI / Elephone / ZTE / ...), but we'll see in 2018, guess some phones next year will come with 7nm, 6gb ram, 2k display

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 08:10

10. Mreveryphone (Posts: 982; Member since: 22 Apr 2014)


I should have been more specific... What high-end phone's do mediatek chips go in currently?

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 08:12 1

12. mr.reckless562 (Posts: 162; Member since: 22 Dec 2016)


now THIS is innovation!!!! suck it Iphone!!!!

way to keep all the other chip manufactures on their toes!!!

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 08:31

15. ibend (Posts: 6036; Member since: 30 Sep 2014)


--- reply to #10 (when will they fix this mess)
no one, since helio X always use weaker GPU (compared to other flagship processors), so it will stay as mid-ranger..
same for helio X30, even if it can beat other flagship processors in geekbench4. it also use outdated GPU, and will be placed in upper-midranger class at best..
AFAIK, the only flagship that use mediatek is Meizu (since Meizu has dispute with qualcomm, and didn't have another choice than using mediatek processor)

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 08:53

21. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 4163; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)


"approach to accomplish its goals for balancing performance and power efficiency..." this has been going on since dual core and now look at where we're at. Doesn't look like it's going to stop.

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 09:19

22. Mreveryphone (Posts: 982; Member since: 22 Apr 2014)


Agreed... This response algorithm is trash! Thanks for the insight!

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 10:09

26. Pabliell (Posts: 64; Member since: 22 Mar 2016)


I wouldn't call them 'high-end', because even the highest tier Helio X25/X27 is a mid-ranger compared to other SoCs. But some of LeEco, Meizu, Elephone and Xiaomi phones have Helio X20 or X25 inside.
This year Helio X30 will become available, but it still won't be a true high-end.

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 13:07 1

30. Guaire (Posts: 610; Member since: 15 Oct 2014)


So far Helio X line SoCs were always strictly midranger. There is no shame at selling midrange SoCs with midrange GPUs .

At the same price range their GPUs were competitive not weak, sometimes even a bit faster than others.

For example OEMs could have build a phone over X10 with similar cost a Snapdragon 615/617. There is a similar situation between Helio X20/X25 and Snapdragon 650/652.

Seems like first time with X30, Mediatek can compete on high-end class. Manufactured 10nm, supports UFS 2.1 fast storage and LPDDR4x RAM, also PowerVR 7XT Plus GPU is a current generation architechture. It might be a bit weaker than Adreno 540, but for the cost I don't think it can be considered as weak.

BTW Mali-T880 was not outdated.

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 16:54

32. HomerS (Posts: 303; Member since: 19 Sep 2014)


Not sure if serious or stupid.

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 21:39

34. Tondern (Posts: 130; Member since: 23 Feb 2015)


None. Having a Mediatek chip automatically disqualifies it as a high-end phone.

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 08:04 1

2. jack123 (Posts: 254; Member since: 07 Jan 2013)


Just curious, how small it can be in the few years?

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 08:10

9. Nebice (Posts: 68; Member since: 05 Jan 2015)


theorectially below

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 08:10

11. lallolu (Posts: 519; Member since: 18 Sep 2012)


1mm is the goal.

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 08:21 4

14. ibend (Posts: 6036; Member since: 30 Sep 2014)


1mm is 1,000,000nm..
just saying..

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 08:32

17. AmashAziz (Posts: 655; Member since: 30 Jun 2014)


Some sites are saying 1nm will be a dead end, but let's see......

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 08:35

18. AmashAziz (Posts: 655; Member since: 30 Jun 2014)


1nm, to correct you.

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 08:36

19. AmashAziz (Posts: 655; Member since: 30 Jun 2014)


No. 18 comment is a reply to no. 11. Phonearena's comment system is messed up!

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 08:07 2

4. Lodix (Posts: 8; Member since: 17 Mar 2015)


Samsung doesn't have planned 7nm for early 2018. The S9 probably will have a SOC build on 10nmLPPlus ( unless Qualcomm goes again to TSMC and have 7nm ready for Q1 mass production. ).

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 08:31

16. cmdacos (Posts: 232; Member since: 01 Nov 2016)


There is an article linked right below this one that clearly states Samsung is focused on delivering 7nm by early 2018 and hopefully in time for the s9 series.

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 09:39

24. Ordinary (Posts: 2415; Member since: 23 Apr 2015)


Well last time they went with TSMC it didnt end up well.

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 08:07

5. Medoohd (Posts: 16; Member since: 05 Mar 2017)


Samsung queen processors Nanometers accuracy

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 08:08 2

7. kerginaldo17 (Posts: 350; Member since: 01 Sep 2012)


And they will succeed. One characteristic of Asians is persistence.

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 08:19 1

13. ibend (Posts: 6036; Member since: 30 Sep 2014)


if it's failed... make 16-core...
still failed... make 20-core...
and so on..

and maybe one-day they can find their place in low-power data center... since microsoft making new windows server for ARM :D

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 09:35

23. hemedans (Posts: 587; Member since: 01 Jun 2013)


xeon phi use significant less power and offer better perfomance than any arm server cpu. they need miracle to compete with Intel.

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 09:49 1

25. marorun (Posts: 4569; Member since: 30 Mar 2015)


they should add more core to GPU instead of CPU... just saying..

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 08:50

20. Joms_US (Posts: 173; Member since: 02 Oct 2016)


These stupid chip designers should be shot in the head. Stop adding worthless cores and focus on improving the IPC. 4 cores in mobile platform are more than enough.

Qualcomm diverged again with worthless 8 core on 10nm. They should have improved instead the Kryo cores from SD821. 2.8-3Ghz Performance cores and 2.4Ghz Efficiency cores or better yet copy the AMD or Intel's implementation of Cool N Quiet / Speedstep and PowerNow / TurboCore

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 11:01

27. krystian (Posts: 380; Member since: 16 Mar 2016)


I want 2 billion cores at 1mhz each.

Honestly, I just don't see how all these cores help. When you think about programming with multi threads you generally want to create separate threads for different functionality outside of your main program. Managing multiple threads in your main program becomes a hassle. You have to make sure you lock loops, variables or anything else that another thread may change while one is working on it You don't have control over this so you have to put way more effort into it. There is way too much to keep track of so I don't think many people really create multithreaded apps. Most apps are fine with a single thread. There likely isn't a lot of android apps/games that even use multithreads. Most programs are created with ios in mind first. Logic must be maintained for all of a companies apps unless specific features are added to take advantage of an OS. But adding multi threading to one version and not another one would be a hassle especially when adding changes. IOS will always be what dictates how the code logic functions. Unless Apple starts adding tonnes of cores, no app will ever take advantage of it unless it's an android exclusive.

posted on 09 Mar 2017, 11:26

28. pissa (Posts: 3; Member since: 20 Jul 2015)


these Chinese guys r really something. They stopped copying others and r now copying their own products within their products. Instead of improving their cores they r duplicating them. Anyone with the simplest CPU knowledge would know that all these cores are unnecessary and any power consumption benefits could simply be achieved by throttling down your Cores instead of having lower powered cores accompanied by high power cores

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