Current chipset industry status-quo under threat as Allwinner outs details around its new chips

Current chipset industry status-quo under threat as Allwinner outs details around its new chips
The rather stagnant status-quo in the chipset industry as of today may be shattered to pieces sooner than the big guys would like, as relatively smaller players are gunning for the top. One such player is Allwinner, and it's taking a pretty diverse approach on its way to carve a bigger share in the silicon business.

But before we get to Allwinner, let's dial back a bit. 

It's no secret that the mobile chipsets industry, is currently in a state close to a duopoly, at least as far as the Western hemisphere is concerned. We have Qualcomm with its diverse range of Snapdragon chipsets, the very best of which remain firmly dominant, and then there's the burgeoning Chinese MediaTek with its massive range of low-cost solutions, that have recently gotten hot on the heels of Qualcomm, and it's telling. Of course, we can't really talk about a duopoly on a world-wide scale, as other Chinese manufacturers such as the aforementioned Allwinner (claims to have the biggest share in the single/quad-core SoC business) and Rockchip are trying to push the envelope in the price conscious sector (until now) and even Intel is becoming a credible threat.

So, where's the fire, one might wonder. Allwinner, and its new chipsets, that's where. Sure, these are not going into commercialization until Q1 next year, yet the promise is definitely there, and we might finally have a Snapdragon 800-level dethroning (better late than never) in the form of Allwinner's new octa-core A80 chip. 

Much alike to MediaTek's new MT6592, the A80 will run a big.LITTLE configuration and will be able to take advantage of HPM (Heterogeneous Process Migration), which in plain English means that it'll be able to run a chosen cluster only, or run all eight cores at once whenever needed. Where Allwinner's chipset differs, however, is the fact that it'll utilize four ARM Cortex-A15 cores, along with four Cortex-A7 ones, unlike MediaTek which runs on eight of the latter. An Allwinner rep (see video) also mentioned that the A80 will have support for a number of other features, though we aren't in the know of what these might be. Anyway, it's certainly true that there are questions of energy efficiency, among others, though it's sort of safe to assume that performance will be on the bleeding edge.

We're also certainly not oblivious to the fact that optimizations for octa-core processors is close to non-existent and the jury is still out on their relative usefulness, so it's good to see that Allwinner isn't putting all its eggs in one basket. To that end, the 500 employee company will be introducing the quad-core A70 with 2x Cortex-A15 and 2x Cortex-A7 (big.LITTLE), and even a 64-bit SoC based on the ARMv8 Cortex-A57 and Cortex-A53, again in a big.LITTLE config. Allwinner is also prepping a few other less powerful chips for the ultra-affordable segment, and if you got to this part of the article, it's probably worth your time to go through the video below for the full disclosure. Last, but not least, it's also made obvious that Allwinner's ambitious transcend beyond Android, and it's obviously gunning for Windows (RT perhaps?) and even Chrome, leading us to believe it's true that the Chinese market never sleeps.

FEATURED VIDEO

28 Comments

1. kassi

Posts: 109; Member since: May 25, 2013

a17 or a7?

2. Chris.P

Posts: 567; Member since: Jun 27, 2013

A7, typo. o/

3. Shatter

Posts: 2036; Member since: May 29, 2013

.........

12. Pancholo

Posts: 380; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

Waste of bandwidth. ^ To make my post worthy, I shall comment: This looks to be a worse chip than MT's. I'll keep the current big boys out there; Innovation continues to come out between the competition regardless of the existence of this chip.

18. Shatter

Posts: 2036; Member since: May 29, 2013

Good thing I have unlimited internet.

4. KillerKeyboard

Posts: 372; Member since: Nov 21, 2013

ARM Mali T760 up for grabs. :-"

5. rawbow

Posts: 428; Member since: Mar 30, 2012

Would it kill them to have better names for their companies>>just my two cents This is pretty interesting. I always figured that the S800 would be dethroned by something Chinese. Let's see where this goes because efficiency (as you very well pointed out in the article) along with brute force would be the decider.

13. AppleHateBoy unregistered

Efficiency should be the number one priority going forward. We already have enough power in our smartphones. But what I want is a phone that doesn't die in 2 hours when I am gaming and doesn't lose more than 1% battery after a few hours of no use.

19. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Won't happen, you do know your cell phone is constantly checking for cell signal right? You know when you don't use your phone for a few hours this miraculous thing happens, you get a call. This can only happen because your phone is checking back with the towers to tell the tower it is still there. If it does not do this. You will literally move out of tower range and not sync with the next tower, then you will get no network signal even though your phone shows signal because it did not update. Hence, battery power used to keep checking back and forth.

24. WindowsiDroid

Posts: 138; Member since: Jul 22, 2013

Use Lenovo P780 or Motorola Droid Maxx? so even you play 2-5 hours only 10-20% will be consumed.

6. taikucing unregistered

isn't allwinner worse than mediatek? From what I've heard, Allwinner CPU doesn't even have bluetooth and GPS. I don't know if this one has GPS & BT

9. Shatter

Posts: 2036; Member since: May 29, 2013

Yes allwinner is worse.

7. sarge77

Posts: 202; Member since: Mar 14, 2013

lol still trying to get my hands on a nice solid quad core power house so you probably wont need a octa unless your running a server from smartphone all this power and yet nothing for battery technology.

8. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

I wonder when we will hear about 16-core SoCs (Moore's law and what-not)?

10. KillerKeyboard

Posts: 372; Member since: Nov 21, 2013

Xiaomi is already on it. ^^ M3V1 chip - I believe 5.0GHz, 32M cache, 14nm archi I forgot about the GPU support, though. Impractical, yes, for today's standards, but it's there.

22. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Ironically, I recently decided to take a pass on buying specs. My latest smartphone is the Droid Maxx. I still use a smartphone to make and receive calls, and testing the Maxx out at the VZW store, it had the best call clarity between the GS 4, G2, and the Note 3. Of course, I could change my mind if a new toy comes along that I just have to have. But for now, it is the Maxx.

11. guest

Posts: 368; Member since: Jun 13, 2012

*Yawn*

14. rd_nest

Posts: 1656; Member since: Jun 06, 2010

"HPM (Heterogeneous Process Migration), which in plain English means that it'll be able to run a chosen cluster only, or run all eight cores at once whenever needed..." Really? Is that the best definition you found for HMP. Did you even read anything on HMP? When someone claims that the definition of HMP is running a single cluster or running all 8 cores, I doubt the credibility of such editors. Have you even read the presentations from Linaro or ARM? Do you know that it's called GTS now? Really, such level of 'technical' reporting is shameful.

16. Chris.P

Posts: 567; Member since: Jun 27, 2013

This kind of 'technical reporting' is actually in tune with our audience which is far reaching, e.g. content could be quite technical, though the aim is to break it down in order to get the essence across to as many people as possible. And It's not a definition, it's an explanation. If you consider the first part of the sentence, it's actually correct (even if not sophisticated enough for your taste), at least to my knowledge. Feel free to correct me?

25. rd_nest

Posts: 1656; Member since: Jun 06, 2010

There are 3 models of for big.LITTLE. Some people will call it 2 models based on whether it's using IKS or GTS. IKS can be said to be an extension of DVFS. In either case, cluster migration and core migration are fundamentally similar technique, whereas GTS is totally different. What you say "it'll be able to run a chosen cluster only" is not HMP. This is cluster-migration technique. Source:http://www.arm.com/files/pdf/Advances_in_big.LITTLE_Technology_for_Power_and_Energy_Savings.pdf Page # 5. Quoted from that pdf: "There are in fact two types of migration: CPU Migration and Cluster migration. The initial exploration of big.LITTLE used cluster migration. With this approach, the entire context was migrated from all running Cortex-A7 CPUs to the same number of Cortex-A15 CPUs, and vice versa." Refer page # 6: "...termed big.LITTLE MP, which is fully heterogeneous scheduling. Whether a big processor needs to be powered on is determined by performance requirements of tasks currently executing."

26. troutsy

Posts: 378; Member since: Feb 17, 2012

I like Chris' explanation better.

27. rd_nest

Posts: 1656; Member since: Jun 06, 2010

It's not about liking something. It's what's right and what's wrong. For last time, "it'll be able to run a chosen cluster only" is NOT HMP. This is cluster migration model. HMP has nothing to do with cluster migration. It's not a question of 'liking' something. it's what it is - nobody is suddenly going to implement a new definition/explanation of HMP in phonearena forum. This use cases are first designed by ARM and implemented by Linaro with GTS. Point being, the explanation in this article is wrong. And there is no 2nd opinion about it. Read the pdf I mentioned earlier, not the 'likeliness' of comments.

17. deewinc

Posts: 454; Member since: Feb 21, 2013

Chris is right. He said "...in plain english..." meaning, in layman's language.

21. a_merryman

Posts: 749; Member since: Dec 14, 2011

If you want super technical and in-depth reporting you can always just go to anandtech. They go into a crazy amount of detail. The author clearly wants to make the concept understood to a wider audience and thus put what it basically does in plain English.

28. rd_nest

Posts: 1656; Member since: Jun 06, 2010

Sorry, but anandtech has nothing to do with it. Do you think anand lal shimpi and brian klug knows more about GTS compared to ARM and Linaro?? If you thought anand is the only guy who understands SOC, then I will say just 'hmm..'

15. jiezel91

Posts: 67; Member since: Jul 28, 2011

Still waiting for Rockchip to go full steam though...

20. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

I want upgradable cpu/gpu in my devices

23. TylerGrunter

Posts: 1544; Member since: Feb 16, 2012

Project Ara from Motorola!

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.