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.
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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33 Comments

1. Mreveryphone

Posts: 1850; Member since: Apr 22, 2014

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

3. AmashAziz

Posts: 2934; Member since: Jun 30, 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.

10. Mreveryphone

Posts: 1850; Member since: Apr 22, 2014

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

15. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 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 it also use outdated GPU, and will be placed in upper-midranger class at best..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)

22. Mreveryphone

Posts: 1850; Member since: Apr 22, 2014

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

30. Guaire

Posts: 896; Member since: Oct 15, 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.

26. Pabliell

Posts: 187; Member since: Mar 22, 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.

34. Tondern

Posts: 164; Member since: Feb 23, 2015

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

21. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 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.

6. Nebice

Posts: 68; Member since: Jan 05, 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

12. mr.reckless562

Posts: 162; Member since: Dec 22, 2016

now THIS is innovation!!!! suck it Iphone!!!! way to keep all the other chip manufactures on their toes!!!

32. HomerS

Posts: 419; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

Not sure if serious or stupid.

2. jack123

Posts: 278; Member since: Jan 07, 2013

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

9. Nebice

Posts: 68; Member since: Jan 05, 2015

theorectially below

11. lallolu

Posts: 734; Member since: Sep 18, 2012

1mm is the goal.

14. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

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

18. AmashAziz

Posts: 2934; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

1nm, to correct you.

19. AmashAziz

Posts: 2934; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

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

17. AmashAziz

Posts: 2934; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

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

4. Lodix

Posts: 9; Member since: Mar 17, 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. ).

16. cmdacos

Posts: 4334; Member since: Nov 01, 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.

24. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

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

5. Medoohd

Posts: 16; Member since: Mar 05, 2017

Samsung queen processors Nanometers accuracy

7. kerginaldo17 unregistered

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

13. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 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

23. hemedans

Posts: 761; Member since: Jun 01, 2013

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

25. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

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

20. Joms_US

Posts: 201; Member since: Oct 02, 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

27. krystian

Posts: 423; Member since: Mar 16, 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.

28. pissa

Posts: 3; Member since: Jul 20, 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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