With octa-core CPUs now standard in high-end and mid-tier devices, MediaTek is the first to offer an SoC with a deca-core CPU. The SoC is the second in the Helio architecture, and comes with a tri-cluster design that allows MediaTek to use three different processing cores.
The Helio X20’s CPU cluster consists of four energy-efficient Cortex A53 cores clocked at 1.4GHz, four Cortex A53 cores clocked at a higher 2.0GHz and two performance-driven Cortex A72 cores at 2.5GHz. This is the first time we’re seeing ARM’s latest Cortex A72 in a commercial SoC, although with the Helio X20’s availability set for sometime later this year, it’ll be a while before consumers can get their hands on a phone with the Cortex A72 core.
The SoC also has a dedicated Cortex-M4 core for always-on voice recognition and sensor data processing. The Helio X20 is the first to feature a Mali T800 GPU, with MediaTek quoting significant increases in performance from the Mali T700 series. Other hardware features of the SoC include MediaTek’s own LTE Category 6 modem, which is one of the first from a non-Qualcomm vendor to be compatible with CDMA2000. The integration is a huge deal for MediaTek as it tries to breach the high-end segment in the U.S.
To facilitate a tri-cluster design, MediaTek has had to use a custom interconnect, which is dubbed the MediaTek Coherent System Interconnect. The end result of a tri-cluster design is to reduce energy consumption, with the Helio X20 said to be nearly 30% more efficient than the Helio X10. MediaTek has made significant strides in the entry-level segment, mainly in growth markets like China and India, and now it is looking to the mid-tier and high-end categories with the Helio X20. It will be interesting to see, given the LTE Cat 6 modem, if the Taiwanese vendor is able to steal Qualcomm’s market share even further.