MediaTek Enters Mobile Quad-Core Arena with MT6589 System-on-a-Chip


MediaTek has just made its first entry into the emerging mobile quad-core chip market with the release of its new MT6589 quad-core system-on-a-chip (SoC), which comes with a fully integrated modem supporting HSPA+ and other standards.

The Taiwanese firm’s decision means that it will be taking on the likes of Samsung and Nvidia in one of the hottest new arenas in the chip making industry.

By integrating a modem into its quad-core chip, MediaTek says that it has achieved a notable industry first. The processor has been built based on the same design as ARM’s Cortex-A7 technology that is also going to be featured in Qualcomm’s soon-to-be-announced quad-core S4 chips.

However, MediaTek may have a considerable advantage over Qualcomm, in that their chips are expected to be ready for use in smartphones as early as the first quarter of next year. Qualcomm’s chips meanwhile, are not expected to be commercially available until late 2013.

For smartphone users, the advantages of these chip are obvious: as well as providing a much faster browsing experience, the MT6589 supports 1080p 30fps/30fps low-power video playback and recording, a 13MP camera, and up to a 1,920×1,080 resolution display.

Initial reports of the MT6589’s performance seem to be positive too, with Myriam Joire of Engadget benchmarking phones using the processors for the first time – we won’t republish her findings, but let’s just say that we’re mightily impressed with what we’ve seen. Essentially, the MT6589 can be best described as a slightly faster version of the dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4.

It remains to be seen whether or not the MT6589 will turn up in the US, as MediaTek chips are pretty uncommon outside of Asia, most probably due to patent issues. If it doesn’t appear on these shores it will be a bit of a shame, considering the present dearth of quad-core alternatives. Nvidia’s Tegra 3 is currently only used in HTC phones, and while the Galaxy SIII sports Samsung’s shiny new Exynos 4 Quadchip, that’s about all there is.

As always, we’ll keep you updated but so far no carriers have announced smartphones using the MT6589 yet.