MediaTek has announced its newest processor, the Dimensity 9000. Although the Taiwanese manufacturer highlights the fact that the chip is the first in the world – publicly announced – to be produced in the “4 nm” process, perhaps the biggest highlight is even the fact that it uses the new high-performance ARM Cortex-X2 CPU cores and the first compatible with the new AR9Mv architecture.
Straight to the point:
- Dimensity 9000 is the first SoC announced at 4 nm, before Apple, Qualcomm, Samsung and others;
- Processor is the first announced with the new high-performance Cortex-X2 CPUs;
- MediaTek promises a 35% performance jump over the current “Android flagship”;
- Processor presentation slides highlight several “for the first time”.
While generally all attention is turned to Qualcomm and Samsung with their Snapdragon and Exynos processors, respectively, MediaTek has slowly been stealing the spotlight. It wasn’t enough to have become the largest supplier of Smartphone SoCs throughout 2021, now the company can boast of debuting new manufacturing processes, cores and CPU architectures.
- Read also: Complete processor guide for smartphones
Traditionally, the Taiwanese company was the typical “follower of leaders,” adopting already mature – and inexpensive – designs and lithographs debuted by leaders including HiSilicon, a Huawei subsidiary that was the only other than Apple to use the TSMC N5 process for a smartphone SoC, while snapdragon 888 and Exynos 2100 were later released, manufactured in the Samsung 5LPE process.
The highlight of the Dimensity 9000 is exactly lithography, using the TSMC N4 manufacturing process — popularly known as 4 nm. In addition to the advantages of smaller occupied area, in practice, the biggest leap for consumers is the reduction in energy consumption compared to other manufacturing generations, especially in relation to Samsung Foundry processes, generally less efficient than those of TSMC.
According to MediaTek, the Dimensity 9000 is up to 37% more efficient than the “Android Flagship”, presumably the Snapdragon 888. At the same time, it’s up to 35% more powerful in terms of performance, something we’re already looking forward to testing.
MediaTek detailed up the cache configuration of the new SoC / © MediaTek
New generation of ARM CPUs
One of the reasons for the performance jump is the use of ARM’s new CPU cores, with the new ARMv9 architecture —another dimensity 9000 pioneering—for comparison, the previous architecture, ARMv8, was inaugurated on a personal device by Apple with the IPhone 5S A7.
MediaTek is the first company to announce a SoC with the new cores, with emphasis on the high-performance Cortex-X2, associated with the Cortex-A710 and A510 cores, using a 1+3+4 configuration. The use of the X2 alone is another new point of the manufacturer, which did not even use the Cortex-X1 CPU — found on the Snapdragon 888, Exynos 2100 and Google Tensor.
Other pioneering tools
Not enough of the previous editions, the Dimensity 9000 is the first SoC announced with support of the new LPPDR5x RAM standard, which promises shorter access time (latency) with a higher data transfer rate. Even so, the processor is compatible with the LPDDR5 standard, with higher and cheaper availability.
And just as the processor was first announced with ARM’s new CPU cores, the Dimensity 9000 will also debut the new Mali-G710 GPU. At this point, MediaTek may be the only one to adopt the graphics processor, considering that Apple and Qualcomm use their own designs, while Samsung should adopt in their upcoming premium SoCs a GPU based on AMD’s RDNA2.
Not to be accused of recycling the (several) slides with “World’s 1st”, MediaTek changed the font used in the phrase / © MediaTek
Here also the Taiwanese company announces a 35% performance jump compared to the same “Android Flagship”. At this point, however, there is reason for a little skepticism, since MediaTek is usually conservative in the number of graphic cores employed: in the case of Dimensity 9000 there are 10 Mali-G710 GPUs.
I explain: the Dimensity 1000/1100/1200 generation uses 9 Mali-G77 cores, while rival flagship chips such as the Exynos 2100 and Kirin 9000 employ 14 and 24 cores, respectively, which explains the advantage in games (and benchmarks) of rivals.
With future Exynos adopting AMD GPUs, it is possible that the advantage of the Dimensity 9000 disappears even before it comes to market, depending on when the processor will be adopted by mobile phone manufacturers.
Other SoC Blocks
MediaTek also highlighted the new artificial intelligence (NPU) cores, 400% faster and 400% more efficient than the previous generation (Dimensity 1200), in addition to the new image processor (ISP) Imagiq 790. Responsible for receiving images from the device’s cameras, the component is now compatible with sensors up to 320 megapixels of resolution, with processing power of up to 9 gigapixels per second, adding up to three cameras simultaneously.
The video processor is compatible with 8K resolution videos compressed by the new video format (codec) AV1 — but it still doesn’t allow recording to the codec. And for displays, the Dimensity 9000 is compatible with high refresh rates, up to 180 Hz in FullHD+ and 144 Hz in WQHD+ (1440p+), already anticipating the trend of increasingly fluid displays.
As it is a processor of the Dimensity family, the 9000 includes MediaTek’s own 5G modem, which promises (theoretical) speeds of up to 7 Gbps. As in previous generations, the Dimensity 9000 is not compatible with mmWave frequency bands, which are practically only found on US carriers and Qualcomm modems (which also equip iPhones 12 and 13). In addition, Dimensity is compatible with 6GHz Wi-Fi 6E.
Company also announced the first implementation of the Bluetooth 5.3 / © MediaTek standard
MediaTek Dimensity 9000: launch and availability
Presented on Thursday (18), the Dimensity 9000 is expected to hit the shelves equipging mobile phones in the first quarter of 2022. As is often the case with advance ads for mobile chips, the company has not disclosed which models should be equipped with the new SoC.
MediaTek’s new processor is expected to have strong competition early next year, when qualcomm’s flagship rivals (known so far as Snapdragon 898, or 8gen1) and Samsung (Exynos 2200) are also expected. It remains to be seen not only how the chips are compared in terms of performance, but also whether MediaTek will be able to convince mobile phone manufacturers to adopt Dimensity 9000.
In addition, it is possible that some of the “for the first time” announced by the company will be brought down by rivals, as the next Snapdragon and Exynos are expected with a similar CPUs configuration. And in the case of the new Snapdragon, which is due to be announced at the end of November, it is possible that it will debut still in 2021, equipling the expected Xiaomi 12.
The Dimensity 9000 has everything to maintain MediaTek’s great phase in the mobile processor market, taking advantage of the company’s timing during the popularization of 5G —not only in rich countries, but also in emerging markets—with the launch of next-generation SoCs in price ranges ahead of rivals.
In addition, the manufacturer takes advantage of the diversification of mobile phone brands from its component suppliers —something that has also benefited the almost unknown UniSOC—while occupying the void left by Huawei/HiSilicon in the mid-and-premium segments, especially in the Chinese market.
Another point to highlight is the fact that the Taiwanese debut a manufacturing process of the countrywoman TSMC, while direct rival Qualcomm had to migrate its top-of-the-line chip to manufacture at Samsung Foundry, less energy efficient and heat dissipation.
More important perhaps than pioneering, is the fact that the company was able to break Apple’s virtual exclusivity in TSMC’s most advanced manufacturing processes, responsible for producing the A14, A15 and M1 chips at 5 nm. Meanwhile, video game SoCs, VIDEO card GPUs, and other high-demand components continue to use processes from previous generations.