Mediatek packs 10 cores into its Helio X20 SoC

The race to see who can pack the most cores into a mobile SoC is still on, apparently. Mediatek's latest, called the Helio X20, packs ten ARM cores onto its die.

ARM's big.LITTLE scheme combines high-performance Cortex-A57 (and soon, Cortex-A72) cores with smaller A53 cores for improved power efficiency. With that in mind, Mediatek's 10-core approach might be dubbed big.LITTLE.LITTLER. The Helio X20 features a pair of A72 cores running at 2.5GHz, plus eight more A53s—four running at 2GHz and four running at 1.4GHz. The diverse range of clock speeds on tap is supposed to allow devices to better match tasks with the most appropriate computing resources for the job.

This "Tri-Cluster" design, in conjunction with Mediatek's new CorePilot 3.0 scheduler, is said to result in 30% lower power consumption when compared to more traditional big.LITTLE designs (which Mediatek refers to as "dual cluster"). Whatever the jargon, it's an interesting approach.

Mediatek is rather cagey about the GPU in the X20. The spec sheet calls it an "ARM GPU MP4" running at 700MHz, and it's likely a member of the Mali-T800 series.

The wireless modem in the X20 will support Category 6 LTE with carrier aggregation. It can handle download speeds of up to 300Mbps, while uploads max out at 50Mbps. Other wireless standards supported include DC-HSPA+, TD-SCDMA, EDGE, and CDMA2000 1x/EVDO Rev.A.

Other goodies on the Helio X20 include support for 120Hz displays (albeit only at 1080p), dual main cameras with 3D depth processing, high-performance noise reduction for still images, and an integrated low-power sensor processor for tasks like music playback and voice activation. Mediatek expects the X20 to begin showing up in devices around the end of the year.

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