MediaTek Helio P60 SoC offers AI acceleration for all


In the mobile SoC world you mostly hear about Samsung's Exynos, Qualcomm's Snapdragon, and Apple's A-series SoCs. Those companies aren't the only ones making miniature microprocessors for mobile systems, though. At MWC, MediaTek announced its Helio P60 SoC. The new chip seems aimed to compete with the heavywights discussed above, as it comes with an AI accelerator not unlike those found in recent ARM-based offerings.

First off, the base specs. The Helio P60 is an eight-core SoC with four ARM Cortex-A73s and four Cortex-A53s. As usual, they're set up in ARM's big.LITTLE configuration, meaning that the Cortex-A73s spin up to handle computationally-demanding tasks and let the ultra-low-power Cortex-A53s run the rest of the show. All eight cores can be configured to run at up to 2.0 GHz. The graphics hardware in the Helio P60 is likewise based on an ARM design, in this case the Mali-G72 MP3.

More specifically, the company claims the Helio P60 has 70% faster CPU and GPU performance than its predecessor P23. The new Helio P60 should also be around 12% more power-efficient as its older brother and is 25% more efficient while gaming. MediaTek says the Helio P60 is fabricated on TSMC's 12-nm process, and that the new chip is its most efficient Helio P-series offering yet.

Of course, the implementation details will be up to device vendors, but those companies will be able to hook up the Helio P60 to up to 8 GB of LPDDR4X memory running at up to 3600 MT/s. The SoC also supports a single camera with up to a 32-MP sensor or dual cameras with sensors as big as 20 MP and 16 MP. Like most of its contemporaries, the Helio P60 has myriad specialized application processors built in, and its image signal processor supports HDR recording as well as AI-powered image enhancements.

Those image enhancements come courtesy of the newest feature to grace the Helio line, MediaTek's NeuroPilot AI accelerator. Like similar functional units in other companies' SoCs, NeuroPilot is a DSP intended to accelerate AI inferencing. MediaTek suggests that besides improving pictures, NeuroPilot could also be used for real-time overlays and AR acceleration. NeuroPilot supports Android's NNAPI as well as the TensorFlow, Caffe, and Caffe2 AI frameworks.

MediaTek aims the Helio P60 directly at the smartphone market, and to that end it includes a 4G LTE modem with dual-VoLTE support. You won't have to wait long to see the Helio P60 in phones, either—MediaTek says you should start seeing devices with it pop up as early as next month.

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