MediaTek’s 5G SoC is a groundbreaking, integrated 5G chip for smartphones

mediatek 5g plans office
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

During Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year, MediaTek demonstrated its M70 5G modem and showed it connecting to a Nokia base station at 4.7Gbps. Now, the company has announced the M70 modem will be integrated into a brand-new, world first 5G system-on-a-chip (SoC). It’s called, rather generically, the MediaTek 5G SoC, and it’s considerably more groundbreaking that its name suggests.

It’s the world’s first integrated 5G chip, built on the 7nm process, that’s ready to connect your smartphone to Sub-6 5G signals. That means no separate 5G modems split off from the CPU, and because it’s built using a 7nm process, it dissipates heat more effectively, meaning improved energy management for higher performance. This will be particularly noticeable when using artificial intelligence and features reliant on the GPU, says MediaTek.

The A.I. inside MediaTek’s 5G SoC is driven by the third-generation APU, or A.I. Processing Unit, which surpasses version two integrated into the Helio P90 processor. MediaTek’s A.I. efforts may not have captured headlines in the way Huawei’s NPU has, but it’s similarly impressive in the way that it deals with onboard A.I. processing, and MediaTek promises version three will provide, “substantially higher performance than before.” MediaTek is also proud to be the first to build a chip on ARM’s latest Cortex A77 — which is specifically designed for 5G applications — complete with the new Mali A77 GPU.

mediatek 5g soc news

On the photographic side, the 5G SoC supports cameras with up to 80 megapixels, and this could mean multiple sensors too — a 48-megapixel sensor, a 20-megapixel sensor, and a 12-megapixel sensor for example. For video, it supports 4K resolution recordings at 60 fps. MediaTek recognizes it needed more than just 5G to attract manufacturers to use the new chip, which is why it has boosted A.I. ability, used the ARM Cortex A77, and supports a strong camera array.

Premium 5G experience

For a while, MediaTek has concentrated on devices that fall into its, “new premium” category of high performing, midrange devices. However, this did not stop questions about its true premium efforts. The 5G SoC is its answer, and MediaTek’s Senior Director Russ Mestechkin said the chip and its A.I. is, “No compromise, best in class, and superior to the competition.”

What MediaTek’s new 5G won’t do is support mmWave 5G connections. It’s focused on Sub-6 connections, which will be behind the majority of 5G devices launching in China, and is also supported by T-Mobile and Sprint in the U.S. MediaTek is closely watching the situation regarding the merger between these two companies. In February, Qualcomm announced the world’s first integrated 5G SoC that can connect to both mmWave and Sub-6 5G signals.

MediaTek expects to start sending samples of the 5G SoC to its partners before the end of 2019, ready for the first devices powered by the chip to launch during the first three months of 2020. Next year demand for 5G phones at all price points will accelerate beyond the early adopter, high price phase in 2019, and we’ve no reason to doubt that even with a true premium spec, MediaTek’s 5G SoC will be prohibitively priced, allowing more manufacturers to make desirable 5G smartphones that deliver 5G speeds without compromise.


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