MediaTek unveils quad-core smartphone chipset

Taiwanese chipmaker joins Samsung and Nvidia in the space for mobile quad-core chipsets, and targets mid to high-end smartphones and China market.

Taiwanese mobile chipset maker MediaTek has unveiled its first quad-core chipset for smartphones, as it moves to compete with U.S. rival Qualcomm.

The company said its latest chipset, dubbed MT6589, will be used in mid to high-end smartphones set to hit the market next quarter, Taipei Times reported Thursday. That's likely to be ahead of the debut of rival Qualcomm's quadcore chip, while such chips by Samsung and Nvidia are already available.

Manufactured using 28 nanometer technology, the MT6589 is the world's first commercialized quad-core system on a chip (SoC) that uses a power-efficient quad-core CoreTex CPU subsystem from ARM Holdings.

MT6589 (Credit: MediaTek)

The chipset is also "strong proof of MediaTek's growing global presence and ambition to drive the democratization of the smartphone and reshape the mid to high-end device market", said Jeffrey Ju, general manager for the smartphone business unit at MediaTek.

The company expects the quad-core chipset to account for 30 percent of its total smartphone chipset shipments in 2013, Ju added. 4G long-term evolution (LTE) chipsets is also another focus for MediaTek, which said it will ramp up production at the end of next year, according to Taipei Times.

MediaTek's quad-core chipset push is due to the worldwide increase in smartphone penetration and that in China particularly.

A separate report by China Post cited MediaTek's greater China chief executive, Lu Hsiang-cheng, as saying China's smartphone sales now accounted for 26.5 percent of worldwide sales, and is expected to reach 72 percent by 2016, making it the world's biggest smartphone market.

Chinese-made smartphones currently make up 60 percent of market share in China, but manufacturers face problems in technology, product design, marketing and low profit margins, according to Lu. The MT6589 chipset helps balance performance and power conservation, as well as push Chinese-made smartphones to the world stage, he added.

MediaTek's announcement of its quad-core smartphone chipset comes less than a week after its U.S. rival Qualcomm introduced two new quad-core chipsets to its Snapdragon S4 family , also made using 28 nanometer technology. Both MSM8226 and MSM8626 were seen as Qualcomm's push to enter the Chinese smartphone market, as they have been built to support Chinese specific requirements, such as TD-SCDMA and HSPA+.

"The expansion of our Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 family extends our leadership in performance and low power for the high-volume smartphones. This expanded roadmap provides our customers with a differentiated feature set upon which to build compelling smartphones for budget-conscious consumers," Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm executive vice president and co-president of mobile and computing products, had said.