The modern smartphone has long since ceased to be just a tool for calling other people. Nowadays we use it as a remote control for our world; recording our experiences first hand, entertainment devices, augmenting our hobbies and always-on social calendars. Those are just some examples of how we consciously use our phones, but they are also used as a primary computing device to support embedded applications such as fitness monitoring and smart home applications like climate control and security.
Modern SoCs need to be designed with these use cases in mind, in order to enable the always-on computing and high functioning computing tasks with an efficiency requirement to last all day. ARM partner MediaTek has a successful track record of designing SoCs that are tailored towards the demands of its end users, people like you and me.
MediaTek have announced a new addition to the Helio line of SoCs, the Helio X20. The Helio X family of SoCs are known for using cutting edge innovation and technology to deliver powerful performance for the rich experiences that are demanded of the modern smartphone.
MediaTek's flagship mobile SoC
The Helio X20 is the world’s first mobile processor with a Tri-Cluster CPU architecture, featuring ten processing cores. The Tri-Cluster architecture is an innovation based on ARM’s big.LITTLE™ processing technology that delivers increased parallel performance at significantly lower average power. Each processor cluster is designed to efficiently handle different types of workload, enabling a better allocation of tasks which results in optimum performance and extended battery life for users.
- The smallest cluster may be used for background computing or simple tasks such as sending messages
- The middle cluster gives the user an unprecedented balance of computing power and energy efficiency
- The biggest cluster will be called into play for a task that requires more performance, such as video streaming
The chip delivers leading edge camera, display, gaming and audio features for today’s most demanding applications. Display is refreshed at an accelerated 120 frames per second for crisp and responsive scrolling of web content and maps, and uncompromised motion viewing supporting mobile games with high-resolution graphics. The sharp quality of the video and pictures are such that the screen is forgotten, it feels like real life.
State of the art visuals with MiraVision
Let’s take a look under the hood to see how MediaTek managed to do this with the Helio X20.
ARM Technology Powers the Helio X20
The ARM Cortex-A72 processor was used in a dual-core configuration as the large cluster on the chip, running at 2.3GHz. ARM’s flagship application processor ensured this level of performance was reached with 30% less power consumption, due to micro-architectural innovations that enhance floating point, integer and memory performance which improve the execution of every major class of workload.
The Cortex-A53 processor was used in the medium and small clusters, with a quad-core configuration running at 2.0GHz as the medium cluster and another quad-core with 1.4GHz as the small cluster. The 64-bit processor delivered these frequencies while operating within a low power and area footprint.
The graphics computing power was provided by the ARM Mali-T880, the highest-performance GPU in the Mali family. Running at 780MHz, it gives 140% higher GPU performance in the Helio X20 chip when compared to its predecessor, while also providing 60% better power performance.
Advanced Power Management is provided through the Cortex-M4 based SCP which is directed by requests from the OS but is also “system aware” and can enable clock and power control on key system events.
With the Tri-Cluster architecture running different tasks simultaneously, the complexity of managing interrupts increases significantly. The CoreLink GIC-500 generic interrupt controller used affinity level routing to manage the increase in scale in a simple and efficient manner. This boosts processor efficiency, leading to some of the power improvements in the new chip.
MediaTek SoCs Enable Mobile Devices to Perform All Day
As the mobile phone has cemented itself as the primary computing device, we are placing more and more demands on it every day to monitor our health, communicate with friends and entertain us. The variety in the different use cases means that an optimized approach to system design is needed if we are able to rely on our phone’s battery all day.
The MediaTek Helio X family focuses on uncompromised multimedia performance backed by state of the art mobile computing. The Helio X20 uses some world-leading innovations to deliver lasting premium performance due to its advanced power efficiency, and has already begun shipping to customers. The continued partnership between ARM and MediaTek allows both companies to satisfy customer demand in the mobile space.