MediaTek’s new Dimensity chips bring high-end features, lack mmWave 5G support

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MediaTek has unveiled its new Dimensity 1200 and 1100 chipsets.
Image: MediaTek

The smartphone semiconductor world is largely dominated by a few main players. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors power a majority of handsets in the U.S. market. Meanwhile, competitors like MediaTek thrive in overseas locations—primarily in Asia.

It’s been about a week since Qualcomm’s newest chip, the Snapdragon 888, made its consumer debut in the Samsung Galaxy S21, CNET reports.

Not to be outdone, MediaTek just unveiled two new processors of its own. The Dimensity 1200 and Dimensity 1100 are designed to bring high-end features to new devices. While they boast many improvements over the previous generations, the updated chips lack support for faster 5G.

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Built for Performance

One of the most exciting things about MediaTek’s new Dimensity chips is that they are built on TSMC’s 6-nanometer process. That’s a big change from last year’s Dimensity 1000, which featured the older 7-nanometer process.

Meanwhile, MediaTek is also using Arm’s updated A78 core technology in its new Dimensity chips. That makes the Dimensity 1200 up to 22 percent more powerful and 25 percent more efficient than last year’s model. Those are substantial upgrades for a single generation.

Another area seeing improvements is the Dimensity chips’ handling of artificial intelligence (AI) tasks thanks to a six-core APU. It is roughly 13 percent faster than last year’s model. This allows the new Dimensity 1200 and 1100 to do things like identify multiple people in the frame of a photo in real-time.

Speaking of photos, MediaTek wanted to ensure that phones powered by its newest chips would have impressive camera features. The Dimensity 1200 boasts a five-core HDR-ISP that supports 200-megapixel photos and 4K HDR video. Although the phones with the chip will still need capable cameras, the photos they’ll take should be impressive.

No Support for mmWave 5G

Unfortunately, MediaTek’s new processors will likely have a difficult time breaking into the U.S. market. That’s because they don’t support millimeter-wave 5G connectivity. For those who aren’t familiar, mmWave is the ultra-fast version of 5G supported by Verizon in the U.S.

The Dimensity processors, by contrast, only support sub-6Ghz 5G. This is the slightly slower but more widespread version offered by carriers like T-Mobile.

The latest chips from Qualcomm and Samsung support both sub-6Ghz and mmWave 5G, making them a better option for flagship devices. American consumers appreciate the flexibility those processors offer.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for MediaTek’s new Dimensity chips. The company’s general manager of sales, Finbarr Moynihan, says, “The first wave of launches will likely come from China. That’s probably where there’s the wider range of 5G devices, and… the launch time-to-market tends to be quicker.”

A number of manufacturers have already announced that they intend to use MediaTek’s latest processors in their upcoming devices. Realme will be one of the first to debut a phone with the Dimensity 1200 inside. Meanwhile, Xiaomi, Vivo, and Oppo have also committed to using the new chipsets.

It will be interesting to see how consumers react to those devices when they launch later this year. The first phones to feature the Dimensity 1200 and 1100 will arrive late in the first quarter.

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