MediaTek Inc (聯發科), the leading chip supplier for Chinese smartphones, unveiled its first 64-bit long-term evolution (LTE) chip at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, yesterday, joining rival Qualcomm Inc in a race to spur growth in the mainstream fourth-generation (4G) mobile market.
The MT6732 chip has a 64-bit quad-core 1.5GHz Cortex-A53 processor system licensed by UK chip designer ARM Holdings PLC, which will be available at a “mainstream price point,” the Hsinchu-based company said in a press release.
Typically found in PCs, 64-bit processors allow computers — and now even mobile devices — to use more physical memory and improve user experience.
Both Apple Inc and Qualcomm launched their own 64-bit chips for mobile late last year, while Samsung Electronics Co has announced plans to use the technology in its smartphones.
MediaTek’s announcement came less than a month after the company launched the MT6595, the world’s first 4G LTE-enabled 8-core chip for mobile devices, a move intended to close the gap with Qualcomm, the world’s largest mobile chipmaker, in the increasingly important field of 4G connectivity.
“We are quickly expanding our LTE offerings across a range of performance points to meet the growing demand for smartphone devices across all markets. The MT6732 provides excellent performance and a very comprehensive feature set,” Jeffrey Ju (朱尚祖), general manager of MediaTek’s smartphone business unit, said in the press release.
The MT6732 supports low-power and full high-definition 1,080 pixel video playback, as well as 1,080 pixel high-definition video recording. It will be commercially available by the third quarter of this year, with devices expected by the end of the year, according to MediaTek.
MediaTek also announced that its first 4G LTE smartphone, the Alcatel OneTouch Pop S7, will be available in the second quarter of the year for an “affordable” price, but it did not disclose an exact figure.
The 5 inch Pop S7 has MediaTek’s 1.3GHz quad-core processor and multi-mode 4G LTE modem MT6290, the company said.
Qualcomm is to unveil chips this week with new capabilities, aiming to keep manufacturers tied to its products as rivals including Intel Corp upgrade offerings while others such as MediaTek and Broadcom Corp catch up with their LTE capabilities.
The US company is to announce new 64-bit 610 and 615 chips at the Barcelona trade show.
Both can be plugged into existing Qualcomm-based phone designs. The 615 has eight cores, executive vice president Cristiano Amon said.
“We feel very confident that we’ll be able to compete and maintain our position,” Amon said in an interview yesterday. “We’re working very, very hard to maintain a distance with our competition.”
In Barcelona, Qualcomm will also show off LTE chips with faster download speeds and new networking that will use LTE to broadcast video to handsets.
Qualcomm said it expects carriers and other companies to adopt the technology for mobile TV services.
Phones based on the new chips will appear in the fourth quarter, San Diego-based Qualcomm said.
Last year, Qualcomm had more than 90 percent of the market for phone processors with built-in LTE capabilities, according to researcher IDC Corp.