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Helio X30 Nabs Speed Lead

March 14, 2017

Author: Mike Demler

MediaTek has announced its new Helio X30, a tricluster deca-core chip that’s the third member of the elite 10nm smartphone-processor club. Unlike its competitors, however, the company is the first to use TSMC’s new 10nm technology. It’s also the first to employ such an advanced process to integrate premium features in a device targeting mainstream phones that sell for $200–$300.

The new Helio design uses the same arrangement the company introduced in the 20nm Helio X20: 10 CPUs divided into a dual-core “max” cluster, a quad-core “mid” cluster, and a quad-core “min” cluster. Instead of Cortex-A72, the big cores are the more power- and area-efficient Cortex-A73; the little cores likewise change from Cortex-A53 to the smaller and more power-efficient Cortex-A35.

The X30 also shifts gears on the graphics engine compared with its predecessor. It uses a custom quad-core PowerVR Series7XT Plus from Imagination, replacing the X20’s ARM Mali-T880 MP4. Other upgrades include an LTE Category 10 baseband that supports three-carrier aggregation on the downlink as well as a dual-camera 16Mpixel ISP that supports 4K video recording and playback, along with 8x slow motion. The ISP gets a boost from Cadence’s Tensilica Vision P5 VPU (vision processing unit), which offloads the CPUs and GPUs to handle MediaTek’s Imagiq computational-photography system.

The Helio X30 won’t set benchmark records, but vendors aiming for those prizes must employ much more expensive custom CPUs along with area- and power-hungry graphics engines. The new top-of-the-line MediaTek processor delivers a balanced and cost-conscious feature mix, which will appeal to consumers looking for a budget-friendly alternative to the latest Apple and Samsung flagship models.

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