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MediaTek launches new ARM 'big.LITTLE' chip for high-end tablets

MediaTek has introduced a new quad-core, ARM-based System-on-a-Chip (SoC) for tablets featuring ARM's big.LITTLE processing subsystem for heterogeneous multi-processing.

The MT8135 SoC, targeted at high-end slates, includes a pair of ARM Cortex A15 central processor cores and two ultra-low power ARM Cortex A7 CPU cores, as well as a Power VR Series6 graphics processor from Imagination Technologies. The MT8135 is the first to use the big.LITTLE architecture in a mobile SoC, according to MediaTek.

"At MediaTek, our goal is to enable each user to take maximum advantage of his or her mobile device. The implementation and availability of the MT8135 brings an enjoyable multitasking experience to life without requiring users to sacrifice on quality or energy," Joe Chen, general manager of MediaTek's Home Entertainment Business Unit, said in a statement.

MediaTek's own advanced scheduler algorithm and adaptive thermal and interactive power management for the new SoC "enables application software to access all of the processors in the big.LITTLE cluster simultaneously for a true heterogeneous experience," according to the fabless semiconductor firm.

"This includes the ability to seamlessly engage in a range of processor-intensive applications, including heavy Web-downloading, hardcore gaming, high-quality video viewing, and rigorous multitasking—all while maintaining the utmost power efficiency," Chen said.

The new SoC sports a "four-in-one connectivity combination" in the MT8135 package, which includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, and FM. The chip also supports Wi-Fi-certified Miracast for content sharing between devices.

"ARM big.LITTLE technology reduces processor energy consumption by up to 70 percent on common workloads, which is critical in the drive towards all-day battery life for mobile platforms. We are pleased to see MediaTek's MT8135 seizing on the opportunity offered by the big.LITTLE architecture to enable new services on a heterogeneous processing platform," Noel Hurley, vice president of strategy and marketing for ARM's Processor Division, said in a statement.

Imagination's latest graphics processor will help the MT8135 "deliver five times or more the GPU compute performance of the previous generation of tablet processors," said Imagination executive vice president of marketing Tony King-Smith.

"We are proud to have partnered with MediaTek on their latest generation of tablet SoCs. PowerVR Series6 GPUs build on Imagination's success in mobile and embedded markets to deliver the industry's highest performance and efficient solutions for graphics-and-compute GPUs," King-Smith said.

"MediaTek is a key lead partner for Imagination and its PowerVR Series6 GPU cores, so we expect the MT8135 to set an important benchmark for high-end gaming, smooth UIs, and advanced browser-based, graphics-rich applications in smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices."

MediaTek introduced its first quad-core SoCs for mobile devices last December. Known primarily as a maker of products for feature phones and more value-oriented devices sold mainly in emerging markets, the Taiwan-based chip maker has more recently begun marketing parts for higher-end phones and tablets.

Yesterday, we reported on MediaTek's introduction of the 'world's first' triple-SIM Android platform, targeted at emerging markets.