Mediatek is shipping the world's smallest RF transceiver, but Qualcomm remains the technology leader by a considerable margin.
Look out Qualcomm Inc. Taiwanese rival Mediatek Inc. has delivered the world's smallest multimode transceiver, according to market research firm ABI Research.
Mediatek's MT6167 transceiver is also the world's first 40-nm transceiver, according to ABI.
Last month, on the eve of Mobile World Congress, Qualcomm (San Diego) announced plans for a family of integrated RF front ends for high tier LTE smartphones, the first of which is expected to ship in the second half of this year.
ABI said the MT6167accompanies MediaTek's widely publicized MT6589 quad-core application processor/3G modem and the MT6320 power management unit. Mediatek's transceiver measures less than 7 square millimeters and supports 2G and 3G protocols, according to ABI. Transceivers with this functionality are typically larger than 20 square millimeters, the firm said, and Qualcomm's current solution is more than 25 square millimeters.
"This sharp contrast in die size reflects on more than just design expertise though, it gives a glimpse into the company’s mindset," said Jim Mielke, vice president of engineering at ABI, in a statement.
Mielke said Qualcomm continues to push the technology envelope—including additional computing power and higher data rates—while Mediatek chooses to lag in technology and aim for the most cost effective and power conscious chips.
"Qualcomm will remain the leader of the pack as long as additional technology is required," Mielke said. "But once the mobile device reaches a point where consumers are satisfied with performance, watch for Mediatek and companies with the same mindset to come on very strong."
Mediatek began sampling the MT6589 in December. The device is billed as the first quad-core applications processor integrated with a modem on a single chip.
According to ABI, Mediatek's MT6589 chips also perform well. The chipset measured 40 percent less power in 2G talk modes and 30 percent less in 3G talk modes compared to the prior MT6577 solution in a test at ABI's teardown lab. The quad core A7’s also provides a smooth user interface and plenty of mobile power.