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."
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.
The EETimes should be a bit more careful about offering up a balanced approach to its initial reporting since the MediaTek statements were quite misleading.
MediaTek is a second tier supplier at this point and LTE is where the market is today. Yes, they are executing fairly well and have a decent prospect for growth. But there is a lot of skepticism that MediaTek have the leading edge IP teams to take on Qualcomm in the high-end market. Vaporware does not cut it.
An interesting debate can be had whether the cell phone market may begin to become a commodity market over the next decade given what some analysts view as the perfection of the smartphone design as of 2013. Some observers think companies such as MediaTek may play a role in this potential transition by offering a low cost alternative if they gain market share. But the market is quite fickle and competitive as seen with the upcoming demise of the ST-Ericcson adventure, the reorganization of Blackberry, etc. Nobody can predict the future of innovation.
@Wobbly- you have a point. When Mediatek announced the device, it claimed that it was the first quad-core apps processor with an integrated modem on a single chip. However, that claim is not undisputed. From Junko Yoshida's December story:
MediaTek likes to say that its upcoming quad-core apps processor/modem SoC based on ARM Cortext A7 is already sampling. But Qualcomm announced the MSM8225Q, a similar quad-core device but based on Cortex-A5, in September. Qualcomm's chip is integrated with a UMTS modem. It’s not a Cortex A7-based quad-core, but Qualcomm’s first-generation quad-core apps processor/modem chip will enter production in the first quarter of 2013. As Gwennap says, this puts Qualcomm “not that far behind MediaTek in reaching the market.”
The analyst added that MediaTek is “being a bit optimistic in positioning the MT6589 for high-end smartphones. It won't match the CPU or graphics performance of true high-end processors such as APQ8064 or Exynos 5250."
MediaTek also lacks LTE, Gwennap noted. In fact, LTE products won't arrive until the end of 2013, according to Moynihan. But Moynihan reminded that the company's strategy is to leverage LTE technology it licensed from NTT Docomo in 2010.
This sentence need to be edited.
"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."
"Mediatek began sampling the MT6589 in December. The device is billed as Mediatek's first quad-core applications processor integrated with a modem on a single chip."
One word changed makes a very big difference.
"'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.'"
Isn't that a strange assertion, though? Sounds a bit like the guy who thought, in 1910, that all discoveries had been made.
Qualcomm could, in principle, be leading the way to the era beyond the personal gadget era that has everyone so spun up. If we have learned anything at all in the past 60-70 years, it is that computing in general has been becoming ever more pervasive. Personal handheld toys are not some isolated one-time event. Control and communications for computing devices of all types, even future ones, smaller and more pervasive ones than todays smartphones, surely provide opportunities for the foreseeable future.