MediaTek’s Moynihan pointed out that the tablet market over the last 18 months has gone through a dramatic change, in particular with an increasing number of high-quality, entry-level tablets emerging in the middle. That segment, in MediaTek’s view, is the one the company is gunning for.
Mediatek’s first-generation quad-core tablet SoC that started shipping in the second quarter this year has already gained customers such as Lenovo, Acer, and Asus, Moynihan said. MediaTek hopes these brands will continue to be lead customers for MediaTek’s new MT8135.
Asked if Chinese fabless companies such as Allwinner and Rockchip are going to be a threat to MediaTek, Moynihan, while noting that “competition is competition,” downplayed that concern. With MT8135, MediaTek is concentrating on the high-end tablet market.
Mark Hung, research vice president for wireless at Gartner, said, “In the near term, MediaTek will be looking for specific market niches which are not as easily commoditized. Unlike the mobile phone market, MediaTek is not expected to be number one or number two in unit market share in the near future.”
Linley Group’s Demler is of a different opinion.
MediaTek entered the tablet market later than others, Demler acknowledged, but he believes it’s a different market now.
In my opinion, it now more closely resembles the development of the smartphone market. First there was the iPhone, then Android took over the mass market. Same thing [is happening] now for iPad. MediaTek is well positioned to compete with Qualcomm and others by following the same strategy it did for phones. The company is very aggressive in rolling our new designs quickly, and at pushing high-end performance down to lower price points.
As Gartner’s Hung pointed out, “OEMs are looking for differentiation in graphics performance and wireless connectivity (both WiFi and cellular).”
Beyond HMP, MediaTek is trying to differentiate its SoC from others on several fronts.
First, MediaTek’s MT8135 has become the first mobile SoC to integrate Imagination Technologies’s latest PowerVR Series 6 GPU, called “Rogue.” This will help tablet users with high-end gaming, smooth UIs and advanced browser-based graphics-rich applications, Moynihan explained.
Second, regarding wireless, the MT8135 features a MediaTek-developed four-in-one connectivity combination that includes WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, and FM. The tablet SoC does not integrate cellular modems, but MediaTek’s customers can use the company’s well-proven 2G and 3G cellular chips. In countries such as India and China where there is no pervasive WiFi coverage, 3G data bundling will become important for tablets, he added.
Third, concerning the display quality: As the display quality improves, most users of iPad’s Retina display (or similar tablet featuring Retina-like higher resolution technology) are aware that the video that looked fine on an old iPad 2 turns out to look noticeably bad on a Retina display. An EE Times report on that issue offered the suggestion that adding a display processor to the tablet could rectify the problem, but at a price.
When Moynihan was asked about the issue, he claimed that MediaTek has that covered too. Using the display's picture quality engine originally developed for digital TV, the company is integrating “MiraVision,” a suite of display picture quality technology for its smartphone and tablet platforms.
Both MT6589 (the previous quad-core tablet SoC) and the new MT8135 integrate MiraVision, offering “contrast, sharpness, and color enhancement,” said Moynihan. “They provide more vivid, more crisp, and more contrast video quality. We also support color enhancement, adaptive contrast enhancement, video sharpness enhancement, and dynamic backlight scaling.” However, asked about frame rate conversion, he said it’s not supported in these platforms, “but this is probably something we can discuss at a later date.”
Competitive landscape on tablets