MediaTek integrates graphics, modem on quad-core processor for smartphones

Both MediaTek and Qualcomm are vying for the Chinese market

Taiwan's MediaTek announced a new quad-core ARM chip made for mid- to high-end Android devices that the company hopes will keep it competitive as rival chip makers also come out with their own quad-core chipsets.

The MediaTek MT6589 chip packages together a wireless modem, graphics processor and a quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU built with 28-nanometer fabrication technology. The company claims it as the world's first quad-core "system on a chip."

The MT6589 chip is already being designed into Android devices, with the first models expected to start shipping in the first quarter of next year, the company said on Wednesday.

MediaTek's MT6589 chip does not support LTE, but does feature a modem for HSPA+ and the TD-SCDMA standard, which is used in China Mobile's 3G network. China Mobile has more than 700 customers, and is the country's largest mobile operator.

MediaTek made the announcement a week after rival Qualcomm also unveiled two quad-core chips designed for 3G networks, that could arrive in the newest smartphones as soon as next year's second quarter. Phone that use the Qualcomm chips can also operate over China Mobile's TD-SCDMA 3G network.

Both companies are vying for the Chinese market, where MediaTek dominated in feature phone handsets. But the rise of smartphones has helped Qualcomm to quickly expand its business in the country and made it a threat to MediaTek, according to research firm Gartner.

The MT6589 chip supports 1080p high-definition video playback and recording, and a camera for up 13 megapixel resolution. The chip also supports the use of dual-SIM (subscriber identity module) cards in a smartphone, a feature which experts have said is popular in China.

For the year 2012, Qualcomm is expected to become the third largest semiconductor supplier by revenue, with a 27 percent year-over-year growth, said a report from research firm IHS iSuppli. MediaTek, however, will rank at 17th, with 4.9 percent year-over-year growth.

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Michael Kan

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