July 25, 2013, 5:41 AM — Smartphone and tablet chip vendor MediaTek has unveiled an octo-core processor it says can run all eight cores simultaneously when active.
The Taiwan-based company plans to launch the chip in the fourth quarter, MediaTek spokeswoman Sharon Lo said Thursday.
MediaTek said the product is a "true octo-core solution," whereas other existing octo-core processors can only switch between using four cores at a time, the company claimed.
For example, Samsung's previous octo-core chip, the Exynos 5410, is essentially two quad-core chips packed together and was used in some versions of its Galaxy S4 smartphone. One set of quad-core chips is designed for high-performance tasks such as gaming or video playback, while the other is made to handle less intensive processes like emailing or texting. But only four of the cores can be active at one time.
MediaTek, however, said that its own octo-core chip can run each core independently, helping it to reduce excessive battery use while improving performance. With the chip, a device can allocations applications such as Internet browser tabs to individual cores, offering better stability in processing.
The Taiwanese vendor is aiming to grab more mobile processor market share, and has been releasing more quad-core chips recently. An octo-core chip could help the company find a place for its chips in higher-end smartphones and tablets.
The flexibility of MediaTek's octo-core chip might soon be matched by Samsung, which on Tuesday unveiled a new octo-core chip, the Exynos 5420, which will go into mass production this August. It offers enhanced performance over the Exynos 5410, with higher clock speeds and a better GPU.
Samsung didn't say whether all eight cores of the Exynos 5420 can operate at the same time, but it's possible the new chip has been built with the capability, said Roger Sheng, an analyst with research firm Gartner.
MediaTek has yet to release technical specs for its octo-core chip, and it's unclear if it uses a new computing architecture or ARM's big.LITTLE designs, Sheng added.
"It might be a good marketing approach for MediaTek to highlight the eight cores, but I don't know how much benefit it will bring to the device," he said.