Taiwanese semiconductor designer MediaTek has announced its latest flagship mobile SoC, Dimensity 9300, which it hopes will give rivals Apple and Qualcomm a run for their money.
The announcement comes just two weeks after Qualcomm revealed its latest flagship mobile SoC, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, and two weeks before the company’s Executive Summit which is set to kick off next week on Thursday, 16 November.
As Qualcomm did two weeks ago, MediaTek is not only promising performance and power efficiency improvements over last year’s chips but also a much greater focus on on-device generative AI processing.
Performance number bigger? Check. Mentioned 2023’s buzzword? Check. Announcement successful.
Under the hood of the Dimensity 9300
Unsurprisingly, the Dimensity 9300 is MediaTek’s “most powerful flagship chip yet.” Well, it wouldn’t make sense if it was worse. What was surprising, however, was MediaTek’s decision to try a whole new internal CPU design.
Most Android-based SoCs of late offer eight CPU cores in a 1+4+3 cluster design. Those numbers denote how many prime, performance, and efficiency cores are present, respectively. Usually, there’s one big Cortex-X prime core that draws the most power and has the fastest clock speed to do the heavy lifting.
When more processing power is required, the slower but more efficient Cortex-A performance cores spring into action. Those are joined by even slower and even more efficient Cortex-A efficiency cores that handle small background tasks. With the Dimensity 9300, MediaTek has omitted efficiency CPU cores entirely, opting for four Cortex-X4 prime cores and four Cortex-A720 performance cores.
However, even with four prime cores and four performance cores sucking down power and heating up your hands, the company says its new chipset is 33% more efficient when measured at the same performance level as last year’s Dimensity 9200. That ‘when measured at the same performance level’ distinction is important because apparently the Dimensity 9300 also offers a peak performance improvement of 40%.
A system of many processors (on a chip)
Along with CPU improvements, MediaTek has included the Immortalis G720 GPU from Arm which it claims offers a 23% uplift in peak performance and is up to 46% better at ray tracing than the Dimensity 9200. Snapdragons have been the Android-based gaming kings for the last few years but that may change soon.
A key focal point for MediaTek (and every other company this year) is the Dimensity 9300’s generative AI capabilities. Here, they’re handled by the chip’s APU 790 which, like the CPU and GPU, boasts more performance and better power efficiency than its predecessor.
The whole ‘generative AI capabilities on your smartphone’ thing is still relatively new so we don’t have a consumer-friendly way to tell which SoC does it better just yet. We could compare the time it takes them to generate an image but both companies say their new processor can do it in under a second, so that doesn’t help.
Most folks tend to do a lot more with their smartphones than number crunching, gaming, and talking to your AI assistant. The Dimensity 9300 offers improvements and advancements in many other areas like photography, display, security, and connectivity.
As for when the first smartphones will ship packing a new Dimensity 9300 is still unknown but MediaTek did say that it would happen before the end of 2023. Whether we’ll see those smartphones arrive in South Africa is a different story, seeing as only Vivo, Oppo, and sometimes Xiaomi use the chips in their devices.