MediaTek recently held its annual executive summit at Laguna Beach, California. The headliner announcement this year was the unveiling of its first flagship 5G SOC, the Dimensity 9000. The company had launched the Dimensity line, its first 5G SOC, in November 2019. Look for devices with the new SOC late in Q1 2022.
MediaTek will continue to update its 700 series 5G line-up to cater to the mainstream market. The 800 and 900 series will support the high end. To ensure there is no confusion about which is the flagship series, MediaTek has named this new SOC the Dimensity 9000.
Other major announcements during the summit included a new partnership with AMD within the PC space, a new 7nm TV SOC, and FiLogic 130 connectivity for IoT devices.
Company recap and goals
- MediaTek saw extreme growth through the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 2 billion devices were shipped with MediaTek technology inside during the year. As Counterpoint Research has written, the company has grown to become the #1 smartphone SoC in terms of volume in 2021.
- There were record revenues in multiple segments.
- The company plans record R&D spending.
- MediaTek wants to grow its share within the flagship space. This has already been achieved within the TV space. The company wants to grow the Dimensity (smartphone), Kompanio (PC and tablet), FiLogic (connectivity and IoT) and Pentonic (TV) branding. Clearly, the most important goal is the Dimensity brand and growing share within the flagship (smartphone) segment.
- The company has grown to $17 billion in revenues. The first 3G smartphone with MediaTek was launched in 2011, 4G in 2014 and 5G in 2019. The smartphone chip space grew over 100% during the year and now represents 57% of the company’s revenues.
- Revenues are roughly distributed as follows:
- 57% mobile phones, which grew 113% in 2021.
- 22% IoT, computing and ASIC, which grew 43%.
- 14% smart home, which grew 34%.
- 7% power IC, which grew 39%.
- The company is #1 in smartphones, feature phones, ARM-based chromebooks, Android tablets, smart speakers, connectivity/broadband & networking, TVs, and optical drivers.
- Big drivers during the year were smartphones, tablets and ARM computing/chromebooks. The company shipped over 600 million Wi-Fi chips during 2021.
- NAM market:
- Counterpoint Research estimates MediaTek eclipsed 30% market share in most months in the US. Some big volume design wins such as the Samsung A12 and A32 helped in this growth.
- Shortages of 4G devices have helped grow its 5G market share in the mid-tier segment. More diversified portfolios have allowed for higher 5G market share, which has helped MediaTek.
- LATAM: Market share has grown from 35% to 45%. The company expects to grow over 50% helped by the severe 4G shortages. 5G will be a growth opportunity down the road.
- China: China 5G smartphone sell-through has been above 70% for a few months. MediaTek rode this wave of 5G transition.
- 2021 saw severe shortages in the 4G space. Look for MediaTek to increase market share and overall volumes of 4G SOCs in both mature markets and markets where 5G has not yet been rolled out.
- The company will continue to work hard partnering with the large Chinese brands which have seen volume consolidation in China. OPPO, vivo, Xiaomi and others will be looking to grow in overseas markets and MediaTek can grow with this expansion.
Dimensity 9000: MediaTek’s first attempt at 5G flagship space
It is always difficult to access a new chipset until devices are in the market and some true performance ‘in the wild’ can be tested. There are many new firsts for MediaTek and the industry in the Dimensity 9000. Possibly, the most important are the low-power improvements due to its best process node to date— 4nm. The new SOC has the latest ARM Mali-G710 GPU. It also supports the latest next gen memory technology LPDDR5 from Micron.
Other key specs include:
- CPU has a new ARM v9 architecture: 1x Cortex X2 3.05GHz, 3x Cort8GHzex A710 2.85GHz, 4x Cortex A510 1.8GHz and 8MP L3+6MB system-level cache. Comparing last year’s premium Android flagships, the company reports 35% system-level improvements and 10% core-level improvements. Faster application launches range from 16% to 55% improvement depending on the application.
- GPU ARM Mali-G710 MC10: The company expects 35% performance improvement and 60% power efficiency improvement.
- During the MediaTek executive summit, Micron announced that MediaTek has validated its LPDDR5X DRAM for MediaTek’s Dimensity 9000.
- APU has four performance cores and two flexible cores configuration.
- The company has found the AI performance 16% higher than Tensor and about 25% improved over current Android flagships.
Connectivity under FiLogic branding grows:
- There are opportunities outside of smartphones. WAN, LAN and PAN solutions saw strong growth during 2021.
- Even post-pandemic, Counterpoint Research expects data cards, 5G broadband internet for the masses, and automotive telematics to see solid growth during 2022.
- Global mobile operators are rolling out fixed wireless access. MediaTek is riding this wave with the T750 chipset for CPEs. It supports 5G, build on 7nm process technology, dual-band 4×4 Wi-Fi6, and integrated gigabit ethernet LAN ports. British mobile operator EE is an early customer.
- MediaTek announced a partnership with AMD within the high-power compute space. This partnership was many years in the making. MediaTek will provide the connectivity. First devices will be targeted at mid-range to premium-range consumer space and are a natural fit for gaming focused PCs. As security solutions improve, it can target the SMB/commercial space.
- The Wi-Fi portfolio within notebooks, retail, broadband and IoT is very large. Customers are tier one brands such as Amazon, Lenovo, Samsung, HP, Netgear, Linksys, BT, Telefonica and ecobee.
- Wi-Fi industry usually sees upgrades over 5-6 years. Between 2019 and 2023, Wi-Fi will move from Wi-Fi6 and Wi-Fi6E, and at CES 2022 MediaTek will demo Wi-Fi7. Initial testing with same number of antennas has seen speed gains of 2.4x. The update will also see improved latency and be better at puncturing out the noise of overlapping networks. WiFi Alliance is still finalizing the standards, which could be completed in Q2 2022.
TV business dominating with 70% global share and over 60% market share in the US
- 2020 was a banner year for TVs, which saw TV holding periods drop significantly. Counterpoint Research estimates 2021 remains strong at about 20% growth.
- MediaTek launched the Pentonic 2000 SOC. The new chip will be in the market late this year.
- Smart TV outlook is strong due to some major technology advances. 120Hz will help TVs grow as gaming consoles. It will also enable better picture-within-picture technology for multi-player gaming and multi-viewer TV watch ‘parties’.
- True 8k picture processing supported when 8k content is available.
- AI used to optimize memory usage. Great 4k UI, leveraging middleware for broadcast standards, helping OEMs scale internationally.
- Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos supported. TV SOCs are also used in projectors. Monitors a logical business opportunity for MediaTek. So is industrial signage.
MediaTek chromebooks grew 96% in 2020 and 15% in 2021; consumer segments continue to drive volumes
- MediaTek will drive Kompanio branding.
- Due to school-from-home, chromebooks growth is well documented. Due to emergency connectivity bill in the US, there is still room for growth. Due to young school age users, naturally the holding period is short. Holding periods have been 3-4 years, but some school districts have announced only 18-month life cycles within younger ages. This increased installed base and shorter holding periods continue to drive volumes despite countries such as the US and Japan reaching saturation.
- Kompanio performance sees large leaps. There are three levels of quality marketed as 800T series, 900T series and 1000T series.
- 7nm process node helped power efficiency. Other specs include 2k displays, 120Hz, improved camera ISP with 16MP front/back cameras, Wi-Fi6E and BT5.
- Great spec improvements compared to last year’s Intel N4500.
- HONOR 1300T is a premium tier chromebook OEM which will hit the market in coming month(s).
Comments from CEO Rick Tsai
- CEO Rick Tsai was most proud of improvements in AI, 8k display support, camera/video/audio and CPU/GPU/DSP.
- Actively looking for new foundry partners (obviously not announcing prior to start), but reiterated the company is happy with TSMC, the leader in nm process node technology.
- Dimensity 9000 launch was the headliner but there will remain a long LTE runway. Shortages hurt 2021. MediaTek expects to grow its market share within LTE. Expect to see launches of new LTE chip(s) with increased performance.
Where was there little news?
- Automotive is not an area where MediaTek has momentum. There are some telematics solutions being sold, but it is not yet a cohesive story. Certainly, the company is looking at the space, but currently it is not a priority like the other growth segments.
- mmWave volumes not imminent. Counterpoint Research estimates sub-6 smartphone volumes will be about 86% of smartphone shipments in 2021. We expect an mmWave solution from MediaTek in 2022, but it will probably not be distinctive or disruptive. It will take MediaTek some time to prove its flagship Dimensity 9000 series is competitive, while mmWave is required in the US and possibly other markets in 2022. The technology will not be coming down into lower mid-tier or entry space anytime soon.
- Wearables and smartwatches need more time. There were no low-power solutions announced. With many high-growth segments, this has not been prioritized.