MediaTek Wants a Piece of Windows on Arm

After becoming one of the leading suppliers of system-on-chips for inexpensive Chromebooks, MediaTek wants to address the market of Windows on Arm PCs. To meet the performance expectations of Windows users, MediaTek plans to develop SoCs with enhanced CPU and GPU performance; the company reiterated this week.

“In CPU and GPU we are having to make some bigger investments as a foundational capability [for PC-oriented SoCs],” said Vince Hu, a corporate vice president of MediaTek at the company’s event, reports PC World (opens in new tab).

MediaTek’s Kompanio platforms for Windows on Arm PCs will include ‘some of the technology’ applied to high-end Dimensity SoCs for smartphones as well as 5G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and even display driver ICs (DDICs) specifically designed for laptops, the company revealed.

The company’s latest Dimensity 9200 (opens in new tab) SoC for smartphones features eight general-purpose CPU cores and an 11-cluster graphics processing unit with hardware raytracing support. The CPU department includes one Arm Cortex-X3 performance-enhanced core operating at 3.05 GHz, three Cortex-A715 high-performance cores at 2.85 GHz, and four Cortex-A510 energy-efficient cores. Also, the SoC is compatible with LPDDR5X-8533 memory.

By contrast, MediaTek’s top-of-the-range Kompanio 1380 (opens in new tab) SoC for higher-end Chromebooks features four standard high-performance Arm Cortex-A78 cores at 3.0 GHz, four standard energy-efficient Arm Cortex-A55 cores, 5-cluster Arm Mali-A57 graphics, and an LPDDR4X-2133 memory subsystem. However, the Kompanio 1380 is less capable than the Dimensity 9200, so MediaTek wants to enhance its PC SoCs before addressing Windows on Arm machines with them.

It is unclear whether MediaTek plans to use performance-enhanced Arm Cortex-X cores for its notebook SoCs or will develop its custom Arm-compatible cores like Apple. On the one hand, it is entirely logical for MediaTek to build custom high-performance cores if MediaTek plans to compete against Qualcomm’s next-generation Snapdragon SoCs that will use custom cores from Nuvia. But on the other hand, this requires significantly more investments and effort than licensing high-performance out-of-box cores.

MediaTek has been gradually transforming itself from a developer of mainstream SoCs for consumer electronics and handsets to a supplier of premium application processors for advanced smartphones. As a result, it will be logical for MediaTek to start developing custom performance-enhanced IP in-house to differentiate from its rivals (most notably Qualcomm, Samsung, and Unisoc) and offer unique capabilities. However, it is unclear whether the company has such plans for now.