The MediaTek MT8173 is world's first Cortex A72 processor designed to target the tablet space. This is a quad-core with two new Cortex-A72 cores, backed by two frugal Cortex-A53 cores. The device is targeting mid- to high-performance tablets, and the chip will run at clocks of up to 2.4GHz. MediaTek has apparently been doing really well in the tablet market lately.
We had a discussion with MediaTek about this first A72 SoC for tablets (that we are aware of), and the company's representatives confirmed that this is a 28nm chip made at TSMC. We initially believed that the MT8173 is 20nm or even 16nm chip, but it looks like it is still early for these steps.
MediaTek is targeting the high performance tablet market with the quad core MT8173 and it promises six-fold performance increase compared to thr MT8125. The old, 32-bit MT8125 was released in Q1 2013 and it was a quad-core Cortex-A7 clocked at 1.2GHz, backed by Power VR SGX544MP1 graphics at 256MHz. A newer version of the MediaTek quad-core tablet chip, the MT8135V powered by two Cortex A15 and two Cortex A7 and PowerVR 6200 graphics with two clusters and 450 GHz clock, ended up in the Kindle Fire HD 6 and HD 7. The MT8135V was the company's most successful tablet chip, at least when it comes to tablets designed for the western market.
The MT8173 can also have all cores running simultaneously for peak performance if needed, and the SoC comes with a Power VR 6250 GPU. This is a downsized graphics core, based on the same technology used in Apple's A8 processor that features a Power VR 6450 GPU.
The new Imagination PowerVR GX6250 GPU supports Open GL ES 3.1, OpenCL, delivers 350 million triangles per second and a fill rate of 2.8 gigapixels at its peak performance. It supports WQXGA 2560x1600 displays at 60fps and 120 Hz mobile displays at lower resolutions.
The graphics part of the SoC can support Ultra HD, also known as 4K, at 30 fps with H.264/HEVC(10-bit)/VP9 hardware video playback. HDMI and Miracast for multi-screen applications and 20 megapixel camera ISP with video face beautify and LOMO effects are on board as well. The SoC has security hardware acceleration supporting Widevine Level 1, Miracast with HDCP, and HDCP 2.2 for premium content on 4K TV displays.
MediaTek will demonstrate the chip at the Mobile World Congress starting tomorrow, March 2 2015, and customers have already received sample chips. You can expect to see the first design wins in retail sometime in the second half of the year. The MT8173 won't be the fastest chip around, but with two A72 and two A53 cores is might be a rather unique chip that might be after some mainstream tablet design wins with a good price/performance ratio.