Today MediaTek has formally revealed its latest mobile chipset, which packs an integrated 5G modem, 8-core design, and Wi-Fi 6 support, kicking off an all new "Dimensity" family of silicon. On paper, the latest Dimensity 1000 sounds like the first 5G-integrated chip MediaTek announced back in May of this year. But whether this is a rehash of that or not, there is one big twist this time around: MediaTek tells us we'll see phones running this new SoC land here in the USA.

Full disclosure: As part of this announcement earlier this month, MediaTek flew me and dozens of other bloggers/reporters/analysts/content creators to San Diego for three days, booked us all into the 'Del, and sang me happy birthday at a surprise beachside party (I kid you not). I died of embarrassment, but the cake was good.

Between the official press release and the details revealed to us at the executive summit, the full and very technical specs for the "Dimensity 1000" 5G-integrated chipset are as follows:

Specs

CPU cores 4x 'big' A77 at up to 2.6GHz, 4x 'small' A55 at up to 2.0GHz
GPU 9-core Mali G77
Modem 5G SA/NSA, NR TDD and FDD, 2CC CA, 4.7Gbps downlink and 2.5Gbps uplink at sub-6 frequencies, fallback for 2G, 3G, 4G (Cat 16 LTE), VoNR
Connectivity Wi-Fi 6 (2x2 MIMO), Bluetooth 5.1
Node 7nm TSMC
Memory 4-channel LPDDR4X, up to 16GB
Display Up to QHD+ 90Hz or Full HD+ 120Hz,  DisplayPort support
Camera 5-core ISP; up to 80MP at 24FPS single-camera, or 32MP+16MP dual camera; multi-frame video HDR; up to 4K video at 60fps in H.264/265/VP9/AV1
Misc. 6-core APU for AI workloads (2x big, 3x little, 1x tiny cores), 5G+5G and 5G+4G dual-SIM support, dual-core audio DSP

In short, these specs generally match the unnamed 5G SoC initially revealed earlier this year, down to the rated uplink/downlink speeds and the originally anticipated availability date, though there are some new details like the "world's first" multi-frame HDR video support, Wi-Fi 6, 120/90Hz display support, 4K 60FPS AV1 encoding support, and supported camera resolutions — among other more minor features.

The 5G elephant in the room for MediaTek's Dimensity 1000 is its lack of mmWave support — the high-frequency 5G solution most US carriers are trying to push. This chip's modem is made for sub-6GHz applications of 5G standards, the so-called mid- and low-band frequencies like that AT&T recently converted to 5G, and which T-Mobile is ready to light for the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren. Outside the US, most carriers are focusing on mid-band solutions for initial 5G rollouts with mmWave support to follow. Although the US carriers' infatuation with mmWave limits the Dimensity 1000's 5G practical applications here until we get more/better mid-band 5G options, it can still fall back to 4G at Category 16 speeds (~gigabit down and 150 Mbps up at max).

The real chip (pictured up at the top) had a lot more writing than this on it. 

MediaTek skipped out on supplying us with benchmarks — the standard filler for these sort of hardware announcements — but at our briefing, the company claimed this chip should offer double the download and upload speeds at sub-6 applications compared to Qualcomm's (now older) Snapdragon X50 modem, paired with 42-48% less power consumption. Non-final benchmarks provided at the event itself placed general performance at the flagship level, competitive in at least a few cherry-picked tests with Qualcomm's soon-to-be-last-gen Snapdragon 855. That increased performance will also come with a higher price tag for MediaTek's customers. Although it won't give us specifics, we're told the Dimensity 1000 will cost more for device manufacturers to use than previous 4G LTE chips.

Knowing MediaTek, any comparison to Qualcomm's flagship chips is probably wishful thinking, but we could be surprised. Better, we may have the actual opportunity to experience that surprise, as the company says that we'll see this product manifest in phones coming to the US. While Asian markets will see devices first, starting as early as the first quarter of next year, we'll see it in products landing stateside in the second half of 2020.

For many of our readers, the MediaTek name might bring to mind disappointing low-end tablets and phones, but the company was quick to point out at our briefing the plethora of other devices it silently powers, from budget smart speakers all the way to multi-thousand dollar Peloton bikes. Hopefully, the Dimensity 1000 lives up to the company's lofty flagship-level goals, because it would be great if someone could disrupt Qualcomm's effective monopoly on the high-end market here in the US. I'm not holding my breath, but it would be nice to see.

Press Release

MediaTek Announces Dimensity, World’s Most Advanced 5G Chipset Family, & Dimensity 1000 5G SoC 

MediaTek’s Dimensity 1000 5G integrated chip delivers unparalleled performance, ultra-fast speeds and seamless connectivity 

Taipei, Taiwan – November 26, 2019 MediaTek today unveiled Dimensity, MediaTek’s family of powerful 5G system-on-chips (SoCs) offering an unrivaled combination of connectivity, multimedia, AI and imaging innovations for premium and flagship smartphones. 

The MediaTek Dimensity 5G chipset family brings smart and fast together to power the world’s most capable 5G devices. Dimensity represents a step toward a new era of mobility – the fifth dimension – to spur industry innovation and let consumers unlock the possibilities of 5G connectivity. 

Dimensity 1000 is MediaTek’s first 5G mobile SoC in its 5G family of chipsets. The single 5G chip solution, with its integrated 5G modem, is a brilliant combination of advanced technologies packed into a 7nm chip and tuned for 5G performance. 

“Our Dimensity series is a culmination of MediaTek’s investment in 5G and positions us as a leader driving 5G development and innovation. Our 5G technology goes head-to-head with anyone in the industry,” said MediaTek President Joe Chen. 

“We chose the name Dimensity to highlight how our 5G solutions are driving new waves of innovation and experiences, much like the fabled fifth dimension,” added Chen. “Our first announced chip, MediaTek Dimensity 1000, gives consumers a significantly faster, more intelligent and all-around incredible mobile experience.” 

The first Dimensity powered devices will start hitting the market in Q1 of 2020. 

The Dimensity series integrates MediaTek’s 5G modem in one compact design, delivering significant power savings compared to competing solutions. 

The Dimensity 1000 5G SoC supports 5G two carrier aggregation (2CC CA) and boasts the world’s fastest throughput SoC with 4.7Gbps downlink and 2.5Gbps uplink speeds over sub-6GHz networks. The chipset is designed to support stand alone and non-stand alone (SA/NSA) sub-6GHz networks, and includes multi-mode support for every cellular connectivity generation from 2G to 5G. 

It also integrates the latest Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1+ standards for the fastest and most efficient local wireless connectivity, offering more than 1Gbps throughput in both downlink and uplink speeds 

Dimensity 1000 is a performance powerhouse, pairing four Arm Cortex-A77 cores operating up to 2.6GHz with four power-efficient Arm Cortex-A55 cores operating at up to 2.0GHz. This design enables an optimal balance of high performance and power-efficiency. The chipset is also the world’s first to pack Arm Mali-G77 GPU to enable seamless streaming and gaming at 5G speeds. 

MediaTek’s Dimensity 1000 also comes with a new MediaTek AI Processing Unit – APU 3.0 – with more than double the performance of the previous generation APU. It brings devices a significant performance boost at 4.5 TOPS. 

Features and technology in the MediaTek Dimensity 1000 include: 

  • World’s First Dual 5G SIM: With the world’s first dual 5G SIM technology, in addition to support for services such as Voice over New Radio (VoNR), the 5G SoC delivers seamless connectivity across networks and offers consistent speeds. 
  • Most Power Efficient 5G Modem: The chipset’s integrated 5G modem delivers extreme energy efficiency and is a more power efficient design than competing solutions. This compact, integrated design also lets brands use the extra space for other features like a bigger battery or larger camera sensors. 
  • Seamless Handover: With 5G carrier aggregation, the chipset posts higher average speeds and performs a seamless handover between two connection areas (high speed layer and coverage layer) for seamless high speed connections when users are on the go. 
  • Unparalleled Imaging: With the world’s first five-core image signal processor (ISP) combined with MediaTek’s Imagiq+ technology, Dimensity 1000 provides a truly extraordinary camera and video experience. The chipset supports 80MP cameras sensors at 24 frames per second and a range of multi-camera options such as 32+16MP dual cameras. 
  • Powerful APU Camera & Video Support: The APU supports advanced AI-camera enhancements for autofocus, auto exposure, auto white balance, noise reduction, high-dynamic-range (HDR) and facial detection, along with the world’s first multi-frame video HDR capability. 
  • Stunning Graphics and Video: The chipset delivers stunning graphics with support for Full HD+ displays up to 120Hz and 2K+ up to 90Hz. Dimensity 1000 is the first mobile SoC to support Google AV1 format up to 4K resolution at 60fps, elevating the video streaming experience to new levels. 

“Dimensity 1000 brings the latest connectivity, multimedia, AI, imaging and gaming innovations, all tuned for 5G performance to consumers so they can expect incredible experiences with Dimensity powered 5G devices,” said Chen. 

Dimensity 1000 is designed for global sub-6GHz 5G networks that are launching in Asia, North America and Europe. For more information and specifications visit the MediaTek Dimensity 5G solutions page.