5th Generation APU/NPU, a Massive ISP, and New 5G & WiFi

APU/NPU AI/ML Upgrades

Moving away from CPU and GPU, we find MediaTek’s new “APU”, or AI Processing Unit, or rather NPU as we more generically tend to call it nowadays. MediaTek always had one of the earliest in-house implementations of such an IP, and the Dimensity 9000 now implements the 5th generation of such an IP.

MediaTek promises a +400% performance and power efficiency improvement over the previous generation Dimensity 1200 implementation, which is quite a step-up, however should be contextualised to other more performant competitor platforms.

The company had made one slide available of showcasing MLPerf against Apple’s A15, noting +108% at +75% power efficiency versus the iPhone chip, the company here actually quoted our own published MLPerf figures, however we’ll avoid using the slide as the comparison isn’t great as the iOS variant of the app isn’t fully optimised and doesn’t take advantage of CoreML acceleration.

A more apples-to-apples comparison would be the ETHZ Ai Benchmark across Android devices, here the chip should take advantage of all accelerator blocks including CPU, GPU and NPU, and the Dimensity 9000 is advertised to beat the Google Pixel 6 and the Tensor SoC, which recently had notably outperformed the competition. MediaTek doing even better here seems to be promising for ML performance of the SoC. Naturally, we’ll have to see more detailed benchmarks for a more thorough analysis of the ML performance, but it seems MediaTek has developed a quite solid contender here.

Media Pipelines & Massive ISPs

Moving onto the media side of things, MediaTek also throws in everything but the kitchen sink into the new SoC. We’ll get to the ISP in a bit, but in terms of video encoding and decoding, MediaTek supports all popular current codecs. There is no AV1 encoding yet, but the company says that the chip is the first in the industry to support 8K AV1 decoding – previous generation Dimensity and competitor SoCs only are able to do 4K decoding at the moment.

The display pipeline supports WQHD+ to 144Hz, or FHD+ to 180Hz with full HDR+ Adaptive (10-bit), so the chip should power the highest resolution and refresh rate screens out there.

Getting back to the ISP, MediaTek claims that the camera subsystem is massively revamped in this generation. The Dimensity 9000 features triple ISPs with the ability for concurrent operation, with the chip being able to push through 9 Gigapixels/s. We’re not sure exactly if the figures are comparable across the vendor claims, but Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 “only” supports 2.7GPixel/s. Interestingly enough MediaTek says this is only a 2x throughput increase versus the Dimensity 1200.

The Imagiq790 ISP claims to be the world’s first to support 320MP sensors and MediaTek claims they’re working closely with the sensor vendors to enable such functionality. We’ve heard last year about 200MP sensors when Qualcomm announced the Snapdragon 888, and in September Samsung had announced the HP1 at this resolution, though we haven’t seen devices with it yet.

In triple-camera operation, the ISP supports concurrent 32+32+32MP sensor operation. We’ve seen such operation become more popular in sensor-fusion like scenarios for computation photography, or concurrent video recording on multiple sensors.

The new ISP also vastly improves its capabilities in terms of bit-depth, as MediaTek now upgrades it to a full 18-bit pipeline. Although mobile image sensors today natively are barely 10- or 12-bit at most in terms of their ADC bit-depth, multi-exposure image stacking has become the norm, especially with sensors now also getting more advanced HDR techniques such as staggered HDR captures. The new higher bit-depth ISP now is able to better do exposure merging across multiple frames, with the Dimensity 9000 able to do 270 frames per second (at presumably 4K resolution) across three sensors on its three ISPs.

The raw throughput and processing power here would be immense, and a massive leap over any other current SoC in the market.

MediaTek says that they’ve improved the video pipelines as well, being able to tightly interact with the APU in a memory coherent fashion, bypassing the need to copy data over DRAM, increasing performance and decreasing bandwidth requirements and latency. Presumably vendors would be able to take advantage of the architecture to implement video recording with ML-based image processing models on-the-fly, essentially the same kind of technology Google had presented on its recent Pixel 6 phones and the Google Tensor chip.

Upgraded 5G Modem

On the modem side, MediaTek has had quite a lot of success with its recent 5G modem implementations. The new Dimensity 9000 modem upgrades things even further, advertising for the first time 3CC carrier aggregation with up to 300MHz of Sub-6 bandwidth, allowing for download speeds of up to 7Gbps.

The modem is fully compatible with 3GPP release 16, with one larger change being UL Tx switching, which allows for better uplink capabilities and utilisation of spectrum in multi-band 5G NR deployments.

MediaTek notes that its modem has been extremely power efficient compared to competitor products, and the Dimensity 9000 will continue on this patch by providing advanced power saving technologies.

Although the modem features all the bells and whistles for Sub-6 5G, it does still lack mmWave. MediaTek notes that this is simply a result of the market need and the company’s current customer focus. Currently, the US remains the only market where mmWave truly remains a critical feature, as most vendors opt to not even equip their global device variants with mmWave modules. The company admits that due to this, we’ll unlikely see US devices powered by the Dimensity 9000, and the company is fine with that compromise, as it tries to cater to and focus on vendors which serve the rest of the world. MediaTek noted that next year, we will see mmWave product announcements for the US market, but these will at first be in the low/mid-range line-up.

Finally, on the Wi-Fi side, MediaTek’s Dimensity 9000 platform also comes with their own in-house solution, now supporting Wi-Fi 6E for 6GHz band support, and 160MHz channel bandwidth, as well as Bluetooth 5.3. The GNSS solution now adds BDS-3 connectivity via B1C signals.

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  • mode_13h - Tuesday, November 23, 2021 - link

    > Rarity is irrelevant.

    It's not when you're clearly implying it will be used to dispossess many thousands of their land.

    Sure, you can pick through wikipedia and find rare exceptions, but the general rule actually counts for something. The Supreme Court case you reference was lost because it was badly argued, not because it was wrong in principle.

    The reason there's not much use of eminent domain, and what prompted the US Federal Government to follow that ruling by instituting an explicit policy only to use it for matters of public use & with just compensation is that it's politically unpopular. If some people start getting their property taken unjustly, it creates a panic among others that they could also be on the receiving end of such actions. That's why it's naturally self-limiting and was previously used mainly against the politically disenfranchised.

    I get that you're anti-American. I don't even take issue with that. I do take issue with misrepresentations and distortions.
  • Oxford Guy - Tuesday, November 23, 2021 - link

    'I get that you're anti-American.'

    This is why I informed you that I don't read your posts anymore. I just jump to the expected ad hom at the end.

    This forum would be improved with your account removed.
  • mode_13h - Wednesday, November 24, 2021 - link

    > This forum would be improved with your account removed.

    Obviously, so that you could spread your FUD and disinformation, virtually unchallenged. Don't like it? Find somewhere else to haunt.

    The main takeaway I get from your posts is that you're almost as lazy as you are cynical. You think you can brush away logic, reason, sound argumentation, and facts with unsubstantiated allegations of fallacies, "ad hom's", and a few lazy insults of your own. Nobody is buying it.

    Rest assured that as long as you keep trolling and spreading disinformation on here, I intend to counter it.
  • Oxford Guy - Wednesday, November 24, 2021 - link

    Your posts are far too consistent in terms of the bad faith pattern of using ad hominem as a crutch. People who are able and willing to discuss and debate in a factual manner are beneficial. Those who rely upon trickery aren’t.

    I expect that you’ll criticize me again in your response to these posts but the tu quoque fallacy (and/or conventional ad hom) won’t erase your clear track record of bad-faith/corrupt argumentation in which the character of the poster becomes the subject rather than the actual subject in contention. That goes hand-in-hand with your 'I imagine'/'I'm guessing" tactic of stuffing words into mouths.

    There is not a single poster who frequents this forum who abuses ad hom as frequently as you do, not even close. You and anyone else are free to dislike the assertions I made and challenge the information I post, so long as it’s done without personal attack.

    You have not learned that lesson, despite me highlighting the importance of good-faith discourse many times. Agreeing me some things I write, tepidly or fully, does not erase the ad hom duplicity. I stooped to that level briefly when I became exasperated (the AI comment) but I’m not going to be drawn into that again. Stick to the issues or put a cork in it.
  • mode_13h - Wednesday, November 24, 2021 - link

    > Your posts are far too consistent in terms of the bad faith pattern

    Same. Answering your bad-faith posts gets so tiresome that I sometimes lessen the tedium by replying in kind.

    And you're one to talk about crutches.

    > People who are able and willing to discuss and debate in a factual manner are beneficial.
    > Those who rely upon trickery aren’t.


    > your clear track record of bad-faith/corrupt argumentation

    Nobody appointed you as an adjudicator of our exchanges, and you're hardly impartial. You declare fallacies as if a self-evident and irrefutable fact, rather than the biased opinion of a counter-party. Your accusations are unsubstantiated, almost without exception. If you want a claim to stick, you need to support it.

    > That goes hand-in-hand with your 'I imagine'/'I'm guessing" tactic of stuffing words into mouths.

    It's a rhetorical form of conjecture. It's a presumption I'm proffering with sufficient qualification that it's not to be taken as established fact, and is indeed open to challenge. This is a chat forum. I'm not going to buttress every claim with citations, especially those garnering no objections. And I cannot know, a priori, to which someone might object.

    > Agreeing me some things I write, tepidly or fully, does not erase the ad hom duplicity.

    Get over yourself, guy. I don't care what some internet rando thinks about me, much less one who spouts as much nonsense and trolls as much as you do.

    Do what you want, but I take each post on its merits (or lack thereof).

    > Stick to the issues or put a cork in it.

    How about you not abruptly try to hijack these forums for your own agenda? So long as there are willing participants, it's fine if conversation sometimes naturally meanders. But it's obvious and jarring, when you inject a new subject apropos of absolutely nothing, that you're really not participating in these forums entirely in good faith. The purpose of these forums is to discuss the subject matter of the articles & closely-related topics. That's why most of us are here.

    BTW, I think you'll find that nearly all of the friction between us also happens in off-topic tangents. In fact, if you'd stay more on-topic, I think you'd encounter much less friction between yourself and everyone else.
  • Thud2 - Thursday, November 25, 2021 - link

    So, what do you guys think of that new Mediatek Dimensity SoC? I sure would like to find some forum where I could easily find people opinions about it.
  • melgross - Monday, November 22, 2021 - link

    The Amish won’t see their land confiscated because the own it. What they don’t own, but may use in communal rights can’t be taken, because it’s not theirs to begin with.
  • Oxford Guy - Monday, November 22, 2021 - link

    Eminent domain exists, has been used, can be used again.
  • melgross - Monday, November 22, 2021 - link

    ‘Real communism” means the government has “withered away”. Any place like that? No. What we think of as communist countries like the old USSR and Mao’s China, as well as N Korea, were, or are socialist dictatorships. The only real one left now is N Korea. The others are more strongman run socialist/capitalist.
  • mode_13h - Tuesday, November 23, 2021 - link

    > ‘Real communism” means the government has “withered away”.

    Huh? Source?

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