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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  • at_clucks - Sunday, November 21, 2021 - link

    Hundreds of thousands of people are homeless around him every day, thousands die, but the dude is worried about how evil communists are. Most people are minimally educated, and most of that minimal education is propaganda.

    I guess our friend there never noticed capitalism has no humanity in it either, people are homeless or poisoned every day *because* their well-being can't be quantified on a balance sheet, or worse, because harming their well-being can be quantified in the extra profit it allows. Hell, the Flint water crisis would have cost $80/day to avoid and yet 20000 children alone were exposed to dangerous levels of lead to save that money.

    People just need to bury their head in the sand and assume they're on the right side of morality. We are good so they are bad.
  • mode_13h - Monday, November 22, 2021 - link

    > people are homeless or poisoned every day *because* their well-being can't be
    > quantified on a balance sheet, or worse, because harming their well-being can be
    > quantified in the extra profit it allows.

    These are not problems capitalism was intended to solve. That's the role of government. It's government's job to put guard rails on what corporations can do, so that their interests don't run counter to that of the citizens. How well it's done varies, but the solution is to improve government's regulation of the economy, rather than to dispense with capitalism altogether.

    > the Flint water crisis

    That wasn't a corporate decision. It was the indebted state of Michigan trying to save money in a reckless and incompetent way. It has nothing to do with your previous point.
  • at_clucks - Wednesday, November 24, 2021 - link

    @mode_13h "These are not problems capitalism was intended to solve"

    No but ignoring them is a act lacking humanity from all those "capitalist" individuals, making it particularly ironic for AnsyX to act worried about how "communists have no humanity". And do I really need to keep giving you examples of how capitalists have proven heartless again and again in that ultimate capitalist quest of maximizing profits?

    Also I can make 2 points in a single comment. The state of Michigan is, to my knowledge, almost entirely capitalist both as population and leadership. Any action lacking humanity there is "capitalist lack of humanity".

    Just trying to highlight how asinine is for someone to come here and say how they fought communists and they have no humanity. That kind of conviction and use of a very wide brush non-ironically or just to make a counterpoint is representative of low education and/or IQ.
  • mode_13h - Thursday, November 25, 2021 - link

    > do I really need to keep giving you examples of how capitalists have proven heartless

    No. It's been said that many CEOs have sociopathic tendencies. The actions of corporations, if performed by a person, would definitely earn that person the label of a sociopath. That's where regulations are supposed to enter the picture. It's somewhat necessarily so, because "values" are hard to quantify, and one corporation will always argue that if they don't seize every opportunity and cut every cost, their competitors would, anyhow.

    > The state of Michigan is, to my knowledge, almost entirely capitalist both as population
    > and leadership. Any action lacking humanity there is "capitalist lack of humanity".

    It exists in a capitalistic context, but it's not a for-profit entity. The goal of States is merely to balance their budgets, not make money. They face resource-management problems, just as states in communist countries would. Communism doesn't erase the fact that resources are finite, and even communist countries use money and have economic systems.
  • Arbie - Saturday, November 20, 2021 - link

    Just noting: Nazi = Socialist is common on the alt-right deploraboards. That way they can conclude that Dems = Liberals = Socialists = Communists = Nazis.
  • smalM - Monday, November 22, 2021 - link

    Nazi is short for Nationalsozialist = national socialist. The acronym was created after Sozi = Sozialist = socialist.
    It is a leftist tall tale that the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei wasn't a socialist party.
  • melgross - Monday, November 22, 2021 - link

    The Nazi’s were socialists. Hitler said so in his own writings. If you knew anything about their economy, you would know that.
  • imoc - Wednesday, December 8, 2021 - link

    LOL true. It's almost 2022 and people still think China is communist.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Friday, November 19, 2021 - link

    Taiwanese is a race, not a type of government, you bigot.
  • Peter2k - Friday, November 19, 2021 - link

    Taiwan is a democratic nation that isn't even recognized by 99% of other nations
    It's way closer to call it a government then a nation, since no one really recognizes it in an official manner

    If you mean native Taiwanese, sure they are they're own race

    But no one really means that, that's like Japan also has natives who are not genetically linked to Japanese as they themselves see them

    Taiwanese are ethically Chinese
    They migrated there for a few hundred years until finally the Kuomintang lost and retreated there with like 2 million in tow

    But hey, at least you got to call some random person on the internet a bigot over an issue that will likely spark WWIII

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