MediaTek aims new chip at sub-$200 Android 4.0 smartphones

MediaTek wants to make dual-core smartphones priced under $200 a reality

Chip maker MediaTek hopes to enable sub-$200 smartphones running the Android 4.0 operating system with its latest MT6577 dual-core processor, which the company announced on Wednesday.

The chip is based on a Cortex-A9 processor design from ARM, and has a PowerVR graphics processor that is capable of handling high-definition video, the company said. The chip boosts application and browser performance by up to 40 percent compared to single-core processors that go into entry-level smartphones today, the company said.

Smartphones today come with up to quad-core chips, with many entry-level handsets featuring single-core processors. MediaTak believes dual-core smartphones will take over a larger market share as low-end single-core smartphones phase out, and the company hopes to drop the entry-level price of dual-core smartphones to under $200.

MediaTek is used by some phone makers including Lenovo. Smartphones with the company's new dual-core processor will appear in the third quarter, but the company did not announce customers.

Dual-core processors gained strong acceptance starting in 2011 and were in 20 percent of total smartphones that shipped that year, said analyst firm Strategy Analytics in research released in May. The research firm expects dual-core processors to penetrate even further starting this year, reaching entry-level smartphones by early 2013.

Dual-core smartphones are offered by virtually every mobile chip company including Nvidia, Apple, Samsung, Texas Instruments and Qualcomm. But most of the smartphones with dual-core processors and Android 4.0 are priced above $200. Many entry-level smartphones still come with the older flavors of Android 2.x.

The MT6577 chip also has a number of additional components to power the smartphone. The chip will have a 3G radio for communication on HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) networks, and will support an 8-megapixel camera.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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