MediaTek unveils 10-core chip that promises better battery life

The Helios X20 will begin shipping to vendors in December

Not satisfied with offering eight-core chips, Taiwan's MediaTek has unveiled a mobile processor with 10 cores.

On Tuesday, the vendor announced its Helios X20, a "deca-core" chip that it claims can offer better power efficiency and improved performance over competing processors.

The cores of the Helios X20 are in three clusters, essentially packing together a dual-core chip with a pair of quad-cores. The dual-core cluster, which uses two ARM Cortex-A72 2.5 GHz processors, is meant to handle the most intensive tasks. The pair of quad-core clusters are designed for medium and lower-scale computing.

MediaTek claims this configuration can help save 30 percent on battery life over traditional chips, while keeping the phone's software running smoothly.

The Helios X20 will launch in December, and is designed for top-of-the-range smartphones. The Taiwanese chip vendor has been primarily selling to handset makers in China, but it is aiming to attract bigger-name clients as it competes with Qualcomm in the mobile processor market.

MediaTek drew attention with the launch of its eight-core chip in 2013, but weeks later Qualcomm called such processors "dumb." Later, though, Qualcomm, took a step back from that remark, and began offering its own eight-core chips.

Analysts have said that, at least on the marketing side, adding more cores to a chip helps phone makers better promote their products as cutting edge.

MediaTek's Helios X20 will be built with a 20-nanometer manufacturing process, and can operate two dual cameras in the back of a phone. Having dual cameras can allow a phone software to sense depth in images, a feature some of HTC's phones have. In addition, the Helios X20 can feed a 1080p display at 120 frames per second. The system on a chip also has a modem for 4G LTE FDD/TDD and 3G bands.

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Michael Kan

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