Chipsets play an important role in the functionality and performance of a smartphone. In addition to the central and graphics processing units (CPUs and GPUs), the chipset manages features such as display resolution, graphics, camera capabilities, battery charging speeds, connectivity and more besides.
The advent of 5G networks, along with a range of new applications and possibilities, is helping to spur massive growth and innovation in the SoC space. With 5G adoption and network rollout moving faster than 4G/LTE did, the SoC market is forecast to grow to a value of nearly $6.85 billion by 2026 in North America, Europe, South America, and Middle East and Africa . Here are a few factors we expect to see driving the market forward over the next few months:
Getting the most out of 5G everyday
5G rollout is accelerating across Africa. This technology will vastly improve people’s experience across video streaming and large file downloads and will enable new applications in the realm of virtual/ augmented reality and the Internet of Things (IoT). 5G is also an alternative to fibre in areas with poor fixed-line infrastructure.
Chipset manufacturers have focused on creating affordable 5G SoCs that enable phone manufacturers to create 5G-ready smartphones from entry-level to top-end phones so everyone can enjoy a speed boost and lower latency. MediaTek’s Dimensity series, for example, enables phone manufacturers to make affordable 5G smartphones with speeds and features that compare well to more expensive devices.
Unending need for speed and efficiency
The promise of Moore’s Law still holds today as CPUs and GPUs pack in more power to handle today’s demanding applications, from 4K streaming and intense gaming to artificial intelligence (AI). But even as we accelerate CPU and GPU speeds in chipsets such as the flagship Dimensity 9000+, we also focus closely on energy efficiency. Not only are chipsets delivering blistering speed, but they are also reaching new heights of performance while consuming less power.
AI on the inside
AI has become an integral part of the smartphone experience through applications such as gaming, photography, virtual assistants and augmented reality. Leading chipset makers are designing their platforms to deliver optimised performance for AI-driven applications, including technologies such as specialised AI processing units (APUs).
At MediaTek, we develop our own Deep Learning Accelerators (DLA), Visual Processing Units (VPU), hardware-based, multi-core scheduler and software development kits (NeuroPilot) to deliver a more efficient AI processing solution than simply using the GPU.
We’re seeing the bar for photography and videography on smartphones rise all the time. Large cameras are now the entry level, along with hardware-based imaging accelerators and AI-camera enhancements such as AI-bokeh, -colour and -beauty. In flagship devices, you can expect to find multiple lenses (wide, standard and zoom) with 320MP camera support and the ability to record 4K HDR video.
Mainstream pricing, premium features
As the trends reveal, innovation in the smartphone market is far from over, and many exciting developments are unfolding in the silicon that powers our devices. In the years to come, we can expect today’s premium features to become tomorrow’s bare minimum as performance, battery life and usability continue to improve in leaps and bounds.
Rami Osman is the Director for Corporate Sales and Marketing, MediaTek Middle East and Africa
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