The revolution brought about by Apple’s M1 chips has made us all look back: Intel and AMD still have a lot to say, sure, but the interest in chipmakers with ARM architecture is growing.
Qualcomm is probably the most notable for its forays into the ultraportable segment with the collaboration of Microsoft, but watch out for MediaTek : the company sold more mobile chips than anyone else in the third quarter of 2020, but it also just introduced two SoCs aimed at Chromebooks starting to aim high.
The consultancy Counterpoint revealed these days a singular data: MediaTek managed to surpass Qualcomm itself during the third quarter of 2020, and in that period it managed to gain a 31% market share, surpassing Qualcomm’s 29%.
MediaTek has taken advantage of the fall of Samsung, which went from 16% to 12% of share compared to the same period of 2019, and also that of Qualcomm itself, which slightly reduced that share from 31% to 29%. No one has sold more smartphone chips than MediaTek in July, August and September 2020, but that’s only part of the story.
We may not hear much about MediaTek: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon seems to dominate the world of mid-range and high-end smartphones, but according to Counterpoint, MediaTek’s proposals are extremely popular on $ 100-250 mobiles , and both China and India They have helped that market share grow significantly.
There is another interesting factor in the rise of MediaTek: “MediaTek’s share of chipsets in Xiaomi has increased by more than three orders of magnitude since the same period last year”, but also the firm has taken advantage of the veto suffered by Huawei , and the MediaTek chips that TSMC makes have now been the choice for many OEMs who are no longer able (or unwilling) to take advantage of Huawei’s proposals.
Qualcomm dominates the market in SoCs with 5G connectivity, but be careful here because Mediatek’s Dimensity family also wants to “democratize” that connectivity in more affordable terminals. What Counterpoint is not talking about is something that can potentially determine the future of this and other ARM chipmakers: the jump to models for laptops and even desktop PCs .
Mediatek announced at the beginning of November the arrival of its MT8192 (manufactured with 7 nm photolithography) and MT8195 (which goes further and is manufactured in 6 nm) , two SoCs that were specifically oriented to future Chromebooks based on the Chrome OS operating system. of Google.
The Cortex-A78s on MediaTek’s latest Chromebook chips are great, but the Cortex-X1s are spectacular and give this and other manufacturers room for maneuver to use them to conquer the ARM PC and laptop market.
While the MT8192s are intended for somewhat more modest equipment, the MT8195s are especially promising for that photolithography and for having eight cores, four of which are ARM Cortex-A78s . The latter, although not yet rivals for Intel or AMD, are a first step that marks the ambition of this company to make the leap to ultraportables , laptops and perhaps desktop computers.
Watch out, Intel and AMD: ARM prepares its assault on the PC with its new Cortex-X1 because it already has the mobiles controlled
ARM has the Cortex-X1 ready to go a step further in that area, and we are precisely waiting for the arrival of Samsung’s Exynos 2100 , which according to rumors will use them and bring their performance to the level of the Snapdragon 888 … or perhaps above.
The most advanced chip from MediaTek for Chromebooks is therefore striking, but it seems to be actually halfway if we take into account that ARM has prepared the Cortex-X1 since May to make a more forceful leap when it comes to conquering PCs and above all laptops.
It seems once again that the problem of standing up to the Apple M1 is not so much of the SoC manufacturers (who may be somewhat behind, but not as much as one might think), but of Microsoft, which should hit the table and offer a Windows 10 ARM much more solvent and without the limitations that have been seen so far in the field of application compatibility.
Those improvements are already on the way, but in the absence of official announcements it seems that 2021 will be a somewhat confusing year for the PC and laptop market, which could be torn between the traditional x86 approach or that new fever for ARM microphones that have awakened the newer Macs with the M1 chip.