smartwatch brains

New Android Wear smartwatches may use MediaTek chips

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Most Android Wear smartwatches currently on the market are based around Qualcomm chips, but that could change soon if MediaTek has its way: The Taiwainese semiconductor company announced a new chip specially for smartwatches on Wednesday.

The MediaTek MT2601 system-on-a-chip is based around a dual-core processor using ARM’s Cortex-A7 design. It uses an ARM Mali 400 design for its GPU, and MediaTek’s MT6630 modem for Bluetooth. [company]MediaTek[/company] says it works “with a whole host of external sensors” — so hardware makers can add modules for heart-rate monitoring and GPS.

Except for the Motorola Moto 360, which uses a TI chip, all Android Wear smartwatches currently on sale use a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC, which also powers a good deal of mid-range phones. The Snapdragon 400 wasn’t designed for wearable computers, and sometimes it shows. For instance, the Snapdragon 400 usually uses four Cortex-A7 cores, but it appears that manufacturers disable three of the cores to conserve battery life.

Most Android Wear buyers aren’t looking for raw computing power, so they’d rather have a smartwatch with a better battery life. Hopefully, MediaTek’s new SoC with a small die size will bring improved battery life, and given MediaTek’s history of driving device prices down, possibly less expensive Android Wear smartwatches as well. The MT2601 is in mass production now, so conceivably it could be in commercial smartwatches before too long.


4 Responses to “New Android Wear smartwatches may use MediaTek chips”

  1. Tyrell Corp

    Is just a matter of time that $50 Android smartwatches appear with decent speed/battery life. Apple Watch will come out of the gate very strong and will expand the overall smartwatch market. Android won’t take over until chips like this and cheaper low power screens are available, maybe another year or so that it gets to $50-$100 pricepoint.

  2. This chip leaked long ago ( a slide here ) and they already had the MT2502 a year ago.
    The Alcatel Watch is supposed to be using ST Micro ST429 (doesn’t run Android Wear) and other have chips too.
    That does remind me that Qualcomm besides an apparently very weak cups cycle this year and it’s antitrust problems is also being super lazy.
    They are so arrogant that they don’t even properly serve the tablet market with SoCs designed for it and that’s significant volume and ASP.
    But besides that,where are their chips for wrist worn devices, for glasses, for even smaller things? They left the door wide open for others to grab the market. Intel i,for example, is trying to address those markets and they go far beyond that by buying their wins – not only in tabs, see for example the recent Vuzix investment, that’s mostly them buying a design win. Sure Qualcomm buys some of it’s wins too, they do invest in many phone makers.
    Qualcomm needs to wake up and work much much harder, Intel has lots of resources and they can’t do to Intel what Intel did to AMD to suppress it, they actually need to do their job.
    Maybe they are wasting too much time on harming Mediatek and pleasing carriers and lost perspective.They need to focus on the product.
    It doesn’t help that they are cutting costs to please Wall Street now, when they aren’t even addressing core markets properly.

      • For one the need for 3G/4G, that’s a big chunk of a Qualcomm chip ( for SD800 Chipworks measured the die size at 118mm2 , the LTE part seems to be at 26mm2 so 22% of the die – really hard to find die size data and die shots so no idea about SD400). Sure the adoption of tabs with mobile connectivity is growing but the majority don’t have it.
        Then you got higher TDP budget so you can clock it higher or make a bigger and faster chip.
        The cameras are lower res and you could use a lesser ISP.
        You could also factor in differences in usage, video and gaming should be more popular on tabs so you could use better video decoding for video and a bigger GPU.
        Apple for example does have a different SoC for tabs isn’t it? Nvidia Tegra is not very fit for tablets.
        Ofc the main things would be the connectivity and TDP differences, addressing the smaller things could be too much effort for too little.
        Sure the tablet market is some 5-6 times smaller than the phone market and not spending to better address it seems reasonable. But others and Intel is even spending many billions to buy wins so it makes no sense for Qualcomm to rest on it’s laurels.
        Allwinner announced a quad A53 today (the A64) that apparently costs 5$ and they have a quad A7 at 4$. Rockchip has the new RK3368 octa A53, Mediatek has some tablet SKUs but not sure how different they actually are ,if it’s not just higher clocks at this point.
        There is plenty of competition while Qualcomm doesn’t have that much share.They could try harder.
        On the watches side not sure who’s to blame for the use of smartphone chips, could even be Google but the fact remains that that we haven’t see dedicated chips from Qualcomm while others are making more of an effort.
        Hopefully they wake up and come back with a vengeance, like Intel did when AMD had the perf lead. Hell, maybe it’s good if they lose some share, much better to have real competition than a dominant player..