October 17, 2021

MediaTek launches Dimensity 1200: 168Hz, ray tracing, 200MP support

MediaTek also launched the slightly less capable Dimensity 1100, ostensibly aimed at mid-tier devices.

Mediatek Dimensity 1200 1

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority
  • MediaTek has launched the Dimensity 1200 and 1100 processors.
  • The Dimensity 1200 is the flagship-level chipset while the Dimensity 1100 is a step below.
  • The chips still sport the same GPU as last year’s Dimensity 1000 series.

MediaTek launched its first flagship chip in a couple of years when it revealed the Dimensity 1000 series at the end of 2019. The chip and its Dimensity 1000 Plus variant didn’t quite challenge the Snapdragon 865 in terms of sheer horsepower, but it still brought plenty of power and features to the table.

Now, the Taiwanese chipmaker is back with two new processors in the flagship-level Dimensity 1200 and the slightly less capable Dimensity 1100, and they share quite a few features. They both offer 6nm designs and octa-core processors featuring four Cortex-A78 CPUs and four Cortex-A55 CPUs. The processors also share an integrated 5G modem with sub-6Ghz support (no mmWave just yet) and 5G+5G dual SIM capabilities.

Bizarrely enough, MediaTek’s two chips also share the same Mali-G77 MP9 GPU, previously seen on last year’s Dimensity 1000 series. That isn’t much of an issue for the slightly lower tier Dimensity 1100, but it’s rather disappointing for the top-end Dimensity 1200. This means that you aren’t getting a proper graphics upgrade over phones powered by last year’s flagship silicon, which was thought to be down on GPU power over the Snapdragon 865 series. In fact, it looks like even the mid-range Exynos 1080 processor could have the edge over MediaTek’s newest flagship SoC.

The firm’s new SoCs also offer Bluetooth 5.2 support, Wi-Fi 6, HDR10+ video playback, 4K/60fps recording, AV1 video decoding, as well as several AI camera features. These features include AI Panorama Night Shot, AI Multi-Person Bokeh, AI Noise Reduction, and AI SDR-to-HDR functionality. But look a little closer and it’s clear that the Dimensity 1200 is the more high-tech chipset here.

Dimensity 1200

Mediatek Dimensity 1200 2

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority

MediaTek has opted for a triple-level CPU arrangement with the Dimensity 1200, featuring one Cortex-A78 CPU clocked at 3Ghz, three Cortex-A78 CPUs at 2.6GHz, and four Cortex-A55 CPUs at 2GHz. This is a rather interesting layout in light of both Samsung and Qualcomm using the beastly Cortex-X1 CPU core as the top-end core in their flagship processors.

Presumably the Taiwanese company isn’t part of Arm’s CXC Program, which spawned the Cortex-X1 in collaboration with select partners. Nevertheless, MediaTek suggested that sustained performance and power efficiency played a role in the reason to choose Cortex-A78 CPUs.

Moving to graphical capabilities, we’re rather surprised to see the chipmaker tout support for ray tracing on both chipsets. This is a graphical technique used to deliver more realistic lighting and reflections, and MediaTek specifically notes that its ray tracing solution works in games and AR apps.

MediaTek told media in response to an Android Authority question that this was a “software add-on to the platform that supports some ray tracing capability.� So we aren’t expecting anything remotely on the level of desktop ray tracing. The company didn’t announce partners for ray-traced applications at the time of writing but, for what it’s worth, the firm’s press release notes Tencent Games as part of a list of “industry collaborators and supporters�.

  MediaTek Dimensity 1200 MediaTek Dimensity 1100 MediaTek Dimensity 1000 Plus
CPU 1x Cortex-A78 @ 3GHz
3x Cortex-A78 @ 2.6GHz
4x Cortex-A55 @ 2GHz
4x Cortex-A78 @ 2.6GHz
4x Cortex-A55 @ 2GHz
4x Cortex-A77 @ 2.6GHz
4x Cortex-A55 @ 2GHz
GPU Arm Mali-G77 MP9 Arm Mali-G77 MP9 Arm Mali-G77 MP9
Display 168Hz at FHD+
90Hz at QHD+
144Hz at FHD+
90Hz at QHD+
144Hz at FHD+
90Hz at QHD+
Machine learning APU 3.0
six cores
APU 3.0
six cores
APU 3.0
six cores
Modem Helio M70 5G
Sub-6Ghz
Helio M70 5G
Sub-6Ghz
Helio M70 5G
Sub-6Ghz
Camera 200MP single
32MP+16MP dual
4K/60fps recording
108MP single
32MP+16MP dual
4K/60fps recording
80MP single
32MP+16MP dual
4K/60fps recording
Process 6nm 6nm 7nm

MediaTek is also touting the highest refresh rate we’ve seen yet in a mobile SoC, as it offers 168Hz support. Will we actually see a 168Hz phone though? Well, that’s a question for another day, but it’s worth noting that the Vivo Iqoo Z1 used a Dimensity 1000 Plus chipset and had a 144Hz screen.

In terms of machine learning capabilities, the firm is sticking to its six-core APU still, dubbed APU 3.0. But it has updated the tech for lower latency and better efficiency, while also claiming a 10% performance boost over last year’s silicon.

Finally, the Dimensity 1200 looks like a very capable camera platform, with a five-core “HDR ISP� enabling support for up to 200MP cameras (or 32MP+16MP dual), as well as “staggered� 4K HDR recording for better dynamic range.

Dimensity 1100

The second chip announced today is definitely a step down from the Dimensity 1200, as it offers four Cortex-A78 CPUs at 2.6GHz and four Cortex-A55 CPUs running at 2GHz. But this should still result in a power and efficiency boost compared to the Dimensity 1000 series, while the move to a 6nm design should see further efficiency gains.

In saying so, the Dimensity 1100 has a lot in common elsewhere with last year’s flagship silicon. We see the same Mali-G77 MP9 GPU of course, support for 144Hz refresh rates (or QHD+ at 90Hz), and a hexa-core APU for machine learning. So it should deliver a pretty well-rounded experience for mid-tier devices.

The new processor does up the ante over the old one by delivering support for 108MP cameras, compared to the Dimensity 1000 series topping out at 80MP.

Otherwise, we’re guessing that the Dimensity 1100 will be a rival to the Exynos 1080 and Qualcomm’s latest upper mid-range processors.

When to expect it?

MediaTek says that the first devices with Dimensity 1200 and Dimensity 1100 processors will be shipping at the end of Q1 or the beginning of Q2 2021. It’s worth noting that the Dimensity 1000 series didn’t leave China until the second half of 2020, but hopefully phones with the new chips come to global markets much sooner.

The chipmaker also added that OEMs such as Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo, and Realme have expressed support for the new processors.

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