Dimensity 1000: The 5G modem tech inside the most advanced smartphone SoC

Dec 3, 2019

MediaTek Dimensity 1000It’s been years in the making, and we’ve put our efforts into creating more than just a single chip; our 5G technologies will inevitably become part of all our product lines, in a commitment for the long-term. But for now, we’ve created the right product for right time, built to the absolute best of our ability. Here’s a deeper look inside the tech that makes the Dimensity 1000:

Creating not just the best chip, but the best platform that builds the best smartphones

In addition to its leading performance CPU, GPU, AI processing units, cutting-edge imaging and video capture hardware, the MediaTek Dimensity 1000 integrates a full 5G NR (sub-6GHz) modem all into a single chip (the ‘SoC’).

Despite the extreme complexity of a 5G modem, integrating it into the same tiny piece silicon as the rest of the processing elements gives it distinct an advantage in power efficiency and performance. The overall platform size is also minimized so brands can use the extra space for other key features such as bigger batteries or larger camera sensors. Current flagship alternatives use two-chip solutions that combine application processor with separate 5G modem, which is just one of the reasons MediaTek Dimensity 1000 now leads in design.

To achieve a 5G connection requires more than the SoC alone, though. The Dimensity series is connected to other MediaTek chips such as the cellular RF transceiver, envelope tracker and power amplifier, then to the RF front-end (RFFE) and up to eight antennas to complete the 5G platform.

Building an RFFE ecosystem for everywhere

While MediaTek focuses its considerable expertise to create the 5G Modem, Transceiver, Power Amplifier, Envelope Tracker and Power Management ICs, we still partner with a range of companies with specific expertise in RFFE products. This creates a complete, yet flexible platform that offers exceptional performance and power-efficiency characteristics, while also adhering strictly to 5G standards. That flexibility is important, because smartphone design is not a one-size fits all approach. The collaborative platform allows smartphone brands can tailor their designs to meet certain market needs, or to second-source RFFE components and ensure there is enough supply to reduce risk if the product is particularly popular.

Platform collaborations are the standard practice when creating any product, which is why industry standard specifications are created; this includes other essential smartphone components like memory, storage, cameras, displays, batteries, or all the other supplementary ICs.

Our power efficiency advantage

At the chip-level, fully integrating the 5G modem into the smartphone SoC means much lower power use than an external modem chip. We combine it all together using the latest, most power efficient 7nm manufacturing process at TSMC. Also unique among its peers, our transceiver chip is built on an advanced 12nm process, also making it the most power efficient in the industry.

At the platform level our power-efficiency advantages continue. Since MediaTek also makes the power management (PMIC), Envelope Tracker, Power Amplifier and Transceiver we can control power use to a much greater degree when the cellular connection is active, shaving off milliwatts in several areas to collectively save more power, thus allowing us to be more efficient than competitor alternatives.

Beyond this, our technologies such as MediaTek TAS (transmitting antenna switching), a collective of uplink and coverage enhancements (please review our whitepaper) and long-term collaborations with the RFFE ecosystem means at every stage we’ve worked to make MediaTek Dimensity series smartphones extremely power optimized.

What makes a world-class 5G modem?

5G Carrier Aggregation is an essential feature for 5G smartphones in 2020 and beyond

As with 4G LTE, 5G Carrier Aggregation brings significant benefits. The MediaTek Dimensity series is the currently only smartphone series with integrated modem that offers 5G carrier aggregation. Here’s why it’s so significant:

World's Fastest 5G SoC

5G carrier aggregation enables faster performance by combining multiple 5G connections together.

The MediaTek Dimensity 1000 can provide up to 4.7Gbps downlink performance purely via 5G NR, making it the world’s fastest 5G integrated SoC for smartphones. Other 5G SoC products currently only offer up to 2.3Gbps, but by using the advantage of carrier aggregation we can combine two 5G links together to deliver up to 4.7Gbps.

The fastest 4G LTE-enabled smartphone modems can provide up to 2Gbps (Cat-20) performance. However, to achieve this they require eight connections to cell towers (8CC CA), making this a highly compute and power intensive activity that’s also subject to availability. In comparison, 5G can achieve up to 2.3Gbps via a single link, and with two carriers aggregated (2CC CA) that doubles to a maximum of 4.7Gbps. The result is a better user experience: enjoying the fastest possible connectivity with superb power efficiency per byte transferred.

Seamless Handover

5G Carrier Aggregation enables higher average speeds and a seamless handover between two connection areas. Without this technology a user will suffer performance dips as they transition between two connections.

Making 5G a combination of Fast, Effective & Power Efficient

5G NR with carrier aggregation can even approach current levels of mmWave performance, while not being limited by distance, line-of-sight, or the extra cost, power-use and the extra space required to add all the separate mmWave components into a smartphone. We believed focusing our energies on 5G NR with carrier aggregation is a better solution for customers buying 2020 smartphones because it provides considerably more power efficiency and seamless connectivity that reaches further, while also offering extremely fast download speeds and smartphone brands have more internal space for innovative features.

Expect fast growth of 5G CA services

Compared to all previous cellular generations, 5G services are being rolled out faster than ever before. This means you can expect fast growth of carrier aggregation services in many regions, quickly providing its essential benefits.

With this in mind, it’s easy to see how 5G carrier aggregation will rapidly become important so you wouldn’t want to spend money on a flagship 5G smartphone without it.

Our list of 'world's first' continues...

Continuing MediaTek's dual SIM leadership with 5G+5G DSDS

Building on our history of leadership in dual SIM technologies that started in 2008modem designs, we’re introducing 5G+5G dual SIM dual standby (DSDS) to give access to VoNR services and a consistent user experience through speed and service quality via both connections. Some markets demand dual SIM smartphones, and we’re leading the way providing this essential feature.

A leading position for the first wave of 5G Standalone (SA) services

We’re pleased to announce the MediaTek Dimensity 1000 is validated ready for China Mobile’s launch of 5G SA services in 2020, ahead of competitors.

The MediaTek Dimensity 1000 supports both non-standalone (NSA) and standalone (SA) architectures, enabling it the best flexibility to accommodate any 5G connection as new deployments continue around the world.

Complete Spec Ready

Complete 3GPP Release-15 spec readiness

3GPP standards organization governs the specification of 5G designs. The latest Release 15 set the foundations for the standard that is now being employed by global 5G carriers and smartphone modem makers. 5G will be further enhanced in subsequent Releases 16, 17 and on, as ongoing R&D efforts bear fruit, new market needs and new use-cases arise.

With Johan Johansson, Senior Standards Specialist at MediaTek, having been recently elected as Chairman of 3GPP, MediaTek is now more than ever an integral part of this international partnership and we actively contribute to each Release.

The MediaTek Dimensity 1000 enables all 3GPP Release-15 requirements: supporting initial non-standalone (NSA) and upcoming standalone (SA) 5G operator architectures, plus dual connectivity (EN-DC), and a range of connectivity enhancements including DSS, DPS, HPUE, BPA and Uplink Data Compression. Please see our list of whitepapers for the technical details of these 5G technologies.

Supporting Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS)

Since 4G LTE services will continue as 5G use grows, a key part enabling the smooth transition is Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS). Using a simple network software upgrade this allows cellular providers to initially allow 4G and 5G to coexist at the same time and dynamically allocate the right amount of spectrum to each based on demand. The MediaTek Dimensity 1000 supports DSS.

MediaTek's 5G achievements timeline

We have a long track record of R&D achievements that have built a rock-solid foundation ready for the MediaTek Dimensity 1000 launch. Please see our timeline for a detailed review of events that have built our leading position.

Leading R&D efforts for 3GPP Release 16, 17 and future.

We’ve committed over 100 billion NTD (>3.3Bn USD) in 5G R&D to date, so the new Dimensity mobile series is only the beginning. MediaTek is deep into the development and proposals of new wireless technologies that will refine and improve the 5G experience in future 3GPP Releases.

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