MediaTek Delivers Efficient Cortex-X2

Our die-photo analysis reveals that the Dimensity 9000 features the smallest Cortex-X2 design, but Apple’s Avalanche CPU still leads in performance and power efficiency.
Linley Gwennap
Linley Gwennap

The Dimensity 9000 was MediaTek’s first experience with Arm’s high-end X-series cores, as it joined Qualcomm and Samsung in premium smartphones. Even so, the company bested its competitors with the smallest Cortex-X2. Despite its size, MediaTek’s design outperforms larger implementations. This impressive combination of performance and size even tops Apple’s Avalanche as the most area-efficient high-end CPU.

Apple continues to set the pace on most other metrics. Avalanche leads all CPUs in per-clock performance (IPC). In the A15 processor, it clearly outperforms all other smartphone CPUs, helping the A15’s six-core cluster take a big power-efficiency lead. The cluster also edges MediaTek’s design in multicore area efficiency.

Intel’s newest microarchitecture, code-named Golden Cove, has the overall performance lead on account of its much higher peak clock speed. But as a desktop-PC core, its area and power greatly exceed those of the Arm-compatible mobile CPUs. In thin-and-light laptops, Golden Cove can’t reach its peak speed. We expect Apple’s upcoming M2 processor, also based on Avalanche, will match the single-core performance of a power-constrained Golden Cove.

Our analysis is based on TechInsights teardown and floor-plan analysis of several products, including the A15, Alder Lake, the Dimensity 9000, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, and Samsung’s Exynos 2200 as well as predecessor parts. We also collected performance data from NotebookCheck, including power data reported by the Geekbench (Arm) and Prime 95 (x86) tests.

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