On Thursday, Nov. 10, at the MediaTek Executive Summit, Adam King, Vice President and General Manager, Client Computing Business Unit, Mediatek, announced the Kompanio 520 and Kompanio 528 chipsets for entry-level Chromebooks. The new chips are the successors of the Kompanio 500, with upgraded CPU, GPU, video codec, better power efficiency, and with support for higher resolution display.
For both products, the heterogeneous 8-core CPU unit combines 2 performance cores Arm Cortex-A76 and 6 efficient core Arm Cortex-A55, a significant upgrade from the Kompanion 500 that features 4 Cortex-A73 and 4 Cortex-A53. The CPU relies on LPDDR4x RAM clocked at 3733MHz.
The only difference between the 520 and the 528 is the performance cores’ frequency, which is clocked at 2GHz for the 520 and 2.2GHz for the 528.
During the presentation, Adam King said that the single-core performance got an 80% boost while the multi-core performance is 15% better, compared to the previous generation.
“THE SINGLE-CORE PERFORMANCE GOT AN 80% BOOST COMPARED TO THE PREVIOUS GENERATION”
Mediatek says it has a sizeable advantage against the Intel Celeron N4500, a common non-heterogeneous dual-core Chromebook processor, especially when it comes to performance-per-watt. Consuming less power to perform a given task could also be seen as emitting less carbon (electricity production emits carbon), and higher power efficiency should translate into better ESG metrics (Environmental, Social, and Governance) in our opinion.
“The sustainability benefits of the MediaTek Kompanio products are significant too, especially in heavy workloads where MediaTek’s low power processors generate 40% – 60% less energy-based greenhouse gas emissions compared to competitor platforms,” said Victor Tyan, Senior Director, Client Computing GTM.
On the GPU side, the Arm Mali-G72 MP3 is replaced by the Arm Mali G52 MC2 2EE in both new chips. “Both GPUs [Arm Mali-G72 MP3 & Arm Mali G52 MC2] are very close in terms of performance and for most people, the performance difference won’t be noticeable in real-world scenarios. But if you still want the better GPU, then Mali-G52 MC2 is the way to go”, according to Tech Centurion (Centurion Mark). We’ll have to test to have more accurate results.
The new dual-core AI processing unit (APU) delivers AI features such as AI-driven real-time low-light video noise reduction and helps with image segmentation and tagging used for virtual green screen and image quality enhancement (i.e. color and contrast tuning optimized for different parts of the image).
The ISP has been improved with up to 32 MP support for the camera. This feature is leveraged from the smartphone SoCs. OEMs might not use the highest resolution in the near future, but they can scale it down easily to 5 MP for example, which is a huge improvement over existing laptop webcams (mostly with 0.7MP webcams).
The upgraded multimedia engine includes hardware VP9 decoding and H.265 encoding, which is an upgrade from the H.264 encoding and H.264, H.265 / HEVC decoding of the last generation (software VP9). The system supports 60fps Full HD video recording now, an upgrade from the FHD 30 fps support in the Kompanio 500. MediaTek claims a 2X performance boost for the multimedia unit.
The Kompanio 520 and 528 each support a Full HD+ display and a Full HD external display, which doubles the resolution support compared to the previous generation chipsets.
ChromeOS is known for its good security track record and Victor Tyan reminded us that MediaTek works closely with Google to integrate the latest security features such as Verified Boot, Built-in Virus Protection, and Multi-User Support with their latest Kompanio 520 and 528 processors.
The Kompanio 520 and 528 processors look very promising in terms of performance and high power efficiency for the uber-affordable Chromebook segment.
MediaTek insisted on the all-day battery life, a feature that helps to alleviate battery life anxiety and allows students to better focus on their work. To prove the point, the chip maker showed a photo of its booth at an education tradeshow, where a range of Kompanio-powered Chromebooks was exhibited without a single power cable lying around.
Schools might like that feature a lot since it is certainly safer for kids to circulate freely in a classroom free of wires and it may be easier for the IT personnel to manage all the computers.