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Can MediaTek’s Dimensity 9300 Take On Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3?

Can MediaTek’s Dimensity 9300 Take On Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3?

The News: MediaTek introduced the Dimensity 9300, its newest flagship mobile chipset characterized by an All-Big-Core design. The unique configuration, which combines advanced performance with power efficiency to deliver high-end user experiences in gaming, video capture, and on-device generative AI processing, is MediaTek’s Android answer to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 mobile chipset. The MediaTek Dimensity 9300 press release is available on the company’s website.

Can MediaTek’s Dimensity 9300 Take On Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3?

Analyst Take: MediaTek’s Dimensity 9300 is built on TSMC’s third generation 4nm process and features four Arm Cortex-X4 cores (with operating speeds of up to 3.25 GHz) and four Cortex-A720 cores (operating up to 2.0 GHz) to maximize performance. The platform also features LPDDR5T 9600 Mbps memory. Per Joe Chen, MediaTek President, “the Dimensity 9300 is MediaTek’s most powerful flagship chip yet, bringing a huge boost in raw computing power to flagship smartphones with our groundbreaking All Big Core design. This unique architecture, combined with our upgraded on-chip AI Processing Unit, will usher in a new era of generative AI applications as developers push the limits with edge AI and hybrid AI computing capabilities.” Chen is not wrong. Spec-wise, the Dimensity 9300 is a solid update to the Dimensity 9200, and the most legitimate contender to Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon mobile SOC to date … but with a few caveats. First though, let us go over a few key components and features:

APU 790 AI Processor: MediaTek has integrated its next-gen APU 790 AI processor into the Dimensity 9300 to power its generative AI performance and manage energy efficiency. The APU 790 doubles the integer and floating-point operations performance and cuts power consumption nearly in half. The APU 790’s processing speed is 8x faster than its predecessor, which allows it to achieve image generation within one second using Stable Diffusion. For reference, this falls in the same general performance range as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. MediaTek also leverages its mixed-precision INT4 quantization technology which, when used in tandem with its NeuroPilot memory hardware compression, optimizes memory bandwidth and shrinks memory requirements for large AI models. The APU 790 supports NeuroPilot Fusion, which is capable of supporting large language models (LLMs) with 1 billion, 7 billion, and 13 billion parameters (scalable to 33 billion). The Dimensity 9300 reportedly supports LLMs such as Meta’s Llama 2, Baichuan 2 and Baidu AI LLM, among others. Note the focus on Chinese LLMs, which reflects MediaTek’s footprint in that market.

Arm’s Immortalis-G720 GPU: MediaTek has equipped the Dimensity 9300 with Arm’s latest flagship graphics processing unit (GPU), the Immortalis-G720, to boost mobile gaming experiences, resulting in a roughly 45% improvement in GPU performance for the same power usage as the Dimensity 9200 (or a roughly 40% reduction in GPU power consumption at the same level of performance). This feature should allow users to multitask (gaming and streaming at the same time or watching a separate video during gameplay). Additionally, by combining the chipset’s octa-core CPU design with MediaTek’s second generation hardware ray-tracing engine, smartphones built on the Dimensity 9300 platform should be able to deliver console-worthy global illumination effects at 60 fps.

The Dimensity 9300’s photo and video systems combine a low-power AI-ISP and always-on HDR up to 4K resolution at 60 frames per second (fps). The platform also supports 4K at 30 fps cinematic mode with real-time bokeh tracking, 4K AI noise reduction (AI-NR) and AI processing on RAW photos and videos, and new Ultra HDR format in Android 14. (For reference, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 supports 8K resolution at 30 fps or 4K 120 fps video capture.)

Connectivity: Connectivity-wise, the Dimensity 9300 features the 5G R16 modem RF system, which supports 4CC-CA Sub-6GHz and 8CC-CA mmWave (with MediaTek’s UltraSave 3.0+ technology for improved power efficiency), Wi-Fi 7 speeds up to 6.5 Gbps, and integrates Xtra RangeT technology for improved long-range connectivity. MediaTek’s Multi-Link Hotspot feature also improves smartphone tethering, which can be pretty useful when on the go.

Dimensity 9300 versus Snapdragon 8 Gen 3

Let us do a quick side-by-side comparison of MediaTek and Qualcomm’s newest flagship SOCs to get a feel for their foundational differences. CPU-wise, MediaTek’s Dimensity 9300 pitches its single Prime Cortex X4 (3.25GHz) against Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3’s Cortex X4 (3.3GHz), and its 3x BIG Cortex X4 (2.8GHz) and 4x Cortex A720 (2.0GHz) against Qualcomm’s combination of 3x Cortex A720 (3.2GHz), 2x A720 (3.0GHz), and 2x Cortex A520 (2.3Ghz). These reflect two very different approaches to SOC performance, and what I infer from them is that although Qualcomm appears to be fine-tuning performance to optimize power efficiency and processing resources for specific categories of applications, MediaTek seems to be prioritizing raw power. (An automotive analogy here would be a meticulously tuned street racer engine versus a muscle car.) This difference does not make either approach right or wrong. They are just different. Both are going to be fast and efficient, and based on the benchmarking I have seen so far, the Dimensity 9300 and Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 generally edge each other out, with no clear overall winner. This standing is quite the accomplishment for MediaTek, given Snapdragon’s market dominance.

The devil is in the details, though, and what I suspect we will discover is that although the Dimensity 9300 platform can compete well with Snapdragon 8 Gen 3’s top-end performance, especially relating to generative AI applications, Snapdragon could deliver smoother, more precise performance in real-world everyday applications, especially when managing multiple workloads or when switching from one application to another. Much of this performance will be predicated on OEM implementation, though, so we might have to wait for a few phones to come out before we know if that is the case.

There is also quite a bit of interesting performance give-and-take here. For example, MediaTek’s Dimensity 9300 challenges the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 camera system with its impressive 320 megapixel 18-bit ISP (to Snapdragon 8 Gen 3’s 200 megapixel 18-bit ISP) and matches Snapdragon’s 8K video at 30 fps, but it misses with 4K video at only 60 fps against Snapdragon’s 4K video at 120 fps. MediaTek also misses with 2960 x 1440 max display resolution against Snapdragon’s 3840 x 2160, and 4K at 60 fps video playback against Snapdragon’s 4K at 120 fps. Connectivity-wise, the Dimensity 9300 edges out the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 with a max Wi-Fi download speed of 6.5 Gbps (versus Snapdragon’s 5.8 Gbps) but misses against Qualcomm’s 10 Gbps 5G modem RF system by maxing out at only 7.9 Gbps.

These differences are not exactly conspicuous market differentiators (you have to go digging for them) but they do give handset OEMs something to think about when considering what market segment they are going after and what features they want to implement, let alone prioritize, in their devices: Does an OEM want to lead with the highest megapixel camera on the market or with the smoothest, highest quality video performance? Will the phone be used primarily for gaming or content creation? Are Wi-Fi download speeds more important than 5G download speeds? And so on.

The point here is that Dimensity 9300 gives MediaTek’s flagship SOC pitch a boost against Snapdragon’s series 8, particularly in the North American market, which the company has so far struggled to penetrate in any meaningful way (despite its global success at more budget-friendly price points). The question is whether any US-focused flagship handset OEMs will be willing to take a chance on the Dimensity 9300 at the expense of the tried-and-true Snapdragon incumbent. More to the point, without a significant performance advantage from the Dimensity 9300 over the incumbent Snapdragon platform, does the risk-to-reward equation work in MediaTek’s favor?

However, flagship handset OEMs ultimately answer that question in 2024, the gap between Dimensity and Snapdragon flagship SOC performance appears to be closing, and to MediaTek’s credit, that risk-versus-reward question is now at least worth asking.

Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.

Other insights from The Futurum Group:

MediaTek Announces On-Device Generative AI Powered by Meta’s Llama 2

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 Brings Generative AI to Smartphones

Qualcomm Raises Bar for On-Device Generative AI at Snapdragon Summit

Author Information

Olivier Blanchard has extensive experience managing product innovation, technology adoption, digital integration, and change management for industry leaders in the B2B, B2C, B2G sectors, and the IT channel. His passion is helping decision-makers and their organizations understand the many risks and opportunities of technology-driven disruption, and leverage innovation to build stronger, better, more competitive companies.  Read Full Bio.


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