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MediaTek looks upmarket with new 64-bit chip

The Taiwan chipmaker has been known for supplying mid- and low-tier mobile devices, but it's pushing to go higher end.

Mediatek MT6595

MediaTek on Tuesday unveiled its most powerful mobile-computer processor to date, part of the Taiwan-based chipmaker's push to get more of its offerings into high-end electronics.

MediaTek has been able to grow by providing chips for mid- and low-cost smartphones and tablets, particularly in emerging markets. But, recently it has been looking to expand upmarket and into new areas, and plans to with its latest 64-bit chip. It's part of its push to go higher end, following last month's plans to start offering chips designed for wearables and devices that can connect home appliances to the Internet. Those efforts could help its ambitions of growing in the US, where it has little exposure.

"We are now aiming to go higher and address the premium segment with new offerings like this," Mohit Bhushan, MediaTek's head of US business development, said in an interview. Still, he noted that while the company looks upmarket it continues to see the mid- and low-tier markets as its "core strength."

In general, 64-bit chips allow for faster apps that can handle a lot of data more efficiently than the 32-bit processors typical in smartphones and tablets today. However, most mobile operating systems and apps don't currently support 64 bit.

The most notable exception is Apple's iPhone 5S, which made waves last fall when it debuted with the industry's first 64-bit ARM-based processor in the A7 chip. Other companies, including Qualcomm, Intel, and Nvidia, have unveiled their 64-bit mobile chip offerings. Samsung earlier this year said it also was working on a 64-bit chip for mobile devices.

The 64-bit capability has long been available in PCs and laptops, but they run off a different architecture called X86.

MediaTek's new MT6795 chip -- available in devices by the end of the year -- joins two other 64-bit mobile chips that the company introduced in February, helping it complete its current lineup of 64-bit offerings. While the other two chips were positioned toward mainstream and entry-level users, the new chip is geared toward top-of-the-line devices using Google's Android operating system. Its 2.2-gigahertz processor is faster than the other two chips, allowing it to provide smoother use of graphics, games, and high-resolution, 2K video, the company said.

Bhushan said MediaTek plans to stand out in that crowded field by offering a broad range of chips, looking to provide a handful of options to makers of smartphones and tablets.