Remember that report starring Amazon’s next line of Kindle Fire tablets which claimed at least two of these were to be powered by Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 800 chip? Though unconfirmed, it had a distinct whiff of credibility and to this day it’s yet to be debunked.
But while thorough, the report left a few things covered in mystery. Like the upcoming entry-level 7-inch Fire, which, let’s be honest, can’t possibly pack a high-end CPU like the Snapdragon 800. So does that mean the slate will be dual-core?
Not necessarily, because there’s another rumor going around with a pretty high credibility factor. According to a Chinese publication, quoted by notorious Taiwanese website Digitimes, MediaTek has landed orders for its spanking new MT8135 quad-core processor from Amazon.
The chipset, unveiled a little over a week ago, rocks two ARM Cortex A15 cores and two ARM Cortex A7 ones in a big.LITTLE configuration similar to that used by Samsung for the Exynos 5 “Octa” processor. Unlike at Sammy’s CPU though, the two dual-core clusters are arranged in such a way they can be used at the same time and not just separately, depending on the power needs of the device.
In short, this is a “true” quad-core chip, though likely one not as zippy as the Snapdragon 800. Now, what could Amazon be using this for? No prizes for getting that right: a low-end, low-cost Kindle Fire, as MediaTek’s processors are known to cost smartphone and tablet OEMs less than their Qualcomm or NVIDIA-made counterparts.
Plus, they’ve become increasingly more reliable and are now used not only for cheap Chinese knock-offs, but also for mid-range LG or Sony gadgets.
That’s all fine and dandy, but there’s still one question to be answered. Since Digitimes is claiming shipments of the MT8135 chipsets are to begin “in 2014”, does that mean the third-gen Kindle Fires will be pushed back until next year or that Amazon will only be using MediaTek’s CPUs starting with the fourth-gen? I think I’ll go for the latter, though the former is not completely out of the question either.