MediaTek chip

As much as MediaTek is known for powering budget smartphones, the company is keen to make a fast track into the big leagues. Or bigger, at any rate. General manager Xie Qingjiang explains to China Times that MediaTek should have a quad-core, 28-nanometer mobile processor in production between the fall and the very start of 2013 -- not bad for a firm that just introduced a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 design this summer. Smartphones built around the new part should arrive before the first quarter of 2013 is over. Details aren't available for the processor in question, although it's reasonable to say that MediaTek is more likely to serve a cost-conscious crowd than to compete in the lofty realms of the similarly 28nm Snapdragon S4 Pro. The move to quad-core could nonetheless be a welcome spike in performance for an audience that often has to settle for old technology.