Will 2022 be the year of low-cost 8K TVs? It's not a far-fetched hypothesis, given the recent technological developments and the new MediaTek chip
The year 2021 has been, at least in Italy, the year of Smart TVs: the beginning of the transition to the new standard of second generation Digital Terrestrial transmission, in fact, has prompted Italians to scrap millions of old devices and buy as many new generation TVs. It will be physiological to expect, in our country, a drop in sales of smart and connected TVs in 2022: those who wanted or needed to change TV, in fact, have already done so this year.
But the same cannot be said for the rest of the world, where there hasn't been a major technical transition like the one that took place in Italy but, nevertheless, the electronics industry has remained anything but static and has continued to present new technical solutions and new models, more and more advanced. In 2021, to give just one example, the first mini LED TVs arrived on the market. The year 2022, on the other hand, will probably be characterized by the arrival of the first Smart TVs with a new chip: the Pentonic 2000 from MediaTek, just presented by the Taiwanese giant. Pentonic 2000 is a processor for Smart TVs with enormous potential, at least on paper.
MediaTek Pentonic 2000: what it can do
The new Pentonic 2000 chip from MediaTek is a processor born with 8K on its mind. It may sound absurd, given that 8K content today can be counted on the fingers of one hand, but the peculiarity of this chip is precisely that it can handle without performance problems an 8K stream at 120 Hz, complete with MEMC.
MEMC stands for "Movement E-stimation Movement Compensation" and is a technology that allows, in practice, to create additional frames to increase the frame rate of the video played, while also increasing the feeling of fluidity of the content. Applying MEMC technology to an 8K video stream at 120 Hz requires really high power, which MediaTek Pentonic 2000 claims to have.
According to MediaTek, in fact, the Pentonic 2000 has the most powerful CPU and GPU in the entire Smart TV industry. That is, it would be (and we'll see if it's true) a more powerful chip than Samsung's famous Quantum Processor, the LG Alpha 9 or the Sony XR. Moreover, the MediaTek Pentonic 2000 has been engineered to be able to use UFS 3.1 memory (the same used in top of the line smartphones).
This technical detail is very important, because it allows the real novelty coming to TVs equipped with the new MediaTek chip: picture in picture streaming apps. A large 8k screen, in fact, has enough space to show 4 streams in 4K simultaneously. MediaTek's chip promises to do this by showing video streams from multiple streaming apps running together on the same 8K screen (Internet connection permitting, of course).
This means being able to watch, say, both Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ or Netflix on the same screen, simultaneously. Or watch a single stream while streaming another app in another portion of the screen. But that's not all: the various image enhancement algorithms can be applied separately to each video stream. So, just to give a basic example, we'll be able to see an HDR stream alongside a non-HDR one.
Finally, the new MediaTek Pentonic 2000 can decode in hardware both the codecs used today by streaming platforms and those that will be used tomorrow, such as AV1 (Netflix started using it a few weeks ago) or the VVC H.266 (successor to H.265 that we'll be using in Italy at the end of the DVB-T2 digital terrestrial switch off).
Smart TVs 2022
MediaTek says the first Pentonic 2000-equipped Smart TVs will hit the market starting in 2022, which means it has already started receiving orders from smart TV manufacturers. We will hardly see the Pentonic 2000 on Samsung, LG or Sony TVs, which use proprietary chips and operating systems, but we will certainly see it on a long line of Smart TVs running Android TV.
Xiaomi, Hisense, TCL will most likely be the first brands to use this new processor. It will start from the very high range, since to really take advantage of this processor you need an 8K screen, but we can't exclude that MediaTek will soon present depowered versions of the Pentonic 2000, intended for 4K TVs.
What is certain, however, is that the Pentonic 2000 will be a chip produced in large volumes (MediaTek is the largest manufacturer of chips for smartphones in the world and wants to become the first for TVs), so it will have a lower price than competing chips, to the benefit of those who will buy the new top-of-the-line Smart TVs 2022.