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Android Smart TV / Media Player Chipsets

Every Android TV box or Media Player is built around a single chip, containing the CPU / graphics processor / audio hardware, and all other functions. This type of integrated design is called SoC (System on a Chip) or simply 'chipset'.

We have been listing Media Players and Smart TV boxes according to chipset since 2008.

Chipset Rating

We have rated the most common media chipsets from 1 to 5. These ratings are used for the 'Chipset Rating' part of our main index. UPDATED JUNE 2014.

Page last updated: 11-Jun-14

RatingChipset
5
4.5Amlogic S802-H.
4Amlogic S802, Sigma 8910/8911.
3.5Rockchip RK3188, Amlogic 8726-M6, Amlogic 8726-M3 (high due to Linux XBMC), Realtek 1186 (with Gigabit LAN)
3Rockchip RK3066, Allwinner A31, Amlogic 8726-M1, Sigma 8647, Sigma 8673, Sigma 8670, Sigma 8643, Sigma 8642, Sigma 8655, Sigma 8654, HiSilicon Hi3716C, Realtek 1186 (with 10/100 LAN), Realtek 1185, Realtek 1055.
2Sigma 8635, Sigma 8634, Amlogic 8626, Realtek 1073, Realtek 1283, Boxchip F10, Allwinner A20, Allwinner A10, Allwinner A10S, Intel CE3000, Intel CE4000.
1

Android Chipsets

This section briefly runs through some common Android chipsets. We use rough Antutu benchmarks as an indicator of performance.

HiSilicon Kirin 920 - Oct 2014 - Octa-core ARM 4xA7, 4xA15 CPU. Quad-core Mali-T628 GPU. Antutu ~38,000.
Rockchip RK3288 - Sep 2014 - Quad-core ARM A17 CPU. Quad-core Mali-T764 GPU.
Realtek RTD1195 - Sep 2014 - Dual-core ARM A7 CPU. Dual-core MAli-400 GPU. Claims to be H.265 and 4K2K video capable.
Amlogic S805 - Apr 2014 - Cost-down version of S802. Quad-core ARM A5 CPU. Quad-core Mali-450 GPU. Media Player version of S805 tablet chipset.
Amlogic S802-H - Feb 2014 - Quad-core A9r4 CPU. Six-core Mali-450 GPU. Adds Dolby Digital / DD+ hardware decoding to S802. Antutu ~25000. Runs XBMC 13.1+ perfectly.
Amlogic S802 - Feb 2014 - Quad-core A9r4 CPU. Six-core Mali-450 GPU. Media Player version of M801/M802 tablet chipset. Antutu ~25000. Runs XBMC 13.1+ perfectly.
HiSilicon Hi3716C - Aug 2013 - Dual-core A9 CPU. Single-core Mali-400 GPU. Built for media playback. 7.1 HD-Audio and 3D. Antutu ~5000.
Allwinner A20 - May 2013 - Dual-core A7 CPU. Dual-core Mali-400 GPU. Faster and lower power usage update to the A10. Antutu ~5000.
Rockchip RK3188 - Apr 2013 - Quad-core A9 CPU. Quad-core Mali-400 GPU. Very strong in all areas. Antutu ~20000.
Allwinner A31 - Feb 2013 - Quad-core A5 CPU. Dual-core PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU. Faster than all of the dual-core chipsets. Antutu ~12500.
Actions ATM7029 - Jan 2013 - Quad-core A5 CPU. Dual-core Vivante GC1000 GPU. Comparable to the A31 overall but with a weaker GPU. Antutu ~12000.
Rockchip RK3066 - Aug 2012 - Dual-core A9 CPU. Quad-core Mali-400 GPU. Roughly comparable to the Amlogic M6/MX. Antutu ~9000.
Amlogic 8726-M6/MX - Jun 2012 - Dual-core A9 CPU. Dual-core Mali-400 GPU. Big step up in performance from the single core chips. Antutu ~8500.
Allwinner A13 - Nov 2012 - Single-core A8 CPU. Single-core Mali-400 GPU. Low power version of the A10. Antutu ~2500.
Wondermedia WM8850 - Aug 2012 - Single-core A9 CPU. Single-core Mali-400 GPU. A little faster than the Amlogic M3 or Allwinner A10. Antutu ~3200.
Amlogic 8726-M3 - Apr 2012 - Single-core A9 CPU. Single-core Mali-400 GPU. Slightly faster than the Allwinner A10. Antutu ~3000.
Amlogic 8726-M1 - Feb 2012 - Single-core A9 CPU. Single-core Mali-400 GPU. Slow overall but fast GPU. Antutu ~2000.
Allwinner A10 - Nov 2011 - Single-core A8 CPU. Single-core Mali-400 GPU. Now slow in comparison to newer chipsets. Antutu ~2500.

Android Chipsets

Single Core
Android Smart TV
ARM chipsets running Google's Android operating system are increasingly used in today's Media Players / Android TV Boxes. The versatility of the Android operating system offers web browsers, Youtube, games. etc.

Cortex A17, Cortex A9, Cortex A8, Cortex A5, Cortex A7? WTF?!
You will often see ARM chipsets advertised as 'Cortex A8' or 'Cortex A9'. All this means is that the main processing part of the chipset uses either the A8 or A9 ARM core. In theory the Cortex A9 core is faster than the A8 but in reality it is not that simple. Other aspects of the chipset design are more important than the ARM core used. Some recent chipsets are based on Cortex A7 or Cortex A5. Again, the number is not really related to performance. A7 is a low power version of the A8 and A5 is a newer low cost replacement for the A9.

1.5Ghz must be better than 1.2Ghz, right?
Clock speed is important in a chipset's performance but it cannot be used to make reliable comparisons. A quad-core RK3188 chipset running at 1.2Ghz will be many times more powerful than a single core WM8850 chipset running at 1.5Ghz. Manufacturers give misleading information regarding clock speed. Theoretical maximums are often quoted rather than the speed the device actually runs at on the default firmware.

Dual Core
Android Smart TV

What about the GPU?
The other major factor when looking at ARM based chipsets is the graphics co-processor (GPU). This is more important than the processing core for decoding HD video streams, and is completely separate from it. For a long time the Mali-400 ARM core was the de-facto standard GPU and offered very good performance. We are now (in 2014) starting to see it's successors taking market share. The Mali-450 is an improvement on the Mali-400, but remember that even a single Mali-400 core running at the lowest clock rate available can easily decode 1080p video!

Which chipset is the best?! That's all I want to know!
Calm yourself. There isn't a 'best', they're all different. See the specific Android chipset listing above for info.

Does all this matter?
No, it usually doesn't! Whilst it's nice to have the fastest possible hardware, even the least powerful is perfectly capable of playing video, browsing the web, and using Youtube. The newest and fastest chipsets are of most use when playing games, for use as a Smart TV there is very little difference between something like an Amlogic M6 and a Rockchip RK3188. It's more important to look at the firmware and whether it is going be compatible with what you want to run. Running Android does not mean that every box is automatically compatible with every App. There are big differences.

Quad Core
Android Smart TV

I want XBMC! Which is best for that?
We have a dedicated XBMC page here. XBMC support for Android used to be patchy with different degrees of 720p/1080p video support. The Amlogic S802 chipset running XBMC 13.1+ is the first chipset to offer excellent XBMC support out of the box. We recommend the Amlogic S802 / S802-H for Android XBMC, it's fast and plays everything.

Hardware quality.
Manufacturing an Android box is actually fairly easy and hence many Chinese manufacturers are now doing it. Beware!, the vast majority of the products you'll find are basically junk. The hardware will be built badly so it will break, the manufacturers have no idea how to get the firmware running properly on the hardware, and the products will lack the legally required European (CE) or American (FCC) safety certification. We recommend sticking with the more well known manufacturers or reputable retailers operating out of your locality.

Android Chipset Links

Actions Semiconductor Wiki
Allwinner Wiki
Rockchip Wiki
WonderMedia Wiki
HiSilicon Wiki
Actions Semiconductor Official
Allwinner Technology Official
Amlogic Official
RockChip Official
WonderMedia Official
HiSilicon Official

Specialist Media Chipset History

The classic 'Media Player' originated in the mid 2000s as high quality video content started to become available via the internet. A market emerged for simple set top boxes that enabled the playback of this video on a home TV.

Up to late 2007 you needed a very powerful computer with an expensive graphics card to decode HD video. The Sigma 863x was the first integrated and relatively low cost solution to allow HD video playback on a TV. As with all Media Player chipsets before and after, the Sigma 863x was a SoC (system on a chip) design whereby all hardware functions are contained within the chipset (video, sound, LAN, interface. etc). This enabled boxes powered by it to be small and relatively inexpensive. Very quickly these new 'Media Player' boxes became popular.

In the following years there were a succesion of specialist Media Player SoC chipsets, generally getting more powerful and adding features.

2007/8

Sigma Designs
Specialist Media Players
The early years were dominated by Sigma Designs and the 8634 / 8635 chipset. The 863x ran at 300Mhz, and whilst it played back most video content including the emerging container of choice MKV, it was very slow at doing anything other than video. User interfaces on Sigma 863x players were slow and the players took a long time to boot. The Sigma 863x was usually limited to 5.1 HD-audio only.

Key players from this era were the original WDTV and the grandaddy of all Media Players, the Popcorn A-100 NMT from Syabas. These players were very popular despite being priced at $200+, something that seems ridiculous today! Also at this time the Chinese manufacturers jumped onto the scene, with players like the HDX-1000 and Egreat M34-A becoming popular cheaper clones of the Popcorn A-100 NMT.

2009

Realtek
Specialist Media Players

The burgeoning popularity of Media Players in 2009 led to the entry of Realtek into the market. The Realtek 1xx3 chipset series was much touted and managed to offer both superior performance than the Sigma 863x and a vastly lower price. Despite early versions failing to deliver on promises (no 7.1 audio until the DD revision) a new breed of players managed to overtake the Sigma players in popularity, largely due to the low prices.

For Reatek chipsets the last number in the chipset name indicates the chipset generation. So all chips ending in '3' are 1xx3 (2009) generation and all ending in '5' are 1xx5 (2011) generation. The fact that 1073 is a higher number than 1055 does not matter, it is the final number that indicates the age and core design of the chip.

There were three major versions of Raltek 1xx3 and several minor variations. The three major 1xx3 chipset versions were the 1073, 1183, and 1283. These were all the same chip in terms of format support and performance, the only difference being the added ability to record AV sources in the 1283. HD Audio support in the 1xx3 improved through the chipset's life with several revisions. The DD and CC versions of the chipset both added full 7.1 HD-audio support to the chipset.

Realtek 1073 players were all based on a common SDK (firmware+OS) provided by Realtek. This meant that they were all essentially similar in performance and interface. It also meant that producing these players was very easy for manufacturers, all they had to do was create the hardware and Realtek provided the software.

Key players from the Realtek 1073 era were the original Xtreamer, the Asus O!PlayHD, and the ACRyan PlayOn. The Chinese manufacturers got into the Realtek 1073 in an even greater way than with the Sigma 863x because Realtek provided the SDK, meaning they had no software to develop. There were literally hundreds of Realtek 1073 players released (we list 158).

In response to the challenge from Realtek and in recognition of the aging nature of the 863x, Sigma released two new chipsets in late 2009, the 864x series and 865x series. The Sigma 864x and the 865x are related and similar chips, with the 864x being the more powerful. The 865x is clocked at 500Mhz and the 864x at 667Mhz. These two Sigma chipsets would last well into 2012 with many variations.

The Sigma 8643 and 8642 are identical except that the 8642 is a Macrovision version allowing for the ability to play copy protected DVD / Blu-Ray. The 864x chipset is significantly more powerful than the 865x series, despite the product number being lower. The 864x chipset offered full 7.1 HD-audio downmix and passthrough.

The 864x tended to be used by the established and most popular manufacturers. Key players included the Popcorn Hour C-200 and HDI Dune Base 3.

There were initially 8655 (64bit RAM - 6 video DACS), 8653 (32bit RAM - 4 video DACS), 8654 (Macrovision enabled version of 8655), and 8652 (Macrovision version of 8653) versions of the 865x. All 865x chipsets perform the same in terms of video format support and performance. In theory the 865x offers full 7.1 HD-audio support but in reality licencing problems means that DTS-HD MA passthrough is missing in many players (e.g. WDTV Live 2011). In 2011 there was also released a version with Android 2.2 support (similar to the Realtek 1186), this version did not gain much support from manufacturers and only appeared in a couple of players.

2010

In 2010 several new manufacturers released media chipsets. Attempting to compete on cost were Amlogic and Boxchip with their 8626H and F10 chipsets respectively.

Other Manufacturer
Specialist Media Players

The AmLogic 8626H (Apollo) chipset was launched in early 2010 as a budget alternative to the Realtek 1073. It runs at 400mhz and appears to be at least equal in decoding performance to the Realtek chips whilst being even cheaper. The 8626H's main drawbacks are that it does not support lossless HD-Audio or WMV / VC-1.

The Boxchip F10 is SoChip SC9800 based, and offers full 7.1 downmix. Clock speed is as yet unknown but decoding performance has been shown to be comparable with 1073 based players.

Players using Intel chipsets started to appear in late 2010. Both Google TV and BoxeeBox use the Intel CE4100. This chip runs at 1.2Ghz and reports state it is capable of 90Mbit/s h.264 video, making it roughly on a par (for h.264) with the 667Mhz Sigma 864x series. As of 2012 is seems Intel have abandoned their CE line and their attempts to create a media chipset.

2011

The 865x range was suceeded by the 8670, offering a 700Mhz clock, and 30% lower heat.

Sigma released the 8647, an updated version of the 8642 running at 800Mhz.

In early 2011 the Realtek RTD 1055, and 1185 (1xx5) chips were launched. These are the successors to the 1073 series. All three chips run at 500Mhz so providing a small performance increase, otherwise the chips offer the same comprehensive format support as the previous generation. All chips run the same Realtek SDK4 Casablanca, offering a much better user experience (aesthetically, added media indexing, thumbnails..) from the stock SDK. As with the later version of the 1xx8 chipset full 7.1 HD-audio downmix and passthrough are supported in the 1xx5.

The next generation of Realtek chipset, the '6' series 1186 was released in early October 2011. This runs at 750Mhz, has HDMI 1.4, is capable of 3D including 3D ISO, and is able to dual boot into Android.

Key 1186 players include the Xtreamer Prodigy 3D and HiMedia 900B.

2012

The Sigma 8910 with VXP image processing was released as a high-end solution.

Also from Sigma, the 867x chipset appeared in a few products aimed at the lower end of the market.

The big development in 2012 was the shifting of the mass-market onto ARM Android chipsets. See the sections at the top of this page for info.

Media Player SoC Chipset Comparison Table
Click on column heading to sort.

Manufacturer Chipset Family Launch Date Model Clock MHZ LAN Audio Notes
Realtek '6' Series 2011-10 1186 750 10/100/1000 DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD HDMI 1.4 + 3D support. Dual boot Android.
Realtek '5' Series 2011-07 1005 500 NONE DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD Cut down 1055. 8MB flash. SATA.
Sigma Designs 8910 2012-12 8910 1200 10/100/1000 DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD VXP, 1080p 3D, dual core
Amlogic 8726 2011-11 8726H ? 10/100/1000? ? Very little known!
Realtek '5' Series 1901-01 1085 500 10/100/1000 DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD Lower heat, 20% faster than 107x, Flash web browser. Possibly dead AUG2011.
Sigma Designs 8670 2011-09 8670 700 10/100/1000 DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD 30% less heat
Sigma Designs 865x 2011-11 8656 500 10/100/1000 DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD 3D Hardware Acceleration. Possibly dead. OCT2011?
Sigma Designs 864x 2011-11 8647 800 10/100/1000 DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD Possibly dead? OCT2011
Sigma Designs 864x 2011-11 8646 800 10/100/1000 DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD Macrovision. Possibly dead? OCT2011
Marvell Cortex A9 2011-06 88DE3010 1200 10/100 DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD Blu-Ray Java menus, 3D
Realtek '5' Series 2011-03 1185 500 10/100/1000 DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD Lower heat, 20% faster than 107x, DVB-T, Flash web browser
Realtek '5' Series 2010-11 1055 500 NONE DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD Lower heat, 20% faster than 107x
Intel Intel CE 2010-10 CE4200 1200 10/100/1000 DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD 3D, video encoder
Intel Intel CE 2010-10 CE4100 1200 10/100/1000 DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD
Boxchip SC9800 2010-09 F10 ? NONE DTS, DD, TrueHD DM
Realtek '3' Series 2010-09 1073DDC+ 400 10/100 DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD ?
Amlogic 8626 2010-01 8626H 400 10/100 DTS, DD
Intel Intel CE 2010-01 CE3100 800 10/100/1000 DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD
Sigma Designs 865x 2009-10 8655 500 10/100 DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD 64bit RAM, 6 * Video DAC
Sigma Designs 865x 2009-10 8654 500 10/100 DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD 64bit RAM, 6 * Video DAC, Macrovision
Sigma Designs 865x 2009-10 8653 500 10/100 DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD 32bit RAM, 4* Video DAC
Sigma Designs 865x 2009-10 8652 500 10/100 DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD 32bit RAM, 4* Video DAC, Macrovision
Sigma Designs 864x 2009-09 8642 667 10/100 DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD Macrovision
Sigma Designs 864x 2009-09 8643 667 10/100 DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD
Realtek '3' Series 2009-06 1073DA 400 10/100 DD
Realtek '3' Series 2009-06 1283 400 10/100 DTS, DD AV record
Realtek '3' Series 2009-06 1073DD+ 400 10/100 DTS, DD
Realtek '3' Series 2009-06 1283DD+ 400 10/100 DTS, DD, DTSMA, TrueHD
Realtek '3' Series 2009-06 1183 400 10/100 DTS, DD, DTSMA Cut down 1283
Sigma Designs 863x 2008-01 8635 300 10/100 DD, DTS (partial)

Links

Sigma Chipset Selection Guide Q2 2012
Sigma Chipset Comparison 2011
Sigma SMP8910
Sigma SMP8670
Sigma SMP8652
Sigma SMP8646
Sigma SMP8642
Sigma SMP863x
Anadtech - Intel CE4100 Specs
Amlogic Products Page
ARM - 11 Series information

MiniX NEO X8
Quad-core Amlogic S802 Android 4.4 KitKat box. 8-core Mali450 GPU offering awesome image quality and performance. Pre-installed fast and stable MiniX XBMC 13.1. Outstanding hardware quality and technical support.
£89.99 / €114
POWER AND QUALITY
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