Are super fast multi-core smartphones better than single core?
Androids may have bitten off more then they can chew with multi core chips.
Not necessarily, says Intel’s Mike Bell, GM Intel Mobile.
The chip maker has hit out at Android smartphones this week for being ill prepared to deal with ultra fast processors now entering the market, reports The Inquirer.
Intel are blaming chip maker rivals for not working to maximise mobile devices running dual or quad core processors. Qualcomm and Nvidia are currently leading multi-core chip manufacturers inside most smartphones today.
Android mobiles are ill equipped to deal with the capabilities of multi core chips, meaning devices from the likes of Samsung, HTC and Nokia are not running as well as they should despite the seemingly potent, multi-intelligent processors inside.
Because Android’s thread scheduler, the part of the OS that shares available CPUs between the various threads, is not keeping pace.
“The way it’s implemented right now, Android does not make as effective use of multiple cores as it could, and I think – frankly – some of this work could be done by the vendors who create the SoCs, but they just haven’t bothered to do it,” says Bell.
This comes as Intel launches its Medfield Atom processor, a single core chip, which has some of the same capabilities as multi core equivalents with Hyperthreading technology.
In fact, Bell also questions the advantages of multi-core processors, which are hailed for their ability to run more applications at once over single-core’s.
“If you take a look a lot of handsets on the market, when you turn on the second core or having the second core there [on die], the [current] leakage is high enough and their power threshold is low enough because of the size of the case that it isn’t entirely clear you get much of a benefit to turning the second core on.
“We ran our own numbers and [in] some of the use cases we’ve seen, having a second core is actually a detriment, because of the way some of the people have not implemented their thread scheduling.”
LG launched the first dual core smartphone LG Optimus 4X HD last year and now quad core is increasingly become the norm for high spec superphones from the likes of HTC and Samsung. iPhone 4 has a dual core chip, which may be upgraded to a quad core on iPhone 5 to be released later this year.
Intel is also looking to resolve theses issues pertaining to multi-core chips for mobile, says Bell.
“So as we move to multiple cores, we’re actually putting a lot of investment into software to fix the scheduler and fix the threading so if we do multi-core products it actually takes advantage of it.”
Samsung Australia recently launched the Galaxy S which features a 1.4GHz Quad Core processor, which Telecommunications VP hailed ” is what makes performance seamless, letting us handle all the tasks that come our way.”
Intel have yet to make their mark on the smartphone world, despite being one of the chip leaders inside PCs and laptops.
The only smartphones currently carrying Intel’s fledgling Medfield chip are Lenovo’s K800 and Lava Xolo X900, although Motorola is set to team up with Intel for smartphones this year.
“If you are in a non-power constrained case, I think multiple cores make a lot of sense because you can run the cores full out, you can actually heavily load them and/or if the operating system has a good thread scheduler.”