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Intel Disses Android's Dual-core Support

By - Source: The Inquirer | B 45 comments

Never mind quad-core, is questioning dual-core chips with Android.

Intel is relatively new to the smartphone game, with just a couple of Medfield devices available today. However, the company is making waves this week thanks to comments made by its General Manager of Mobile and Communications. According to Mike Bell, Android and multiple cores just don't mix. At least not at the moment.

The Inquirer cites Bell as saying Intel's own testing shows that multi-core implementations can actually run slower than single core solutions. What's more, it's not really clear how much of a benefit there is in turning the second core on because of the way 'the people' have not implemented their thread scheduling.

"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," Bell explained to the Inquirer.

"A lot of stuff we are dealing with, thread scheduling and thread affinity, isn't there yet and on top of that, largely when the operating system goes to do a single task, a lot of other stuff stops. 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."

Intel's Medfield chip is a single core mobile platform launching at a time when solutions like the quad-core Tegra 3 is well established in the market, not to mention dual-core solutions from the likes of Qualcomm, so Intel would have had plenty of multi-core options to test against Medfield. Unfortunately Bell didn't mention which multi-core chips tested poorly when compared to Intel's single core.

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  • 15 Hide
    husker , June 12, 2012 5:09 PM
    Here is how to parse these kinds of articles and find the real truth. The article states:

    The Inquirer cites Bell as saying Intel's own testing shows that multi-core implementations can actually run slower than single core solutions.

    Notice that it states it "can" run slower. Not will run slower, or usually runs slower. This is not a strong statement, and can be taken with a grain of salt. For example I can confidently state that laptops "can" spontaneously explode, and Intel chips "can" arrive brand new and fail after 1 day.

    I also don't think they are talking about actually running separate tasks, but single multi-threaded tasks, so you are still getting the benefits of multi-core when doing more than one thing at a time, such as listening to streaming media while surfing the web.
  • 14 Hide
    acerace , June 12, 2012 4:09 PM
    How about a much polished OS for low end devices? Take Windows Phone for example.
  • 13 Hide
    saturnus , June 12, 2012 3:49 PM
    So what Intel is basically saying is that multi-core ARM chips should beat Medfield down even more than they already do but are let down by Androids scheduler.
Other Comments
  • 13 Hide
    eddieroolz , June 12, 2012 3:48 PM
    While I'm sure there's some self-promotion interests involved, Intel is probably right on this one. Dual-core/Quad-core is great for benchmarks and bragging rights, but what can dual-core devices do that single-core can't? So far, I haven't received a good answer from any Android users I know.
  • 13 Hide
    saturnus , June 12, 2012 3:49 PM
    So what Intel is basically saying is that multi-core ARM chips should beat Medfield down even more than they already do but are let down by Androids scheduler.
  • 7 Hide
    outlw6669 , June 12, 2012 3:55 PM
    I can see the logic behind their argument.
    Even if the scheduler was optimized in Android, how many high priority threads are you realistically going to be throwing around?

    With a limited power budget, I would much rather have a much more powerful single core.
    If anything, I could see a low power 'Companion Core' being integrated into the package to handle background tasks and operations while sleeping.

    Wasting the power/thermal budget in mobile devices on more, lower performing, cores has never made sense to me :/ 
  • 14 Hide
    acerace , June 12, 2012 4:09 PM
    How about a much polished OS for low end devices? Take Windows Phone for example.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , June 12, 2012 4:25 PM
    I'd expect that a dual-core processor would allow for better UI performance with separate UI and main threads (which is required by Android, IIRC) although that is becoming less of a problem as hardware acceleration replaces most, if not all, of the work in the UI thread. I believe iOS approaches this differently by suspending all other threads while the UI thread is busy (realtime UI) which results in even smoother graphics than a comparable dual-core android at the expense of throughput.

    I suspect Intel knows what they're talking about here. Anything more than dual-core is wasted on a smartphone and even dual-core's usefulness is debatable with the current state of schedulers (however I'm led to believe AOSP ROMs have better performance on multicore devices)
  • 6 Hide
    Vorador2 , June 12, 2012 4:49 PM
    Well, Intel just outed a single core mobile chipset, so these comments surely aren't biased in any way......also he's not providing any hard data to prove his point, "just saying"

    Nvidia did a whitepaper to prove that multicore chipsets make sense on mobile devices.

    http://www.nvidia.com/content/PDF/tegra_white_papers/tegra-whitepaper-0911a.pdf

    The real problem is that Android still isn't capable of optimizing the use of several cores, but that is very different from flatly saying the single core solutions are faster.
  • 4 Hide
    killabanks , June 12, 2012 4:53 PM
    now they say this but wait till they release their own multi core then it will be " increased performance thanks to quad core"
  • 15 Hide
    husker , June 12, 2012 5:09 PM
    Here is how to parse these kinds of articles and find the real truth. The article states:

    The Inquirer cites Bell as saying Intel's own testing shows that multi-core implementations can actually run slower than single core solutions.

    Notice that it states it "can" run slower. Not will run slower, or usually runs slower. This is not a strong statement, and can be taken with a grain of salt. For example I can confidently state that laptops "can" spontaneously explode, and Intel chips "can" arrive brand new and fail after 1 day.

    I also don't think they are talking about actually running separate tasks, but single multi-threaded tasks, so you are still getting the benefits of multi-core when doing more than one thing at a time, such as listening to streaming media while surfing the web.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , June 12, 2012 5:14 PM
    theres a truth in what he said, i personally own an SGS2 and lumia 710, and guess what? the 710 performance is felt more snappier and intuitive and more ipad-like fluidity, despite the latter being single core and low-end device. some apps and games does runs faster with sgs2 though.
  • 11 Hide
    Anonymous , June 12, 2012 5:14 PM
    I think Intel is just saying that Android needs better thread management. Intel is planning on putting out a dual core phone product in late 2012/early 2013. They are likely testing it and finding out that thread scheduling sucks. This is likely why their single core product is beating most multicore ARM products in benchmarks. I believe they are saying they are going to have to fix the scheduler before they put out their own multicore products. It isn't as sinister as some have made it sound. Sure they are single core so they have a vested interest, but they have already stated they are soon releasing a dual core product. Maybe Tizen does it better???
  • 9 Hide
    BSMonitor , June 12, 2012 5:23 PM
    saturnusSo what Intel is basically saying is that multi-core ARM chips should beat Medfield down even more than they already do but are let down by Androids scheduler.


    Except that Medfield actually outperforms those dual-quad cores in a lot of real world tasks.
  • 5 Hide
    BSMonitor , June 12, 2012 5:30 PM
    huskerHere is how to parse these kinds of articles and find the real truth. The article states:The Inquirer cites Bell as saying Intel's own testing shows that multi-core implementations can actually run slower than single core solutions.Notice that it states it "can" run slower. Not will run slower, or usually runs slower. This is not a strong statement, and can be taken with a grain of salt. For example I can confidently state that laptops "can" spontaneously explode, and Intel chips "can" arrive brand new and fail after 1 day.I also don't think they are talking about actually running separate tasks, but single multi-threaded tasks, so you are still getting the benefits of multi-core when doing more than one thing at a time, such as listening to streaming media while surfing the web.


    On a smart phone, what tasks are you firing off and then switching to another task and chugging right along??

    Nothing. That's the point. Nearly everything you do on a smart phone is one task at a time. That's all the screen really allows for in its application. When you switch between applications, the previous App goes idle until you switch back to it.

    Some Apps might have multiple threads.. IE the browser maybe.. Games, maybe. But typically, not much does.
  • -6 Hide
    soundping , June 12, 2012 5:42 PM
    If you had a choice between a single core or a multiple core phone?

    Answer: multiple core.
  • 3 Hide
    Dangi , June 12, 2012 5:48 PM
    This time Intel is right, even now, when you use your computer with 4 cores there are a few programs that benefits from it, most programs run single core.

    So yeah if you don't have multithreat applications is a waste of money to put so much effort in building multicore CPU's, improving architecture an a few Mhz more should do the trick and bring more performance than dualcore or quadcore CPU's in a mobile enviroment.
  • 8 Hide
    joebob2000 , June 12, 2012 6:04 PM
    zingam_duoThere were benchmarks and shit a few years ago! So go educate yourself before trolling here, Troll!


    LOL. The fact is that a benchmark is nice to look at, but it means shit when you compare it to actual UI performance (the number one complaint of smartphone users). Call me when there is a button-press benchmark and dual/quad core hardware wins. Otherwise GTFO.
  • -8 Hide
    Zingam_Duo , June 12, 2012 6:08 PM
    BSMonitorOn a smart phone, what tasks are you firing off and then switching to another task and chugging right along??Nothing. That's the point. Nearly everything you do on a smart phone is one task at a time. That's all the screen really allows for in its application. When you switch between applications, the previous App goes idle until you switch back to it.Some Apps might have multiple threads.. IE the browser maybe.. Games, maybe. But typically, not much does.


    Any good program would have at least two threads or you are going to have a sad panda.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , June 12, 2012 7:04 PM
    I've compared my now elderly R2D2 Droid 2 to a droid 4, and I honestly can't see a difference at all. I think I was more impressed by the extra RAM it had than the fact it was a dual core. As soon as I see 1.5-2Ghz single or dual core android phones in the market place, then I'll upgrade. But until then, I'm gonna stick with my Droid 2.

    I'd also like to add that the current MFLOPS performance of ARM designs suck! Were talking mid-90's performance levels (around ~50-200 MFLOPS currently). When ARM can match intel, or at least crank out 1 MFLOP per Mhz, then I'll be a little happier.
  • 5 Hide
    jkflipflop98 , June 12, 2012 7:13 PM
    IJustWantToPost3When ARM can match intel, or at least crank out 1 MFLOP per Mhz, then I'll be a little happier.


    That's never going to happen. Ever.
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