Analysts, Vendors Discuss Future of Mobile Processing Power
Vendors are said to be moving focus away from reliance on mobile processors.
IHS analyst Francis Sideco and Matt Wuebbling, director of Nvidia's Tegra marketing, have discussed the future of mobile processing power.
While smartphones with the latest quad-core chips boast a compelling component and buying point for consumers, Sideco warned that chip companies, handset manufacturers and wireless carriers will begin to focus more on the core experience of a handset such as a smoother experience, larger displays with higher-resolution graphics and improved battery life.
"That's the end game for a lot of these semiconductor companies: connect great experiences and long battery life with their chip," said Sideco.
"Quad-core CPUs will have become the standard for mobile devices," explained Wuebbling. "While some may try to move beyond quad-core, we don't believe there will be a perceptible user benefit."
While Wuebbling believes a five or six-core smartphone won't come into fruition anytime soon, Samsung is said to be preparing one of the first eight-core devices in the form of the Galaxy S4, alongside the rumored ZTE Apache.
Without having the advantage of having more cores in terms of a sales pitch, companies such as AMD, Intel, Nvidia and Qualcomm face the inevitable task of working harder to market their chips. "It's what's keeping their chief marketing officers up at night," Sideco said.
In addition to having central CPU cores, future Snapdragon chips will sport specialized "blocks" that reduce the strain on the main cores. Instead, it'll handle specific tasks such as controlling the sensors or managing the camera lens, so says Raj Talluri, vice president of product management for Qualcomm's CDMA technologies unit.
"We want to make sure that you don't have to charge the phone every day, even if you have that flagship smartphone with the big camera, Wi-Fi, big display, and navigation," he said. "You can't keep packing in bigger batteries because people are used to thin phones."
The extension of a battery life has also been singled out as a priority by companies including Nvidia, who is planning to utilize a fifth "stealth" core that helps to save battery life, while upcoming technology could generally double battery life.
"In 2013 you'll see the gap between console and mobile games almost disappear," Wuebbling stated, referring to the graphical fidelity. Future devices should also feature better camera capture and editing capabilities, he added.
Apple began the trend of higher resolution displays with the PPI (pixels per inch) found in the iPhone's 'Retina' display, while other manufacturers have followed suit. HTC, for one, implemented PPI of 440 in the Droid DNA, with Retina managing PPI of 326.
"It's not necessarily a speeds and feeds discussion anymore, but more about an emotional attachment to the brand," Sideco concluded.