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Qualcomm: Mobile Processor Core Wars are Pointless

By - Source: Tech.Sina | B 34 comments

Samsung recently announced world's first eight-core mobile processor.

With quad-core smartphones now becoming more common, Qualcomm has stressed that mobile processor core wars in the smartphone industry are pointless and are not in the interest of consumers.

CEO Paul Jacobs was speaking during the Born Mobile presentation in China when he pointed out that Samsung's Exynos 5 Octa eight-core mobile chip simply utilizes a meaningless number for a publicity stunt.

He added that, when considering energy and thermal factors, the more cores a mobile manufacturer adds into their devices, the more challenging it becomes to manage them.

The executive stressed that the core wars will die down in the future. Instead, he believes the focus should be migrating towards real advantages for consumers such as smooth interface performance and faster downloads.

One of the predominant goals of mobile CPU advancements is preserving battery life while also maintaining performance levels. Samsung is doing exactly that with its eight-core processor through the utilization of big.LTTLE architecture.

Time will tell which architecture philosophy will come out on top.

UPDATE: Our story source, Unwired View, has updated with the following: "Qualcomm contacted us to point out that Paul Jacobs’ comments were taken out of context (having something translated from English to Chinese and then back to English again can do that, no doubt). Per Qualcomm, Jacobs did not use the words “misleading” or “publicity stunt” with relation to Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa processor. Furthermore, the words “publicity stunt” were not used at all. Qualcomm’s CEO did refer to the whole general focus on the number of cores in the mobile CPU space as “misleading”, though."

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  • 24 Hide
    Avus , January 18, 2013 5:05 PM
    When you are behind in technologies, saying your competitions' newest tech is useless.. sound like a loser to me..

Other Comments
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , January 18, 2013 5:04 PM
    I must admit, 8 cores is just ridiculous, even most gaming PCs only contain quad cores, I know its a 4+4 architecture, but its just pointless, maybe if they did a dual core A9 and a quad core A15 then this thing would save a lot of battery and have a tonne of power
  • 24 Hide
    Avus , January 18, 2013 5:05 PM
    When you are behind in technologies, saying your competitions' newest tech is useless.. sound like a loser to me..

  • 4 Hide
    mikemp3 , January 18, 2013 5:12 PM
    Don't they consider battery life is also a consumer conseration, will you have to keep the phone tethered the the charger, or will they supply a 1Kg battery to go with it.
  • 3 Hide
    MKBL , January 18, 2013 5:37 PM
    It's a valid point at least for the moment, although it may not remain pointless next year or later. It all depends what other parts of technologies in the smartphone-sphere will throw at the processor eventually.
  • 2 Hide
    deksman , January 18, 2013 5:47 PM
    These mobile cpu wars ARE pointless.. at least for now because they still don't have enough power to run numerous complex programs native to PC.

    Also, the reason they are encountering problems with battery life and temperatures is because technology is made from outdated/inefficient materials and methods of production.
    Plus, we aren't constructing technology to reflect the BEST of what is possible and in line with latest scientific knowledge, but instead, companies focus on what's monetarily viable (cost effective/cheap).
    They don't care about technical efficiency, they care about COST EFFICIENCY.

    Realistically, smartphones could be orders of magnitude more powerful than the best supercomputers and consume ridiculously small amounts of power, and in a tiny form factor.
    But good luck seeing that in capitalistic oriented environment anytime soon.
  • 4 Hide
    g00fysmiley , January 18, 2013 5:52 PM
    to be fair the "8 core" samsung processor is a 4+4 processor 4 powerful cores for use when using games and demanding aps and 4 less beefy power saving cores for texting or internet browsing, also it is going into things like the galaxny note 3 which given the size an spec (and 5000mAh battery) to use and supply the chip
  • 1 Hide
    jn77 , January 18, 2013 6:13 PM
    We are complaining about 4+4 or 8 cores now. In 10 years smart phones will have 16 or 32 cores, each core or sets of cores will be for different purposes or tasks.

    Computers will be the same way. Intel showed off silcone with 80 core per CPU dies on it a few years ago.

    The proof is also in the pudding......... More cores at lower power per core has generated CPU's that use less over all power than the previous 2 core or single core CPU.

    I will be more than happy to use my 64 or 128 core mobile phone while you use your java based half core mobile phone.
  • 0 Hide
    ddpruitt , January 18, 2013 6:35 PM
    Anything more than two cores is pointless. Few people will actually run anything that will utilize more than two cores. At least with two cores you can run the UI on one with more intensive tasks on another thus keeping the device responsive. The people who would use more than two cores are power users who'll end up using a more powerful form factor anyway.
  • 0 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , January 18, 2013 6:43 PM
    unless you can plug in a monitor and keyboard in to a quad core phone and start using full fledged programs instead of "apps", it will never neet to use more than 2 cores. Better off having less cores running faster, with boost clock or something to keep power optimised.
  • -3 Hide
    jn77 , January 18, 2013 6:50 PM
    iam2thecroweunless you can plug in a monitor and keyboard in to a quad core phone and start using full fledged programs instead of "apps", it will never neet to use more than 2 cores. Better off having less cores running faster, with boost clock or something to keep power optimised.

    ddpruittAnything more than two cores is pointless. Few people will actually run anything that will utilize more than two cores. At least with two cores you can run the UI on one with more intensive tasks on another thus keeping the device responsive. The people who would use more than two cores are power users who'll end up using a more powerful form factor anyway.



    This is absurd. Even a GS3 will get bogged down (US Dual Core version) if you are running 2-3 apps at once and try to open a 1080p video (which it has to down scale). That problem won't happen with 4 cores, or the affect of the slow down will be lessened by the extra 2 cores.
  • 0 Hide
    scannall , January 18, 2013 7:05 PM
    jn77This is absurd. Even a GS3 will get bogged down (US Dual Core version) if you are running 2-3 apps at once and try to open a 1080p video (which it has to down scale). That problem won't happen with 4 cores, or the affect of the slow down will be lessened by the extra 2 cores.



    Most of that problem is Android, and it's underlying inefficiencies. Android as an OS is a real resource hog. Not to mention Dalvic. Makes it somewhat easier to develop apps for a wide variety of SOC's. At a big speed cost.
  • -3 Hide
    thecolorblue , January 18, 2013 7:20 PM
    AvusWhen you are behind in technologies, saying your competitions' newest tech is useless.. sound like a loser to me..

    clueless much?
  • 0 Hide
    becherovka , January 18, 2013 7:49 PM
    Wait and see. But why is iphones duel core larger than most quad cores? I don't know if core's are the problem here. Android is quite efficient at least lately and should be more so with Key Lime Pie. The mobile phone is going to be your computer at some point otherwise faster cpus in a phone are kinda useless anyway.
  • 4 Hide
    Cazalan , January 18, 2013 7:54 PM
    Simulations are only so good. At some point they have to make the hardware and test it.

    Got to give Samsung props for trying the first big.LITTLE implementation. It could backfire but they have dual/quad core designs to fall back on. They have the manufacturing advantage over Qualcomm so they can take that risk.
  • 5 Hide
    InvalidError , January 18, 2013 8:15 PM
    The problem with multi-core mobile chips are essentially the same as they are on desktop chips: the majority of programs tend to end up fundamentally single-cored and/or delegating trivial/menial tasks to threads rather than any meaningful amount of work. For example, in the Android developer guidebook, delegating image loads to threads. The aim isn't to make efficient use of the CPU, it is only to reduce lag in the main thread.
  • 1 Hide
    fulle , January 18, 2013 8:31 PM
    OK, so I have an HTC One, which has a Qualcomm dual core S4 SOC. There is an international version of the same phone with a quad core in it. Same goes for the Galaxy S3.

    The main drawbacks on the S4, being dual core, is that in HTC Sense image data can't be offloaded onto the extra 2 cores, so that some images don't load in the interface until I'm fully in that area. For example, when in the application list in my launcher, if I drag from "All" to "Frequent", I don't see any Icons in the "Frequent" area, just a grey screen that says "Frequent" until I let go. No preview for me, since I'm dual core. Similarly, I get no image preview when in my Contact list, moving from, say, Groups to People..... And, a another minor negative, since the background can't be offloaded, Live Backgrounds are more likely to cause interface lag, or even cause minor breaks in sound when listening to music. As the background ends up loading one of the 2 cores, it causes the sound to break for a split second, and hence the hickup. Doesn't happen on the quad core.

    Is this a big deal? Nope. Would I rather have the same phone with a quad core in it? Absolutely.

    Qualcomm certainly wouldn't be saying anything negative about more cores, if they weren't behind. They're making Quad Core chips too. I bet their stance on the matter changes soon, when their quad core Krait chip is found in phones in larger markets. Then suddenly it'll be "Check out how amazing our quad core SOC is, and how much better it performs than dual core chips"
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , January 18, 2013 8:33 PM
    It's not really an 8 core, it's a quad core, and looks to be a very good one.

    I do high performance multithreaded programming, and I firmly believe that more than 4 cores is great. However, there's definitely diminishing returns after 4 cores for trying to speed up a single process that requires a lot of concurrency, unlike most server applications that don't require a lot of concurrency between threads/processes. However, having 6 or 8 cores leaves plenty of CPU power for the OS and to do something else while you wait.

    However, 4 cores (including the big.LITTLE Exynos 5) are probably the sweet-spot for a phone/tablet CPU. Call it excessive when there's a 16 core big.LITTLE.
  • 3 Hide
    ojas , January 18, 2013 8:41 PM
    deksmanTRealistically, smartphones could be orders of magnitude more powerful than the best supercomputers and consume ridiculously small amounts of power, and in a tiny form factor.

    Um, how? The best supercomputers can process petaflops right now.

    And if you got a petaflop of processing power out of a tiny phone, imagine what s supercomputer would do with the same tech.

    Also, Zak, FFS, it's a 4+4 core, stop calling it an 8-core.
  • 1 Hide
    Niva , January 18, 2013 8:45 PM
    deksmanRealistically, smartphones could be orders of magnitude more powerful than the best supercomputers and consume ridiculously small amounts of power, and in a tiny form factor.But good luck seeing that in capitalistic oriented environment anytime soon.


    I'm not sure how/why your post is being up-rated. We live in a material world. Where supercomputers are concerned money is not an issue for these companies. If something existed that could be feasibly produced and perform as you've described it would've already been done. The technological and economical aspects of these challenges function in one world, the real world.

    On topic, phones will continue to duke it out in terms of performance just like PCs have since the mid 90s when benchmarking performance became important. Performance will continue to be important and better performance will cost more to put in your pocket than lower performing parts of the same generation hardware. We can never have enough peformance and this is where Qualcomm is just wrong. Until I can run a super-computer equivalent out of my pocket, have it capable of installing a windows virtual machine, run desktop monitor, keyboard and audio when docked (meaning: simply rested against a charge pad on my desk) I will not be satisfied.

    I'm waiting for the day they start plugging us into the matrix directly.
  • 1 Hide
    Shin-san , January 18, 2013 9:49 PM
    InvalidErrorThe problem with multi-core mobile chips are essentially the same as they are on desktop chips: the majority of programs tend to end up fundamentally single-cored and/or delegating trivial/menial tasks to threads rather than any meaningful amount of work. For example, in the Android developer guidebook, delegating image loads to threads. The aim isn't to make efficient use of the CPU, it is only to reduce lag in the main thread.
    This gets worse. You can only update the UI items via the main UI thread. So, you get all sorts of potential issues trying to do stuff with the UI, so it's many times easier to have a stable app by not doing the offloading.

    The "long loads to threads" idea is actually an old one. Basically, there's a loop in a lot of OSes. Part of that loop deals with drawing the window/view/whatever it's called. If that function doesn't get called, your program looks frozen, even though it could be working just fine.
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