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TI: Dual-Core OMAP5 Faster Than Quad-Core Cortex A9

By - Source: YouTube | B 45 comments

Texas Instruments (TI) is questioning the performance advantage of quad-core smartphone processors over dual-core processors.

In a video released prior to the opening of the Mobile World Congress, TI compares its OMAP5 chip to a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 and shows that two cores can outrun four cores, at least in loading web pages.

The OMAP5 processor completed the test run in 95 seconds, while the "commercial" and "competing" quad-core required 201 seconds. While Qualcomm did not mention the name of the competing processor we assume that it was Nvidia's Tegra 4-Plus-1, which is the only quad-core Cortex-A9 chip currently available. Of course, the demonstration was in TI's favor, as the A15 is promised by ARM to deliver roughly twice the per-watt and per-clock performance as the A9, which suggests that it will outperform A9 chips especially in single- and dual-thread applications such as web browsing. The demonstrated OMAP5 chip was running at only 800 MHz, while the quad-core was clocked at 1.3 GHz. According to the manufacturer commercial OMAP5 processor may reach clock speeds of up to 2.5 GHz.

However, it appears that TI has found additional ways to optimize the multithreading performance as an MP3 file was played and a video was downloaded during the web page loading test. We will have to wait for actual phones to be available to determine the real-world performance of the OMAP5, but 2012 shapes up to be an interesting year for smartphone processors - a new entry from Intel with just one core, plenty of dual-cores as well as a few quad-cores from Nvidia, Samsung and Qualcomm.

OMAP 5 smart multicore processor vs. quad-core ARM Cortex-A9

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  • 24 Hide
    danwat1234 , February 25, 2012 10:41 PM
    Now put OMAP 5 in the new TI calculators. I'm tired of 12MHZ 68000 chips in $200 calculators
  • 21 Hide
    Anonymous , February 25, 2012 9:09 PM
    I just don't see why we need quad cores in phones. Maybe when they use less battery, but now dual cores are just fine and fast(as this proves).

    Who does super intensive multitasking important stuff on their phone that needs a quad core anyways?
Other Comments
  • 21 Hide
    Anonymous , February 25, 2012 9:09 PM
    I just don't see why we need quad cores in phones. Maybe when they use less battery, but now dual cores are just fine and fast(as this proves).

    Who does super intensive multitasking important stuff on their phone that needs a quad core anyways?
  • 7 Hide
    ap3x , February 25, 2012 9:14 PM
    Hope this does not surprise anyone although this will be short term as new revs of quads come out. The only thing that is surprising here is that the performance was more than double for the dual core. Could that be partially due to a non-optimized application.

    TI has a long history of really solid engineering.
  • 0 Hide
    ap3x , February 25, 2012 9:16 PM
    TristanBI just don't see why we need quad cores in phones. Maybe when they use less battery, but now dual cores are just fine and fast(as this proves).Who does super intensive multitasking important stuff on their phone that needs a quad core anyways?


    Exactly....I agree completely. I would be surprised if 25% of the applications used more than 1 core on a mobile device and if they did use more than that we would probably have much less battery life.
  • 8 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , February 25, 2012 9:19 PM
    TristanBI just don't see why we need quad cores in phones. Maybe when they use less battery, but now dual cores are just fine and fast(as this proves).

    OMAP5 won't be available in devices before Q4 2012. For now quad-core Cortex A9 based SOC's provide the best performance for mobile devices, and if implemented well (ie Tegra 3) it can do so while providing improved idle batter life.
  • 7 Hide
    dirian , February 25, 2012 9:21 PM
    Thats a very short sighted comment.. Its seems obvious to me that while smart phones and tablets are Nvidias current target they are pushing speed and cores so that along with Windows 8 ARM, they can become a player in the CPU biz and move into desktop / laptop space. Seeing as how Intel will likely never give them an x86 license this is about as good as it gets for them.
  • 7 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , February 25, 2012 9:38 PM
    ap3xExactly....I agree completely. I would be surprised if 25% of the applications used more than 1 core on a mobile device and if they did use more than that we would probably have much less battery life.

    It's difficult to draw a direct comparison to dual-core devices, but at least with Tegra 3, battery life doesn't seem to be much of a concern. Aanadtech did a pretty thorough review of the Transformer Prime, and even under load battery life remains at least on par with dual core devices, all while improving avg performance:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/5163/asus-eee-pad-transformer-prime-nvidia-tegra-3-review/1

    These are battery life updates that were published later:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/5178/an-update-on-transformer-prime-battery-life-wifi-issues

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/5175/asus-transformer-prime-followup/3
  • -7 Hide
    aznshinobi , February 25, 2012 9:47 PM
    ARM better step up its game. I'm starting to lose hope in them, specially with there dismissing of Intel as competition.
  • 6 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , February 25, 2012 9:52 PM
    TristanBI just don't see why we need quad cores in phones. Maybe when they use less battery, but now dual cores are just fine and fast(as this proves).Who does super intensive multitasking important stuff on their phone that needs a quad core anyways?

    If you're talking strictly about today, this year, 2012, I would completely agree with you. Here's why:
    -Are applications even written to utilize more than 1 core?
    -Do most users multi-task enough on their smartphones to justify a need for quad core? No
    -Can Quad-core mobile phones be a useful thing when plugged into a docking station and basically used as a computer on its own? Yes. Are we there yet? No. The Atrix was released about a year ago, and there has been little competition for it. The majority of the people won't care until the iPhone allows this type of support, and Android users will catch on. I think the intent here, more or less is to make a phone powerful enough to "run Crysis" on your smartphone, anytime, anywhere, any docking station without having to carry around a laptop. Personally, I'd like to see that.
    -Is battery life decent enough to run so many applications at once? Only on the Droid RAZR MAXX, but that's only a dual core
    -Are screens actually big enough to spend enough time multi-tasking on them? No, but that may change if/when phones the size of the Galaxy Note become more popular. Steve Jobs hated larger sized phones, so I don't see something of that size coming to the iPhone, and again, most people won't catch onto that since it's not on the iPhone.
    I do realize Android is now more widely used than the iPhone, now, but iPhone users seemingly always want to hop onto the next Apple trend. Android/Google users, not so much, or so it seems.
  • 24 Hide
    danwat1234 , February 25, 2012 10:41 PM
    Now put OMAP 5 in the new TI calculators. I'm tired of 12MHZ 68000 chips in $200 calculators
  • 5 Hide
    fb39ca4 , February 25, 2012 11:21 PM
    was the benchmark even four-threaded?
  • 9 Hide
    dimar , February 25, 2012 11:52 PM
    Even if the applications are not optimized, quad core should still be useful if I want to listen to music, use GPS and other apps at the same time. As long as OS itself is optimized, things should still be fast, right?
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , February 26, 2012 12:21 AM
    OMAP 5 may have its advantages but I'm not sure why Qualcomm was mentioned in the second paragraph..
  • 4 Hide
    jkflipflop98 , February 26, 2012 12:31 AM
    ap3xExactly....I agree completely. I would be surprised if 25% of the applications used more than 1 core on a mobile device and if they did use more than that we would probably have much less battery life.


    So what happens when you want to run 4 single thread only programs at once? If you want to stream an MP3 out to the stereo while using the GPS to navigate and be able to answer the phone, you need more power.
  • 3 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , February 26, 2012 12:47 AM
    pvenkateOMAP 5 may have its advantages but I'm not sure why Qualcomm was mentioned in the second paragraph..

    Nice, didn't notice that. But unfortunately it really doesn't surprise me. Tom's News article authors FTW!
  • 1 Hide
    ap3x , February 26, 2012 12:56 AM
    jkflipflop98So what happens when you want to run 4 single thread only programs at once? If you want to stream an MP3 out to the stereo while using the GPS to navigate and be able to answer the phone, you need more power.


    There is a queing process that processors use to process multiple commands at once. That is how it is done. In some cases the operating system can dynamically set sim affinity to a specific core but the application is still single treaded and would not actually gain any performance benifit from the other cores. Windows 7 actually does some of that because the OS is multi-threaded but most of the applications are not. OSX also does this but most of the applications are also already multi-threaded which is in part why OSX multi-tasks so well. True multithreaded applications actually see a performance gain in terms of handling processor heavy tasks when the additional hardware is available.
  • 1 Hide
    ap3x , February 26, 2012 1:11 AM
    dragonsqrrlIt's difficult to draw a direct comparison to dual-core devices, but at least with Tegra 3, battery life doesn't seem to be much of a concern. Aanadtech did a pretty thorough review of the Transformer Prime, and even under load battery life remains at least on par with dual core devices, all while improving avg performance:http://www.anandtech.com/show/5163 [...] 3-review/1These are battery life updates that were published later:http://www.anandtech.com/show/5178 [...] ifi-issueshttp://www.anandtech.com/show/5175 [...] followup/3


    That is nice however the article does not show that all 4 cores are being used under those testing conditions. It just shows video playback. Not saying that they are not being used, just highlighting the fact that it is not shown. The OS however is definitely multithreaded which is why there is a noticeable increase in smoothness and probably faster load times but again the OS does not put much load on the processor. It is the applications that will do it.

    Give you an example, on my IPhone watching movies, talking on the phone, browsing the web, 5-7 hours battery life with no additional heat depending on how much of each I am doing. Yet I can only play Infinity Blade for 2 hours or less before my phone is out of power and it is noticeably warmer. The Application does not use power it uses hardware. Higher processor and GPU utilization, using multiple cores generates more heat and requires more power therefore a decrease in battery life under those conditions.


  • 0 Hide
    DRosencraft , February 26, 2012 1:28 AM
    Quote:
    That is nice however the article does not show that all 4 cores are being used under those testing conditions. It just shows video playback. Not saying that they are not being used, just highlighting the fact that it is not shown. The OS however is definitely multithreaded which is why there is a noticeable increase in smoothness and probably faster load times but again the OS does not put much load on the processor. It is the applications that will do it.

    Give you an example, on my IPhone watching movies, talking on the phone, browsing the web, 5-7 hours battery life with no additional heat depending on how much of each I am doing. Yet I can only play Infinity Blade for 2 hours or less before my phone is out of power and it is noticeably warmer. The Application does not use power it uses hardware. Higher processor and GPU utilization, using multiple cores generates more heat and requires more power therefore a decrease in battery life under those conditions.


    I technically agree with you, but I think your note about power v. hardware is splitting hairs. Additionally, I expect that streaming video and playing games on your phone, while not identical in stress, will becomparable in the amount of power they will pull. Multi-core/multi-threading, is about accomplishing tasks - getting a group of people to build a house rather than one. The amount of total efffort needed is supposed to be similar, but with multi-core/threading its dispursed to a number of individuals. When you're talking about streaming, it's a slightly different beast, because it operates partially on a set time, not simply as fast as it can go. You want to load an app, you want it to just be fast as possible. You watch a movie, you want it to just run smooth. So yes, a single or dual-core CPU can perform the same tasks as a quad-core, but if the task is optimized properly, the quad-core should be able to finish it faster. This becomes less evident if all you're doing is streaming content, beacause a 90-minute movie is still a 90-minute movie. Here it becomes a matter of whether or not the rest of the hardware (the graphics) can handle the vidoe at the resolution level.

    This is just further proof that hardware is outstripping software particularly badly at the moment. Just take a look at the regularity at which new CPUs and GPUs are released. Hardware is advancing at a phenomenal rate. However, software makers are much slower in developing towards the capabilities of some of these newer hardawre capacities. We're pushing the eight-core boundary in personal desktops, and you've got 16-cores in server processors. If we assume that hardware advancement is not just about hollow bragging-rights, then software still being developed at the single-threaded or even dual-threaded level is a serious bottleneck on the advancement of computing.

    Or we can just assume that there really is no need for all these multi-core processors.
  • -2 Hide
    ap3x , February 26, 2012 1:50 AM
    DRosencraftI technically agree with you, but I think your note about power v. hardware is splitting hairs. Additionally, I expect that streaming video and playing games on your phone, while not identical in stress, will becomparable in the amount of power they will pull. Multi-core/multi-threading, is about accomplishing tasks - getting a group of people to build a house rather than one. The amount of total efffort needed is supposed to be similar, but with multi-core/threading its dispursed to a number of individuals. When you're talking about streaming, it's a slightly different beast, because it operates partially on a set time, not simply as fast as it can go. You want to load an app, you want it to just be fast as possible. You watch a movie, you want it to just run smooth. So yes, a single or dual-core CPU can perform the same tasks as a quad-core, but if the task is optimized properly, the quad-core should be able to finish it faster. This becomes less evident if all you're doing is streaming content, beacause a 90-minute movie is still a 90-minute movie. Here it becomes a matter of whether or not the rest of the hardware (the graphics) can handle the vidoe at the resolution level. This is just further proof that hardware is outstripping software particularly badly at the moment. Just take a look at the regularity at which new CPUs and GPUs are released. Hardware is advancing at a phenomenal rate. However, software makers are much slower in developing towards the capabilities of some of these newer hardawre capacities. We're pushing the eight-core boundary in personal desktops, and you've got 16-cores in server processors. If we assume that hardware advancement is not just about hollow bragging-rights, then software still being developed at the single-threaded or even dual-threaded level is a serious bottleneck on the advancement of computing. Or we can just assume that there really is no need for all these multi-core processors.


    Applications have the be written to use multiple cores period, they don't just come that way just because they are installed on a machine that has multiple cores. When you talking about a 90 minute movie, it is still a 90 minute movie. Having faster hardware does not change that or more cores does not make a 90 minute move playback faster. However the encoding software used to create the movie will finish faster as those applications are written to be multi-threaded and they can spread the work around as you mentioned. Resolution processing will occur on the core designated for use with a single threaded application. That is why if you look at the task manager you will see allot of tops uneven distribution of utilization across all cores in the system. If you have a Video applications running, you will see one core with higher utilization and the other cores sitting at almost idle.

    I used to do allot with firewall performance testing where we did some tweaking of the applications affinity to the cores manually because of the way it distributed processing as flows went through the system. Properly configured we could do a 140Gbs of Firewall performance with 1500 byte packets with 10,000 new connections per second. Without the tweaks we where getting some 3 getting loaded up to 100% utilization while the other 9 cores where sitting at 50% or less.

    Hardware advancements are not just about bragging rights. There is a market for the higher end parts, and servers and pro workstations regularly use applications that leverage the extra cores. But we are not talking about Pro Workstations or Servers, we are talking about Phones. A little different. Even the Games that we play on our computers are really just starting to take advantage of quad core processors. Supreme Commander was one of the first although it did a crappy job of it unless you used the Core balancer application.
  • -3 Hide
    bobusboy , February 26, 2012 2:15 AM
    My single core Incredible S with a custom ROM is faster than my girlfriends Sensation dual core with stock ROM; and mine gets better battery life with the brightness full blast than hers does on min brightness.

    IMO dual core is the most anyone needs IF the software is optimized to utilize it.
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