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.