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Intel Patents Dynamic Core Swapping in Multi-core Systems

According to the document published on April 10, the patent covers at least two cores with different performance levels in a single processor, in which the first core can move some function to the second core. The second core would be powered up when it is needed, but it is described to consume substantially less power than the first core when performing a particular function. That idea sounds similar to what hybrid notebooks would take advantage of and it is especially similar to Nvidia is doing with Tegra 3 and its 4+1 architecture, where a fifth core is used to run certain features at a very low power state.

Intel filed the patent in December of 2008 and explicitly describes a power saving feature that is enabled by low power cores that are able to let a circuit power down much more power hungry-cores.

In Intel's description, "in [a] mobile platform, a high performance core is desired for operation when the platform is connected to a fixed infrastructure power network, such as when the mobile platform is docked to a desktop personal computer (PC) for data synchronization. However, when it is used in a battery mode, a low performance with low power consumption is preferred. A fixed microprocessor core with fixed performance characteristics may not be able to accommodate different usage conditions."

The inventors explain that a traditional homogeneous processor core architecture may not be able to achieve the best possible power savings, as cores are typically designed for high clock speeds and include, for example, many more transistors than a low-power core really needs to perform basic functions.

The patent granted to Intel fixes this problem with the idea to build different types of (x86) cores into the same processor.

  • echdskech
    doesn't that tegra 4+1 do that already?
    Reply
  • mihaimm
    Bloody patents... it makes me sad whenever a new one is granted... especially for old technology that is commercially available and made by another company. There is something wrong with the patent office... maybe they're all working on the next TOE but somehow I doubt that...
    Reply
  • tical2399
    mihaimmBloody patents... it makes me sad whenever a new one is granted... especially for old technology that is commercially available and made by another company. There is something wrong with the patent office... maybe they're all working on the next TOE but somehow I doubt that...
    There is nothing wrong with a a patent for a tech that somebody already has a similar version of. As long as you come up with a new method of doing the same thing. By your logic there should only be one of any kind of any product.
    Reply
  • willard
    echdskechdoesn't that tegra 4+1 do that already?You didn't read the article very carefully, did you?

    Intel filed the patent in December of 2008
    Intel filed for this patent at around the same time as the very first Tegra chip was released.
    Reply
  • dan-n
    I'm sorry but how is this different to ARM's big.LITTLE?
    Reply
  • dan-n
    I'm sorry but how is this different to ARM's big.LITTLE?
    Reply
  • trumpeter1994
    dan-nI'm sorry but how is this different to ARM's big.LITTLE?Because it's on a cpu rather than a gpu and I know ARM makes cpu's but when was the last time you saw an ARM laptop?
    Reply
  • trumpeter1994
    Wow this sounds really good though seeing as how intel has such a dominant presence in the notebook market, if combined with nvidia's optimus technology then I can see some massive battery life improvements
    Reply
  • eddieroolz
    Man, looks like NVidia's gotta think of a way to defend its product if Intel ever bites.
    Reply
  • dan-n
    trumpeter1994Wow this sounds really good though seeing as how intel has such a dominant presence in the notebook market, if combined with nvidia's optimus technology then I can see some massive battery life improvements
    Are you saying that ARM's concept is on GPUs?

    If so you're wrong... It's on CPUs, the Cortex-A7 and A15 theyre CPUs not GPUs. X86n is not GPUs thats CPUs too!

    And I'll think you'll find come Windows 8 it will be in a lot of laptops and when the v8 cores come out it will be in even more due to the 64-bit architecture. Furthermore, ARM is in almost 100% of tablets!

    ARMs CPUs are a hell of a lot more power efficient than Intel and have been for years!
    Reply