CORE STRENGTH

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - MOBILES TRENDS -

There has been a sud­den rush to­wards hav­ing ad­di­tional cores in smart­phone pro­ces­sors. Till early last year, we were con­tent with a 1GHZ pro­ces­sor present in al­most ev­ery high-end phone. But CES 2011 saw phones with dual-core pro­ces­sors and at that time it­self the chip mak­ers shared their vi­sion of bring­ing in quad-core pro­ces­sors soon.

Ever since, things have been hap­pen­ing so fast that ev­ery­one is bound to be con­fused. So, let’s start with first un­der­stand­ing what these cores are all about.

Says Dr San­deep Sibal, Coun­try Man­ager and Vi­cePres­i­dent, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, Qual­comm In­dia and South Asia: “When we talk about cores we need to clar­ify what we are dis­cussing. In most cases, when peo­ple talk about a quad-core pro­ces­sor, they are re­fer­ring to the num­ber of CPUS in the pro­ces­sor. But on a pure CPU level, clearly, with more CPU cores comes in­creased mo­bile pro­cess­ing per­for­mance. This ad­di­tional CPU per­for­mance cou­pled with other sys­tem com­po­nents such as the GPU, video and au­dio com­po­nents means you’ll see im­prove­ments such as crisper graph­ics, more vivid mo­bile gam­ing, faster Web brows­ing and over­all mul­ti­task­ing.”

Adds Vishal Dhu­par, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor-south Asia, NVIDIA: “De­sign­ing pro­ces­sors for mo­bile de­vices re­quires much more than sim­ply repli­cat­ing com­puter pro­ces­sor ar­chi­tec­ture and fit­ting it into a smaller form fac­tor. The re­sult­ing pro­ces­sor might phys­i­cally fit into a mo­bile de­vice but its power con­sump­tion would re­sult in a de­vice with a bat­tery life of min­utes.”

As a re­sult, both chip mak­ers have in­tro­duced chips with quad-cores that are be­ing used by all big brands. The Te­gra 3 from NVIDIA is used in most of the top-end smart­phones an­nounced so far. As a multi-core CPU is able to al­lo­cate work­load across its cores, each pro­ces­sor core runs at a lower fre­quency and voltage. This means, each core con­sumes sig­nif­i­cantly lower power and of­fers much higher per­for­mance per watt com­pared to a sin­gle-core pro­ces­sor.

The NVIDIA Te­gra 3 comes with a fifth core in a quad­core ar­chi­tec­ture to han­dle less in­ten­sive tasks like up­dat­ing Twit­ter and Face­book, ac­cess­ing emails, mak­ing calls, send­ing text mes­sages and more. These ac­tiv­i­ties

do not re­quire sig­nif­i­cant CPU pro­cess­ing power.

When more de­mand­ing chores are car­ried out, such as stream­ing videos, play­ing Hd-qual­ity games or au­dio play­back, the other four cores are au­to­mat­i­cally called upon to make their ca­pa­bil­i­ties show.

On the other hand, Qual­comm’s Snap­dragon APQ8064 is a sys­tem on chip that in­cludes four Krait CPUS in ad­di­tion to a GPU, video and au­dio hard­ware and host of other ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy com­po­nents. The com­pany has in­te­grated all the ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy com­po­nents into one fully in­te­grated sys­tem on chip that re­sults in bet­ter over­all per­for­mance at lower power.

How­ever, at the mo­ment, we don’t have any smart­phone on Snap­dragon’s quad-core chipset.

While the in­creas­ing num­ber of cores in the pro­ces­sors will en­hance the over­all per­for­mance of the de­vice, there aren’t many apps around that can fully utilise the horse­power pro­vided by these.

To some­what rem­edy the sit­u­a­tion, NVIDIA has de­vel­oped a Te­gra Zone, ex­clu­sive for Te­gra de­vices, with op­ti­mised apps and games.

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