CORE COM­PE­TI­TION

MUL­TI­PLE CORES IN SMART­PHONES NEED NOT NEC­ES­SAR­ILY MEAN FASTER PER­FOR­MANCE. HERE ARE THE REAL LIFE PA­RAM­E­TERS WHERE MUL­TI­PLE CORES COME INTO AC­TION.

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - MOBILES - BY NIDHI SIN­GAL

Quad-core pro­ces­sors have made their first foray into An­droid de­vices. The over-whelm­ing re­sponse to the Sam­sung Galaxy SIII and the HTC One X prove that this leap in tech­nol­ogy has been suc­cess­ful to an ex­tent. Mul­ti­ple cores make an im­pact on con­sumers who think this will give their phones bet­ter pro­cess­ing power. Some be­lieve that dou­ble the cores means dou­ble the per­for­mance. That, of course, is not nec­es­sar­ily true; smart­phone per­for­mance does not de­pend solely on the num­ber of cores. There are other fac­tors like bat­tery and mem­ory too.

UN­DER­STAND­ING MUL­TI­PLE CORES

The sin­gle-core pro­ces­sors that our phones have used for long did ev­ery­thing sin­gle hand­edly. But with multi- core pro­ces­sors com­ing in, the phone’s task is di­vided among mul­ti­ple cores that do their por­tion of the job and try to fin­ish the task faster.

All chips be­ing used in smart­phones—by smart­phones we mean An­droid, Win­dows Phone and Ap­ple de­vices—are de­signed by ARM. So ARM pro­ces­sors form the ba­sis of ev­ery phone. The en­tire sys­tem is placed on a sin­gle chip, pop­u­larly known as “sys­tem on chip” (SoC).

ARM has come out with dif­fer­ent de­signs like the Cor­tex A5, A7, A8, A9 and A15. Ac­cordig to ex­perts, each chip is bet­ter than its pre­de­ces­sor. For in­stance, the sin­gle- core A9 chip will dom­i­nate the A8. Chip­mak­ers like Qual­comm and NVIDIA use this and tweak it fur­ther be­fore in­te­grat­ing it in their fi­nal de­signs. Fur­ther, these chips have to strike a fine bal­ance with the oper­at­ing sys­tem, ap­pli­ca­tions and phone bat­tery for the op­ti­mum per­for­mance.

QUAD-CORE PROM­ISES AND CHAL­LENGES

Like the dual- core pro­ces­sors in­tro­duced last year, smart­phones pow­ered by quad-core chips prom­ise to of­fer faster per­for­mance with bet­ter bat­tery backup. Tech­ni­cally, on a quad­core-pow­ered An­droid, the screen res­o­lu­tion should look sharper, stream­ing HD video should be smoother, load­ing pho­tos and apps should be faster and heavy graphic mul­ti­player gam­ing should be flaw­less.

Ac­cord­ing to NVIDIA, “The An­droid OS sup­ports multi-thread­ing and uses mul­ti­ple CPU cores to de­liver faster re­spon­sive­ness and higher per­for­mance when the user is run­ning mul­ti­ple pro­grammes at the same time. Multi- core pro­ces­sors also help de­liver longer bat­tery life by shar­ing work­loads across mul­ti­ple CPU cores and run­ning each core at lower volt­age and fre­quency. This re­sults in sig­nif­i­cant bat­tery life im­prove­ments.”

To­day, we have smart­phones with quad-core pro­ces­sors, but do we have the apps that can utilise this tech­nol­ogy? Not yet. Most of the apps avail­able to­day are built for de­vices that run on sin­gle or dual core pro­ces­sors. There­fore they can’t lever­age the ex­tra pro­cess­ing power of the quad core chips.

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