There’s a bit of a battle going on at the moment among the CPU manufacturers for the hearts and minds of Android device makers (and there users), between those who think four cores in a CPU is more than enough, and those who think eight is barely enough.
And in this sort of battle, which is worth millions to the various CPU makers, PR is just another weapon for use so in some ways, it’s not surprising to see chipmaker Qualcomm come out with a YouTube video that pushes the benefits of quality over quantity when it comes to CPU cores. It even has a Guitar Hero-style A-B performance comparison between Qualcomm’s four-core Snapdragon and an unnamed eight-core competitor. Obviously, the comparison is just slightly north of ‘meaningless’, since Qualcomm appears reluctant to name its eight-core example foe in the video.
In any case, it probably doesn’t matter since Qualcomm is pushing quad-core CPUs as the answer to all mobile computing woes.
On a slightly serious note, there is a good question over core count vs battery life that isn’t being addressed, at least publicly. Unless power management in eight-core CPUs is straight from the top drawer, those extra cores could simply drain the battery, particularly if Qualcomm’s claims are true that most software really only runs two cores with any remainder drifting along for the ride. Chip designer ARM has sort-of addressed some of these power vs performance issues with its big.LITTLE architecture design built around the Cortex A15 and Cortex A7 cores. Here, the Cortex A15 half does the heavy lifting while the Cortex A7 cores handle low-CPU-demand background tasks that keeps things just ticking over.
But ultimately, it’s up to the CPU makers to determine how those cores are implemented – whether its ‘four-on/four-off’ as with Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa or ‘all-on’ as in the latest MediaTek MT6592 eight-core option.
You didn’t realise just how fired up CPU makers can get, did you?
Check out the Qualcomm YouTube video at the jump.
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