Smartphone makers to embrace multi-core chips
Nvidia will have two- and four-core jobs for them
By the end of the 2011, 15 per cent of us will be using smartphones with multi-core processors.
So says market watcher Strategy Analytics, which also reckons 45 per cent of the über-handsets will contain two or more processing cores come 2015.
Right now, you can't buy a multi-core smartphone. LG will release what is expected to be first, the Optimus 2x, running Android, over the coming months. It's already on sale in Korea, and is due over here in March.
The 2x is built around Nvidia's dual-core Tegra 2 processor, and the graphics chip company has certainly been making the most noise about its multi-core offerings. That said Strategy Analytics reckons Samsung and Qualcomm will ship more multi-core phone chips this year than Nvidia will, though it will come above ST-Ericsson and Texas Instruments.
Nvidia's Tegra roadmap has leaked, incidentally - you can view it here at Bright Side of News - showing "the world's first mobile 3D processor" shipping this spring, the Tegra 2 3D, followed in the autumn by sample quantities of the quad-core Tegra 3.
The Tegra 2 3D's ARM Cortex A9 cores will run at speeds of up to 1.2GHz, while the Tegra 3's A9s will be clocked at a peak of 1.5GHz. Nvidia claims the Tegra 3 can handle Blu-ray video content with ease and power a 1920 x 1200 display. Its graphics will be "3x faster" than the Tegra 2. ®
Re: Doesn't the OS use the cores?
Cameron Colley: Depends what you mean by "use". Yes, obviously it can use multiple cores, but you only get full benefit in some circumstances. Take a look at Task Manager - how often is your CPU power stuck at 50%? If you had a single core cpu twice as fast, rather than two cores, you'd get 100%.
"my own PC never struggles doing more than one thing at once but my netbook, using hte same OS, is noticeably slower when "basckground processing" is going on."
Your PC - even just one single core - is likely far more powerful than your netbook, so that's not a fair comparison.
Operating systems can happily run multiple threads/applications on a single core. Now yes, there is a practical benefit of multiple cores, in that you can have an application hogging the CPU, but you've still got another core free. But there's no reason why the OS couldn't manage single core systems in the same way, by limiting threads to only 50% CPU. And if your response to that is to say it'd be stupid to limit available CPU power to 50% - yes, that's the point I'm making about why multiple cores isn't better than the increasing CPU speeds we've had for decades as standard.
Anonymous Coward: "Ready for when phones can print and then also do something else at the same time?"
You don't need multiple cores just to do more than one thing at once!
My Amiga was happily multitasking in 1985 on a single core 7MHz CPU. My Symbian phone happily multitasks today with one core - as do all smartphones (unless you have a crappy IPhone, of course - but then, you won't get multitasking on that even if it did have multiple cores).
a fallacy ?
The fact that it is now virtually impossible to double the speed of a CPU has what impact on your argument ?
Not to mention the fact that multi-core systems are almost always benchmarking better than single-core systems in all user tasks, and in any mult-core enabled game or application ?
Are you the kind of person who dissed the 486DX line because the CPU was no longer synchronized with the bus ?
HOW many of us?
Either El Reg or Strategy Analytics needs to do a little clarification here...
Will 15% of smartphones contain multicore processors by end 2011?
Will 15% of the world population be using smartphones with multicore processors by end 2011?
Will 15% of Reg readers be using smartphones with multicore processors by end 2011?
Will 15% of new smartphones sold contain multicore processors by end 2011?
Will 15% of the smartphone models on the market contain multicore processors by end 2011?
The numbers involved in the different cases are pretty dramatically different...
A number of points I had to correct or comment on.
Nobody forces you to share your contacts with Google, it's an option you can easily disable in the settings if you look in the sync settings area, don't make it out to be locked and forced. Fragmentation isn't an issue for Apple because only they can ship the iPhone so keeping it up to date and keeping older phones updated is in their interests. The more phones running their latest iOS the more likely they are to use the app store and the more revenue they make from it.
Other companies on Android, such as Motorola, have far less incentive to maintain updates on older hardware and that's a greed issue, not a hardware issue. They like to spew out new phones and abandon the old ones yet still expect you to buy their phones. A perfect example of this is the Milestone XT something or other, no future updates as far as I've read and it's barely six months old.
How do you stop fragmentation when it's motivated by greed? The best option I can see is to make it a condition of using Android that the handset manufacturers have to provide at least the next two updates within a six month period of their release. The more workable option is to give people the option to pay for updates, giving the greedy companies an incentive.
Dual core doesn't mean good!
It's a fallacy that multicores are better. Well, obviously twice as many cores is better than nothing, but the point is that CPUs have always got faster with time, and having a CPU twice as fast is still better than two cores of equal speed. There's a fallacy, even among some geeks who should know better, than switching to multicores is some new breakthrough that's better than the improvements in speeds we've had for years before (including in phones).
Increasing the number of cores is a strategy that CPU makers have had to resort to, when they are unable to increase the speed of an individual cores. It passes the buck to software developers to try to convert that to real extra performance - and as anyone who's seen their quad core machine rarely go above 25% will know, we're a long way from being able to do that effectively.
Are even 15% of netbooks selling with dual cores? (There is a dual core Atom now, but only some higher end netbooks ship with it.)
Hans 1: If you're talking about old versions of Android versus IOS, it's funny to watch that argument as if no other platforms existed. Most people out there are running Symbian - older versions of IOS lacked basic features like multitasking and copy/paste, and shouldn't even be counted as a smartphone OS (unless you define it so broadly to include all feature phones too).