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Sony exec: quad-core CPUs bad for today's phones

Chips are battery hogs, and apps don't need 'em

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Sony has said quad-core processors are not appropriate for smartphones - they're too great a drain on the battery, and apps just don't need them yet.

According to Sony Mobile executive Stephen Sneeden, the Japanese giant won't be putting quad-core chips into its handsets until next year.

”You’ll see in 2013, as we’re evaluating the quad-core performance where it makes sense, where you’re not suffering in quality and the performance truly is there, and there really is something that demanding applications need,” he told CNet.

"We’re going to join quad-core when we feel that the performance matches the battery efficiency. Because right now we don’t feel that [it] is there."

We're sure makers of phone processors with four or more cores, such as Nvidia, which is currently touting its Tegra 3, will disagree.

Then again, the four main cores in a Tegra 3 only kick in when an app calls on them - the rest of the time it's a low-power fifth core that's running the show, precisely so that the chip doesn't whack the battery.

You could argue that, if you only need a single core for 99 per cent of the time, why not stick with a one- or two-core CPU, and that's clearly what Sony reckons we should do.

Gamers may think different, and for them the extra horsepower is handy. But while Nvidia's Tegra website catalogues games that can make specific use of its chips, only 37 are listed, many of which work perfectly well on lesser CPUs.

Are phone companies, then, simply pitching quad-core as a marketing manoeuvre? Sony seems to think so.

"What we are going to be doing in the second-half of the year is moving to the Cortex A15 architecture, which we feel outperforms the current quad-core architecture," said Sneeden. ®

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