Samsung brews half-asleep OCTO CORE phone brain MONSTER
Set to burst upon a terrified world late in 2013
Samsung will tear the wraps off an eight-core ARM processor in February although half of the chip will spend most of its life asleep.
The architecture is called big.Little, which ARM presented in October last year. Four cores run software all the time if they can, and the other four are only powered up when the user launches a 3D game, starts editing video, or does something equally processor hungry.
The big.Little concept uses two quad-core blocks: one is a Cortex-A7 design, and is used for normal operations. The other is a Cortex-A15 block, which is ramped up when needed and turned off when it's not - primarily to extend battery life between charges.
Samsung will show off the system-on-a-chip in February, according to EE Times.
The pair of 32-bit quad-core blocks will be squeezed onto a single 28nm-process die. The A7 quad-core block runs at 1.2GHz, which is fast enough to take care of the basic functionality. The A15 side will run at 1.8GHz for bigger jobs and have a 2MB level-two cache. The complete package is likely to rear its head at the International Sold-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in February and appear in devices in late-2013.
The South Korean chip maker wants to expand its operations in silicon, and won't be making processors for Apple forever. The A6 used in the iPhone 5 is fabricated by Samsung, but with such animosity between the two companies, Apple is expected to end that relationship as soon as it can.
Samsung is also developing its own radio electronics for its latest Galaxy smartphones to boot out rival Qualcomm's silicon. Market analyst biz ABI Research dismantled a Galaxy S III from South Korea and discovered that the handset lacks the Qualcomm components common to the rest of the range. By taking apart the SHV-E210s, as the country's variant is known, ABI found a Samsung chip handling LTE, HSPA and GPRS connectivity, where previously Sammy had only provided LTE hardware.
Intel isn't planning anything exciting at next year's ISSCC, but will talk about its new 1Tb/sec scalable inter-chip bus. ®
According to the specs of a few months ago it can switch between A7 & A15 in some 20 ms, it can also run both at the same time. It seems to brilliant way of getting low power & high performance out of the same kit.
I wonder how long before Intel comes out with a big.Little equivalent - if it can tread around the patents that ARM presumably has.
"If you want your device to be more responsible how about writing more of the code in C++ and stop using virtual machines with garbage collection (that tends to kick in at the wrong moment)."
If I was looking at making a device more responsible, I'd make sure it was home early and didn't spend all it's money on tobacco, gambling. hard liquor and loose women.
Yes it is inefficient, that's the point. The number of transistors that can be thrown at a problem is limited only by their power consumption and/or heat production.
The A15 is a modern out-of-order speculative execution CPU with deep pipelines for fast clock speeds. Those out-of-order speculative instruction decode transistors are on all the time, unlike other units of the CPU like floating point, vector math, encryption that can be turned off when not used. So yes the A15 draws more power than the current A9. But not double the draw, for a certain task the a15 may be able to wake up, complete the task and sleep quicker than the a9 saving power. Ie twice the performence maybe 1.5 times the power draw.
The a7 is a remarkable core, performance is almost as good as current a9, but using less power and taking up less silicon area. Those 4 A7 cores take of the real-estate of one a15 core.
So with transistors to burn, why not add the a7 cores, if that's all you need to use 90% of the time?
It's a good thing that everyone who uses C++ to write code for WP8 devices is sufficiently well disciplined in using its manual memory allocation/deallocation that they never have a memory leak. Otherwise the phone might randomly reboot due to some hard to identify background process(es).
This is real innovation.