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Intel Says Multi-Core Android Processors Flawed and Ineffective

Intel is the most respected name when it comes to microprocessors – almost everyone at one time or another has used a computer using Intl’s microprocessors.  Although the company has dominated the desktop and laptop niche, it is yet to establish itself in the mobile market.  The giant is not sleeping though, it is certainly trying to win over smartphone and tablet manufacturers with the latest move being the announcement that the best processor for upcoming mobile devices is the Medfield Atom processor.  It seems their tactic is to criticize what competition has on offer.

According to The Inquirer, comments made by Mike Bell, the General Manager of Intel – Mobile and Communication Group, Android devices barely make the most of their quad- or dual-core processors because chipmakers have failed to adapt the multi-core technology to properly fit the needs of Android devices.  Mike was talking about the efficiency of multiple-core processors that the current Android Devices have.  He thinks that some devices which he did not name could perform a lot better when using a single-core processor for various tasks than presently where they have more than one core running them.

“If you take a look a lot of handsets on the market, when you turn on the second core or having the second core there [on die], the [current] leakage is high enough and their power threshold is low enough because of the size of the case, that it isn’t entirely clear you get much of a benefit to turning the second core on. We ran our own numbers and [in] some of the use cases we’ve seen, having a second core is actually a detriment, because of the way some of the people have not implemented their thread scheduling.”

You could say that Intel is criticizing its competition to highlight the benefits of its Medfield processor and justify the fact that it currently has no multi-core processors for tablets and smartphones.  But then, we have to remember that if any company knows processors inside-out, it has to be Intel.  I am tempted to agree that some applications and devices would probably perform better with a single-core processor than the current multi-core processors especially when it comes to battery performance.

As of now, there are only three Android devices that have been announced to have the Medfield processor – the Lenovo K800, the Lava Xolo X900 and the Orange San Diego (Santa Clara).

In other news, Motorola and Intel announced a multi-device multi-year partnership during the CES 2012.  We therefore expect to see more Motorola (Google) Android devices with Atom chips soon.

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  1. “But then, we have to remember that if any company knows processors inside-out, it has to be Intel.”

    Is that the Intel on the high end who was forced to adopt its competition’s 64-bit architecture because its own was a total failure, or the Intel on the low end who has yet to have one of its CPUs used in a mass-market smartphone because of their enormous die size and heat output required to reach current levels of ARM performance?

    Intel’s had over 10 years to come up with a mobile processor and the best they could do was the Atom for underpowered netbooks. Now they’re showing a box that’s still about twice the volume of a Roku but runs at almost 200 degrees, and that’s their big achievement in miniaturization. Their last, best hope is that x86 Windows 8 tablets take off in a big way, buying them a few more years to get it right in a smartphone form factor, since many of the Android apps and all of the iOS apps currently out there will not run on Intel without a special build. An Intel Android phone would be as useful as one of those Chinese MIPS-based knockoffs… a second-class citizen at best.

    Or they can just become another ARM manufacturer, but I’d bet you corporate pride takes them down the Nokia rabbit hole instead.

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