When the new Motorola Droid devices were leaked last week one thing caught the attention of people and that is the use of an X8 chip. While the company didn’t provide details as to what this chip is back then, they have already released some few bits of information on it right now in anticipation of the official announcement of the Moto X tomorrow.
According to Motorola the X8 isn’t a processor. It isn’t even a system on a chip. It’s actually a customized Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC with the addition of “contextual computing” and “natural language” processors. One of the processors can even function as a low-power CPU.
According to Iqbal Arshad, Motorola’s senior vice president of engineering, “If you look at the X8 mobile computing system, it has a cluster of processors and then some separate elements of the system.” The purpose of the design is to deviate from the normal CPU-based architecture to a more intelligent and probabilistic computing which can save power.
In terms of technical specifications the X8 chip is basically a 28nm 1.7GHz Qualcomm S4 Pro with various firmware customizations. Arshad added that “We’ve done additional optimizations on top of that such as optimizing the entire Linux user space to move it to an ARM instruction set, cache optimization, Dalvik just-in-time optimization, and we’ve changed the file system. It’s full hardware-software integration to deliver best-in-class performance.”
One thing that Motorola hasn’t provided information though is on the contextual computing processor and the natural language processor that’s included in the X8. What the company disclosed though is that both processors are not ARM based. Arshad said that “It’s done by Motorola, a lot of design in the entire system. The actual silicon is specified by us but we don’t go ahead and design and fab it. It’s not an ARM processor, it’s a very low-power separate processor.”
The contextual computing processor is responsible in making sure that the sensors, displays and touch interactions function properly. It also appears to serve as the primary processor when the device is on standby mode. The natural language processor ensures that audio, noise estimation and noise cancellation work properly.
The X8 technology is not limited to work on the Snapdragon as it is also designed to be compatible with other chips such as Tegra or Exynos. What this technology means to the end consumer is that it provides a longer battery life while providing better performance