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Touchless Voice Control

Debunking some Motorola X8 Myths


Motorola’s latest crop of smartphones, the Verizon Droid Ultra Droid Maxx and Droid Mini, all feature what the company calls X8 technology.

X8 is not an eight core processor

The Motorola X8 chipset is not an Octa-core, or right core processor. Rather, it is composed of the following components:

  • Two processor cores, in the form of a pair of Qualcomm 300 Krait’s
  • One Texas Instruments MSP 430 controller
  • One Texas Instruments C55x family DSP
  • The Adreno 320 graphics processor

If we follow Motorola’s system of counting, a dual core Apple iPhone 5, would actually have four cores, and the quad core Tegra 3-equipped HTC One X would have all of seventeen cores.

X8 does not make a device more power efficient

The traditional smartphone tasks are done by the pair of Qualcomm 300 Krait’s and Adreno 320 graphics. Whether you are making a call, browsing the web, playing video or the phone is passively waiting for calls, listening for push notifications or updating apps in the background, it does all this like any other phone.

If you compare the Moto X to a phone that runs on similar hardware, like the Sony Xperia SP, the Moto X actually has a substantially shorter endurance rating time of 39 hours, versus 51 hours for the Sony Xperia SP. Turning off Active Notifications and Touchless Controls brings up the Moto X to 44 hours. This is not a great figure with the HTC One being rated at 48 hours, the Apple iPhone 5 at 51 hours and the Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4 at 69 hours.

These endurance tests are on WiFi, so if you activate your HDPA or LTE radio, you can expect these endurance times to be halved.

X8 does make a device more power-efficient when using the Active Notifications and Touchless Control

The two Texas Instruments processors in the Moto X are designed to allow two functions to operate while the phone is on sleep mode, without having to use the pair of Qualcomm 300 Krait’s. The MSP 430 controller is used for Active Display, while the C55x family DSP is used to listen and accept or reject sounds and decide whether to activate Google Now.

These two do the task fairly efficiently. If you just activate touchless voice control technology on other devices, with an app like Open Mic+ for Google Now, you can expect battery drain while on standby to be two to three times higher than normal. I was planning to do some battery life tests, but the effect is so dramatic, it does not seem necessary. Basically, with Open Mic+ running, listening for voice commands, it is like your phone is awake nearly the entire time.

Here is a screenshot of CPU behavior on a Android device with Open Mic+ running on for 10 minutes after the device boots and with the screen off:


Here is a screenshot of CPU behavior on the same Android device running in the same conditions with Open Mic+ disabled:


Since the device spends its time updating data after boot, the longer you run the test, the greater the disparity will get. The one thing you should look at is that Open Mic+ prevents the device from going into the power efficient Deep Sleep mode.

This test was done with an older Android device running on a single core Samsung Hummingbird processor. Open Mic+ can probably be optimized to use the newer screen-off power saving technologies on Nvidia’s Tegra chipsets and Qualcomm’s S800.

In sum, Motorola’s X8 technology is power-efficient in the context of Active Notifications and Touchless Control. If you do not use these two features, it actually looks to be less power-efficient than other smartphones.