Samsung Exynos Processor Announcement CES 2013

The Octa-Core Explored: How it Will Affect Our Mobile Future

January 15, 2013 - Written By Briley Kenney

The technology industry is changing rapidly every day. It’s only a matter of time before all of the devices we own, and even the latest devices currently on store shelves are obsolete. The current lifecycle of a smartphone is way less than a year, which is ridiculous when you consider that contracts bind you to one phone for two years (if you follow the rules).

Take the Tegra 4 quad-core chipset, for example, which NVidia recently just unveiled at CES. NVidia is billing the chipset as the “world’s fastest mobile processor,” and yet it’s likely that something new, and more powerful, will replace it within a period of 6 months to a year from now.

The rate at which technology is advancing, is nothing short of mind-boggling, but that fact doesn’t slow anyone down.

Relatively speaking, it didn’t take long for manufacturers to shrink dual-cores down to a reasonable size and shove them into mobile devices. It took even less time to advance that technology and update dual-core processors to quad-core. Even so, we’re just starting to see a shift in the industry to quad-core processors for flagship devices. That’s why it’s particularly shocking news that soon, the market will see a device that is equipped with an eight-core processor.

The first mobile SoC utilizing an eight-core processor is Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa. It just had to be Samsung, right? Then again, is the fact that Samsung made the breakthrough actually all that surprising?

I’ll go ahead and answer that question for you. No, it’s not really surprising, at all.

I know damn well that you’re just as excited to hear about Octa-cores as I am, so we’ll get right to it. We’re going to talk about an Octa-core in general, and how it works. Then we’ll talk about some of the positives and negatives about an Octa equipped device. Last but not least, we’re going to talk about how this will affect you in the future, and your devices.

Varying Implementations of an Octa-Core Processor

Most people don’t realize that there are different ways to achieve a multi-core processor. This is the reason why some multi-core processors in mobile devices and computers are superior to others. This is mainly due to the fact that there are several different ways that manufacturers can go about producing a multiple core processor. Each method has its own benefits and weaknesses.

The first method is to build a true eight core processor. This is usually what most people think of when an “eight-core processor” is mentioned. It involves actually producing a processor that has eight total cores, with each core acting independently from one another. Essentially, the computer or device is optimized to spread the load between multiple cores thus making everything run smoother even when multiple applications or programs are open. Manufacturers probably won’t use this method when producing Octa-core processors for mobile devices.

The second method involves joining or merging two quad-core processors so that they work in tandem. This will essentially create a device that is utilizing eight cores, even if the main system is comprised of several processors. This method improves overall performance while still maintaining a relatively low power profile. Still, the issue with this method is that you don’t quite get as much of a performance boost as the traditional method. In most cases, the benefits outweigh the sacrifices, however. It’s likely that this method will be used in mobile devices later on in the future.

The final, and most suitable form, involves using various combinations of processors to make up the eight total cores. More commonly, manufacturers will unite a high-powered quad-core chipset with a dual-core or single core chipset. This helps balance the performance of the whole processor while increasing battery life. The main benefit of this method is usually better battery life and resource management. The real issue here is that this method is certainly not as powerful as the other methods listed above, so there can be a bit of a performance loss. That being said, the total performance is still greater than that of a device with a smaller processor (less cores).

Regardless of the method used by manufacturers, more total cores suggest a more effective device. The workload is split between the various cores, especially when running multiple applications and programs at once. Some processors perform better when they can focus on one application at a time while others can handle a massive workload. Generally, this is why tech-experts recommend that you to close applications and software in the background when playing hardware and graphic intensive games. Still, the more cores a processor has, the more likely the device will be able to handle running graphic intensive games.

Samsung Exynos 5 Dual Core Processor

Positives and Negatives of a More Powerful Processor

Perhaps the only negative, that will directly affect consumers, is the overall battery life. More cores and larger processors essentially mean an increase in power consumption. Of course, the mobile industry has made some remarkable strides in the right direction concerning battery life over the past year, but that will change with a larger processor. Manufacturers will need to perfect this new batch of processors, and that includes optimizing how they use energy. Long story short, we should expect to see less than nominal battery life in the upcoming Octa-core devices, when they do finally hit shelves.

The biggest benefit to having more cores is -you guessed it- better performance and more power. It stands to reason that with an Octa-core processor you’ll be able to play more realistic 3D games on mobile devices and tablets. You’ll also be able to run unhindered, desktop-optimized applications on a mobile device, or at least apps that are much closer to their PC counterpart. This includes advanced photo editing software, productivity apps, and more.

Samsung_Galaxy_Note_review_10-580-100

How an Octa-Core Device Will Affect You

Since I’ve already mentioned the games aspect above, I won’t bother restating that point. Just take my word for it that you’ll be able to play much prettier games. Dare I say console quality gaming on mobile devices and tablets?

The increase in power will also allow manufacturers to squeeze in higher resolution displays. More specifically, I’m talking about full 720p and 1080p HD displays. The higher resolution and pixel density requires more processing power to run smoothly, which is why we’re just now starting to see impressive HD displays in mobile devices.

Better multi-tasking support will also be offered with these new Octa-core processors. Because the processors divide the total workload, an increase in the total number of them essentially means better resource management. Of course, it’s entirely possible for manufacturers to botch the development, in which case consumers could potentially see an influx of bugs and performance issues. Hopefully we can trust these guys to get everything in order.

Since Samsung is at the forefront of the Octa-core market, I’m pretty confident that we’ll see outstanding performance gains without having to make ridiculous sacrifices in the future. Unfortunately, only time will determine how the new eight-core processors actually affect consumers.

I mean, in a general sense, battery life is already appalling in the mobile industry. I still don’t understand why they don’t just pack giant batteries in all of these devices to begin with (complete sarcasm).

What do you guys think? Have I made a fair assessment of the Octa-core situation? Do you disagree with anything I’ve said here? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Pocket Now