MediaTek Announces True Octa-Core Processor, are Octa-Cores Actually Usefull?

July 28, 2013 - Written By Benjamin Commet

Android hardware manufacturers have long suffered from an obsessive focus on specs. Battles rage over processor cores, clock rates, megapixels, resolution, etc. Basically if you can throw a spec number down on a sheet of paper someone has tried to market it. These rapidly increasing numbers may seem to be innovative. However, these higher specs don’t necessarily mean a better real world experience.

MediaTek’s new processor is a “true” octa-(or octo depending on your preference) core. It has 8 separate A7 cores and is capable of using all 8 simultaneously. The Taiwanese chip manufacturer’s processor will be the first of its kind if they can manage to push it out before Samsung’s highly anticipated new line of octa-cores.

Samsung’s exynos 5 octa currently found in some European and Asian market S4 variants has been criticized for not being a “true” octa-core. It uses ARM’s big.little architecture to switch between its four A15 and four A7 chips depending on the processing pull required at any given time.

The Exynos 5 was designed in an attempt to improve battery life. The big.little design is an innovative concept that should’ve delivered the prized combination of a phone with incredible performance an acceptable battery life. Unfortunately Samsung didn’t exactly do a stellar job of coding Android and Touchwiz to work with the beast and the resultant S-lag and decreased battery life has left a poor taste in many mouths.

Because of this failure companies appear to be content with continuing to listen to the frenzied cries of, “Moar Cores.” This is where companies like MediaTek come in. The small chip-maker has had moderate success making processors for phone-makers like GooPhone, the infamous copier of IOS and Android devices alike. MediaTek yearns to get into bigger and more profitable markets. An octa-core processor made on the cheap might be enough to get them there.

What I would really like to know is whether octa-cores really bring anything to the table. Just about the only apps that truly take advantage of all 8 cores are benchmark apps like Antutu. While those insanely high scores may be fun to brag about to your friends, they give little real information about performance. You can have the best processor in the world, but if you have a poorly optimized OS you will still have lag. Even worse, because high end processors draw more power You’ll constantly be tethering yourself to a power brick just to keep it running. What do you guys think? Are octa-core processors pointless until we have software that makes good use of them, and batteries that can power them? Or will they really give the massive performance increases we all crave? Let us know in the comments down below and go join the conversation over on Google + and Facebook!