For the last couple of years in the mobile industry it’s all been about how many cores you can pile inside of the slimmest smartphone possible. Ever since the first dual-core smartphone launched in 2011 we’ve seen an incremental increase in processing cores, doubling to quad-core in 2012 and octa-core in 2013. Now it looks like many manufacturers haven’t seen the return they were looking for when it comes to octa-core phones, and are drawing back the number of phones with octa-cores inside of them, instead opting for quad-core models. This push mainly comes from Chinese Android vendors that product octa-core models in mid-range and budget phones rather than high-end ones, and are now replacing those octa-cores with cheaper quad-cores to make even cheaper mid-range and budget phones. Seeing as how this is one of the largest growth sectors in the market it makes a lot of sense for manufacturers to be focusing on those products, especially in countries like India and China where mid-range and entry-level phones are best sellers instead of the Galaxy S and HTC One lines found in the top of the charts of other countries.
Octa-core processors aren’t just cut-and-dry 8-core processors though, there are two different kinds. First there’s the kind that’s actually two different quad-core processors “slapped” inside one chip, giving the device it’s inside the ability to use one or the other for the best power management. This particular configuration is usually the one found in the mid to upper-mid-range phones as it provides one low-power quad-core processor and one high-performance quad-core to balance things out, so the system can use the low power one when not doing process-intensive tasks. Then there’s the “true” octa-core that features 8 full-speed cores working in congruence with one-another, much like Mediatek’s upcoming MT6592. Higher end models, like Samsung’s upcoming international version of the Galaxy S5, feature a top-tier octa-core that uses a hybrid technology called Heterogeneous Multi-Processing that actually uses the same dual-quad-core processors as found in the traditionally cheaper octa-cores, but allows the system to use any one of the 8 cores at any given time. This gives advantages of both types of octa-core in one package and should theoretically help the system use less power in every day tasks since it can alternate between any of the low-power and high-performance cores. Right now it looks like Mediatek isn’t ready to sell their new “true” octa-core processors at a lower cost, so until that changes we’re not likely to see market share increase until sometime in 2015.