Do mobile devices really need multi-core chips?
Today's mobile apps don't benefit from dual-core or quad-core processing power
Some of the latest mobile operating systems, such as Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango), aren't designed to support dual-core processors, analysts noted. At the same time, they said, most smartphone and tablet applications don't need and can't benefit from dual-core or quad-core processing power, except for some video and games.
Given that fact, Microsoft and its partner Nokia practically dismissed dual-core smartphones that are running Android and are built by various makers, including Samsung and HTC.
To emphasize the point, Microsoft set up a challenge at CES where Windows Phone Evangelist Ben Randolph bet $100 that his Windows Phone, an HTC Titan, would operate faster than any other smartphone in running apps, searching the Web and other functions.
From about 20 challengers, Randolph said he lost just once, against an iPhone 4S, in the time it took both phones to send a tweet. He paid the winner in cash.
Randolph and Greg Sullivan, a Windows Phone senior product manager, said the focus of Windows Phone is on how it works best with users, not on the phone's processing speed. Windows Phone 7.5's marketing slogan, in fact, is "Put People First."
"Dual-core is much less critical to a phone, and most new smartphone users can't tell what it does," Sullivan said in an interview. "Is there software to take advantage of it? That's the question."
Sullivan said it's inevitable that Windows Phone and other mobile operating systems will advance to dual-core processors in coming years, just as many more tablets will advance to quad-core processors. Bloggers and reviewers, including JR Raphael at Computerworld, said quad core did matter in the Asus Transformer Prime tablet, announced in November, because it provided better performance for simultaneously running multiple apps.
Still, Sullivan said dual-core and quad-core processors, so far, will primarily appeal to tech industry insiders and mobile device enthusiasts. "It's like the car hobby mentality of the guy who wants a dual overhead cam engine. But I'll argue that with a smartphone, users can't define what dual-core is."
On the other hand, some tablets that were introduced on the value of dual-core, like the BlackBerry PlayBook, do zip through applications and downloads, said ABI analyst Kevin Burden.
"Quad-core on a tablet is not important now, but the question is where the technology is going," Burden said. For all its other problems, the PlayBook is "snappy" in performance, he added.
The biggest drawback with faster processors on smartphones and tablets is going to be how quickly they drain battery power, something that's not entirely known on tablets such as a just-announced $249 7-in. tablet from Asustek, the Asus ME370T, that runs Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) using a quad-core Tegra 3 processor from Nvidia.
- Is the 'quantified self' movement just a fad?
- Elgan: Voice, gestures dominate CES
- Windows 8 on ARM: You can look but you can't touch
- Google's Marissa Mayer says more women needed in tech
- Hands on: Sony Xperia Ion smartphone
- New Ford Focus Electric comes with smartphone app
- Insecure Android a myth, Motorola exec says
- For $1000, a chance for tech glory in Vegas
- Buyers hang on for cheaper, faster Windows 8 ultrabooks
- CES: Coming soon, drones for home and office
- 3G/4G Digital Signage Guide Today, the widespread availability of 3G and 4G cellular or wireless broadband networks enables digital signage to be deployed virtually anywhere.
- Enterprises in Motion: In-Vehicle Networks In a world where traditional tethers to the central office have all but vanished, enterprises that operate vehicle fleets require constant and dependable...
- Uninterrupted Internet: Maximizing Revenue and Minimizing Business Risk with 3G/4G Failover Whether your businesses are connected to the Internet via T1/T3, or Cable, incorporating a mobile broadband backup solution adds uptime whenever there is...
- Trends in Pop-up Retail: Innovative Merchandising Driven by Flexible, Dependable Mobile Connectivity This paper outlines the challenges and obstacles to successful implementation, and discusses existing, rapid-deployment solutions for connecting pop-up locations with mission-critical retail applications...
- Don't Believe the Hype: Not All Containers are Created Equal Hear executives discuss the 3 C's of Secure Mobility-content, credentials, and configurations-and learn the inherent security risks to your organization of using MDM...
- Navigating the New Wireless Landscape Thriving in the new wireless landscape View Now>> All Mobile/Wireless White Papers | Webcasts