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Samsung’s Galaxy S4 first with 8-core SoC?

Just as the first quadcore devices hit stores for everyone, Samsung’s plans
leaked that the new Samsung Galaxy S4 could be one of the first mobile
devices equipped with an 8-core CPU. Natively we speak of two 4-core CPUs
as octocore SoCs are not yet available or designed to a working state.

Using clustring of the two quadcore SoCs, the new cell phones might fulfill two things at once: Being fast and also being very economic on battery runtime thru shutdown of non-used cores.

So why the hype about the new Exynos 5 SoC with 8 cores then if we speak of 2 4-core SoCs which are clustered?
Well, it is sort of impressive how much power can be combined in a rather small chip. To compensate with the enormous heat dissipation, a native Octocore SoC would generate, Samsung used a trick to do so. We pair 4 Cortex-A15 cores which are darn fast with four slower Cortex-A7 cores and still have the advantage that the combined SoC may not run hot. Clever move one yould consider. In fact, this move is clever as you could now move less CPU-consuming applications on the A7 cores and (if needed) run highly CPU-intensive Apps on the four A15 cores. This would save more energy than having all Apps run natively on A15 cores when they don’t have much to do anyways.

As today’s smartphones are already hellish fast, one might for sure ask, why do you need so much calculation power in a cell phone?

The iPhone 5 already has broken the 500 MIPS barrier, some other phones might be even faster.

Thinking back 10 years, first processors in desktops which have used lots more power were the first to break the 1 GIPS barrier. Impressive to have the power of a desktop computer in nothing more than a device intentionally used for calling and maybe writing SMS.

But with the future ongoing, people demanded more and more from their mobile companion. Entertainment thru games and video or music, writing eMails, the upcoming of social platforms, all these things made engineers of all mayor brands work on devices that include highly concentrated calculation power on small room.

My first cell phone was the Nokia 16110 as you can see it on the left of this text.

Not very talented compared to today’s smartphones but yet adequate to keep in touch with my friends. It fulfilled all major tasks with ease. These were doing calls and writing SMS. There were also some games to play on it but not something comparable on today’s smartphones.

So what are we talking about?

Remember the good ol’ Snakes game? Always on the rush to get a highscore that game was able to drag one’s attention for some time.

Writing E-Mails on that cell phone? Well, for sure not! Data plans did not exist and the rubbish GSM connection would have been too slow to receive E-Mails. When you remember those times, Internet speeded up to 768kbit/s down and 128kbit/s upstream with DSL. Quite adequate to send larger mails up to 1MB. GSM gould not deal with more then 40kbit/s downstream and (yawn) 8 kbit/s upstream were hardly possible and also pricing very high! So WAP has rarely being used despite the fact that black&white pictures were not too dazzling.

I once had a WAP site running myself (yeah, I am sort of an early-adopter in some things). The capabilities compared to a full-flavored homepage on a desktop were very limited but to get instant information it was sufficient. Used WAP later on with my 9500 Communicator!

Internet was also possible with the 9500 Communicator but at those speeds one might have fallen asleep!

So when we look back at today, lots of things have changed. Smartphones are now able to render even the most complex homepages (as long as they don’t contain any Flash/java stuff) and are even able to process embedded video.

All these things require a lot of power. CPU power to be direct. As SoCs not only fulfill the calculation but also render the graphics you see, SoCs might have been the precessor of today’s APUs, which come with an integrated GPU aswell.

AMD started it with their newer bulldozer CPUs and the LLano A-Series CPUs. Intel also equipped their Sandy-Bridge and Ivy-Bridge CPUs with such integrated GPUs.

However their power compared to a fully-grown GPU like NVidia’s 6xx GeForce or AMD’s 7xxx Radeon is rather mediocre to be smooth honest.

But back to our everyday companion:

When you watch videos on your cell phone, it seems common to you and most people expect this from even the cheapest handsets available on the market. the SoC market has evolved fast when we do a historical review on the last ten years when smartphones started to evolve fast. But what’s common to you today, was not common to the older generation (I consider myself of exactly this generation!). And we still had appreciated what cell phones made us do in the past.

So when you see a smartphone being able to render FullHD videos, think back and remember what cell phones were able to do 10 years ago. If they could render 320×240 videos without stuttering, they were considered “fast”!

And if you ask yourself what I am using now as a cell phone:

My iPhone 4 is still with me and fulfilling all tasks I wanna do. Social networking, in-time-blogging, taking pictures, listening to music, watching videos. Thinking of that device to have 2 years on it’s back now, it performs still well. Another gadget is already waiting to be evaluated by me and reviewed in detail: The Nokia Lumia 920.

Now you may ask, why I bought a Nokia Lumia 920, which runs Windows Phone 8 on it.

The answer is simple: The iPhone 5 did not bring that “WOW”-effect to me. And something new could also be good as Windows Phone 8 seems to be promising.

Even the shares of Nokia proved me right in my decision. They raised from an all-time low of a mere 2.38 US$ per share to 4.50 US$ per share.

So Nokia must have been doing a great job! Otherwise, the shares would have plummeted to death. And no, the Nokia Lumia 920 is a plain classic quadcore smartphone. but the power is sufficient for all tasks I do!

Expect a review from me soon on that little fella but bare with me as work is consuming lots of time.

Oh… and one more thing*: The future’s not our’s to tell. (I like this quote as it is so true)

Who knows what we will be using in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years?

*A quote, Steve Jobs often used at the end of his presentations of new gadgets!

January 10, 2013 Netspark - 1594 posts - Member since: May 9th, 2011 No Comments »

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