Quad-core chips for mobile devices? Not good enough. At the International Consumer Electronics Show under way in Las Vegas, Samsung has announced an eight-core processor that is designed to conserve battery life.
The processor, the Exynos 5 Octa, is actually two quad-core processors mounted in a single package. Four are high-performance cores for processing-intensive tasks like gaming, and the other, less-powerful four are intended for lesser tasks, like checking e-mail. Samsung calls this chip design of powerful with less powerful processors its big.Little architecture, and said that the new processor offers twice the performance of the Exynos 4 Quad, its older sibling.
The powerful chips are Cortex-A15 cores, and the lower-power ones are Cortex A7s. The Exynos 5 Octa, the company said, uses 70 percent less power compared with current Samsung chips.
Qualcomm New Line
The announcement was made in the keynote address by Stephen Woo, president of the Samsung's components business.
What can someone do with all that power in a smartphone? Woo offered one example. If the smartphone owner is hungry and looking for a restaurant, the device can load the Web page for a given establishment, download the reservation app, and immediately geo-reference the user by retrieving the GPS location, all essentially at the same time. The processor's performance could also, for instance, allow for smooth HD video playback or efficient multi-tasking.
The new processor line escalates the power competition for mobile devices. On Tuesday, Qualcomm announced a new family of processors, the Snapdragon 800 series, which will begin appearing in high-end smartphones and tablets in the second half of this year. The company said the new processors will provide a performance boost over Qualcomm's current Snapdragon S4 chips by as much as 75 percent.
Additionally, since the 800 series chips will be made using the 28-nanometer process, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs said they would consume half the power required by the previous processors.
Nvidia's Tegra 4
Nvidia also unveiled this week its Tegra 4, featuring 72 GPU cores, four A15 CPU cores, and the ability to work with 4G LTE. At its announcement, Nvidia ran and won a Web page loading test against the Google Nexus 10 tablet, the iPad 4, the Droid DNA and the Kindle Fire HD. The Tegra 4 ran in an unnamed tablet, and loaded about twice as fast as the second place finisher, the Nexus 10.
In addition to the quad-core announcement, Woo's address included a surprise appearance by former President Bill Clinton. Among other roles, Clinton is the brand ambassador for the Samsung Hope for Children program, which provides educational resources to 2.5 million children. The ex-President talked about the role of technology in addressing the world's problems.
He noted that, when he was president, "the average cellphone weighed 5 pounds," and that, at his second Inauguration, there were a total of 50 Web sites.