Intel manager gives Android poor grades on multi-core

Jun 11, 2012 by Nancy Owano weblog

( -- An Intel manager and engineer thinks anything more complex than single cores for smartphones are a waste. Mike Bell, general manager of Intel’s Mobile and Communications Group, said the dual-core and quad-core processors that are featured in many handsets are not necessary for performance. He also maintains that Android is not ready for multi-core processors, and that Android’s technology features do not yet make good use of dual core processors. His overall message clearly indicated that he believes having more than one core on smartphones may be a waste and that Android smartphone makers launched smartphones with dual core processors before the Android operating system was actually capable of supporting a second core.

His comments were expressed in an interview conducted last week with The Inquirer, in which he talked about disappointing findings as regards Android not making “as effective use of multiple cores as it could.”

Intel looked into the level of multiprocessing support in Android via internal testing and discovered deficiencies including poorly optimized thread schedulers and inefficient data structures. Bell said Intel data suggested Android's thread-scheduling is not up to handling multi-core processors. If an operating system poorly implements threading technology, then no gains are realized He said in some instances the multiple-core design was even detrimental to overall performance. He added that in internal testing of Android handsets, results showed that chips with multiple cores at times ran slower than single-core implementations.

Bell expressed these thoughts in the interview without citing any particular smartphone but said that "If you take a look a lot of handsets on the market, when you turn on the second core or having the second core there [on die], the [current] leakage is high enough and their power threshold is low enough because of the size of the case that it isn't entirely clear you get much of a benefit to turning the second core on.”

Bell also thinks that SoC vendors could be doing more to improve on Android’s optimization for multi-core processors.

The thought has not been lost on technology blogs reporting on Bell’s statement that Bell is with Intel and Intel’s rival is ARM. In many smartphones as well as tablets, is powered by ARM . Nonetheless, is not alone in making such statements. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop recently claimed that dual- and quad-core chips used in modern smartphones were a waste of battery. “You don’t need a quad-core phone unless you want to keep your hands warm in your pocket.”

Explore further: Kickstarter project SAM kit helps teach hardware system coding

Related Stories

AMD's Phenom II Takes On Intel's Core 2 Processors

Feb 09, 2009

( -- AMD has added two new Phenom II desktop chips to their product line. The Phenom II Dragon line desktop processors use AMD's new 45-nanometer technology and consists both of a triple-core (X3) ...

New Intel Server Processors: Fewer Watts, High Performance

Mar 25, 2008

Intel Corporation has further increased its energy-efficient performance lead today with the introduction of two low-voltage 45 nanometer processors for servers and workstations that run at 50 watts, or just 12.5 watts per ...

Intel Launches New Quad-Core Server Processors

Aug 13, 2007

Today Intel Corp. launched two quad-core Intel Xeon processors. The new processors boast unprecedented combinations of performance and energy efficiency, along with a pricing strategy to move the enterprise industry to multi-core ...

Recommended for you

Analyzing gold and steel – rapidly and precisely

31 minutes ago

Optical emission spectrometers are widely used in the steel industry but the instruments currently employed are relatively large and bulky. A novel sensor makes it possible to significantly reduce their size ...

More efficient transformer materials

51 minutes ago

Almost every electronic device contains a transformer. An important material used in their construction is electrical steel. Researchers have found a way to improve the performance of electrical steel and ...

Sensor network tracks down illegal bomb-making

1 hour ago

Terrorists can manufacture bombs with relative ease, few aids and easily accessible materials such as synthetic fertilizer. Not always do security forces succeed in preventing the attacks and tracking down ...

DARPA technology identifies counterfeit microelectronics

1 hour ago

Advanced software and equipment to aid in the fight against counterfeit microelectronics in U.S. weapons and cybersecurity systems has been transitioned to military partners under DARPA's Integrity and Reliability ...

User comments : 5

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (1) Jun 11, 2012
Sour Grapes, perhaps? Time will tell.
5 / 5 (1) Jun 12, 2012
Doesn't bother me tbh.
Had my Galaxy S2 almost a year now and still am yet to see a single application push it beyond it's computational limits or cause any slow down.
5 / 5 (1) Jun 12, 2012
Two identical cores, quite likely. However, if the performance of the two cores is very different the payoff can be large. Combining a small, slow, low-power core with a fast, powerful core that is off most of the time can greatly extend battery life. Texting, voice and standby operations require very little processing.
0.7 / 5 (23) Jun 12, 2012
"me from Intel condemn ARM"

1 / 5 (1) Jun 12, 2012
Contrary to some posts here this is not a condemnation of ARM et al, even Intel is working on such cores. His comments are valid. Multiple core processors have been around for a while now and very few people actually know how to code for them. This includes OS and software design.

The comment from Nokia was a little embarrassing though. They can choose an OS or design one that can use the extra cores efficiently. At least then the OS can use the cores to maximum advantage.

Of course it still comes down to the software vendors who suck at it.