Intel: Android not ready for multi-core CPUs

Intel: Android not ready for multi-core CPUs

Summary: The problem is that more cores need more power, and more power means more heat generated.

TOPICS: Android

According to chip giant Intel, not enough is being done to optimize the Android operating system for multi-core CPUs.

Intel, which is entering the market with its single-core Medfield Atom processors, hits out against ARM and its dual-core and quad-core by claiming that the company needs to do much more to optimize Android to handle multiple cores. In fact, Mike Bell, general manager of Intel's mobile and communications group, goes as far as to claim that multiple cores may in fact be a disadvantage.

"If you are in a non-power constrained case, I think multiple cores make a lot of sense because you can run the cores full out, you can actually heavily load them and/or if the operating system has a good thread scheduler," says Bell. "A lot of stuff we are dealing with, thread scheduling and thread affinity, isn't there yet and on top of that, largely when the operating system goes to do a single task, a lot of other stuff stops. So as we move to multiple cores, we're actually putting a lot of investment into software to fix the scheduler and fix the threading so if we do multi-core products it actually takes advantage of it."

The problem is that more cores need more power, and more power means more heat generated.

"I've taken a look at the multiple core implementations in the market, and frankly, in a thermal and/or power constrained environment - what has been implemented - it isn't obvious to me you really get the advantage for the size and the cost of what's going into that part," said Bell.

Currently there's no multi-core Atom processor on Intel's roadmap, but it's likely that there's one on the horizon given the marketing advantage that multi-core silicon has over single-core. While there may not be an advantage to having a multi-core processor inside android devices, dual- and quad-core processors look better on the spec sheet.

Image source: Intel.


Topic: Android

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • where's the critical eye?

    This article was a content-free regurgitation of Intel marketing FUD. How much did they pay for this fluff piece?
    • It's Hard to Argue

      It's hard to argue with that. If Intel really has a point or not we have no way of knowing. What we do know is that they currently have a vested interest in saying that multicore mobile SoC's aren't of any benefit with Android.

      It could be that Android isn't optimized for [i]Intel[/i] multicore chips, and their goal is to get it to be so before they release one. On the other hand, it could be that Android isn't ready for multicore chips as long as Intel doesn't have a competitive one, and that Android will magically be ready as soon as they release one.

      It's possible that optimization for multiple cores has not really been done with Android because it works well enough on the SoC's available, even though it could be better. However, this press release by Intel doesn't actually prove this to be the case, and they have a significant motive to mislead us.
      • It could be many things. If we assume that Intel is not ...

        ... outright lying to us (I doubt that they are), there are still too many variables to know for sure exactly how well optimized Android might be. Optimization is tied not only to well-written code but also to well-written compilers.

        Remember that Android is open source - and there is little incentive for Google Developers (let alone anyone else) to invest a lot of time in optimization as long as the expectations of the ARM devices is low compared to the expectations of Intel x86 & x64 processors.
        M Wagner
      • Is this what we have come too????

        A guy from Intel makes a perfectly legitimate point, it makes sense right on the face of it that more cores need more power, more power makes more heat and that Android may very well not be well optimized to make the kind of use out of multiple cores to justfy the cost and heat wear and tear.

        If we dont like the implications of that we just say hes probably lying??

        Hes probably lying because Intel has a vested interest in single core Atoms??

        Isnt there a soul or two out there in the world of IT that would know if this is not just a self serving lie?? Someone? Anyone??

        I am absolutly sure that there would be. I have know doubt there would be. For starters I have got to beleive that someone in Android developement would know if this was just a blatant self serving lie on the part of Intel. And it would be in Androids favor to have someone step up and say "Now wait a minute! We have optimized Android quite well for multi core performance! Here is how we did it and here is why more cores is great for Android!"

        Intel would have to have a screw loose to come out with a statement like that if there wasnt a great deal of truth to it. The risk of being exposed as a self serving liar is way way to easy in this case. There are very likely many people from many areas who could confirm or deny such issues and it would render Intel looking like a company that didnt know squat about the very software they are developing chips for.

        Count on the simple fact that Intel would have said diddly squat as opposed to coming out with a tale that could be easily exposed as a lie.

        Is this really what its coming too around here???

        Someone says something with a negative connotation about some product you like and you jump to calling them a probable liar without even thinking through the real likelyhood of that? In this case its very very very unlikely that Intel would tell such a bare faced lie that would likely have many people in the know quickly debunk it. How about ARM? Surely they will have something to say if this is all just a lie?

        Think things through before you speak next time.

        Accept the fact that companies are very often ready to sell you 2, 4 or more cores if you want to purchase them, even if you dont need them or cannot even use them. Very seldom will a company tell a barefaced lie without a very powerful reason, like saving them from hundreds of millions in imminent losses for example, and pretty much never when they know they are going to quickly get caught in it.

        Common sense.
      • Pure Tabloid Ragamuffin FUD From "Inquirer" Within!!!

        Absolute Truth!!!

        Last year Android got back on the good side of GNU Linux enough to incorporate newest Linux Kernel 2.6 with CFS (Completely Fair Scheduler) 0(1) Schedular that was better for integration of Multicore's, when Dual Core ARM SoC's were launched on at least some Android Devices!

        But the Riff Raff at Inquirer pulled this interview out of their arse over a year after Android's Linux kernel was updated to the CFS kernel, obviously. Because not only can Android handle SMP and AMP Core processors, but multiple possessors on multiple machines. Just like it's Big Brother Linux Distros/Forks that power the Greatest Super Computers on the Planet!!!

        Here's the rub for Intel on this though; there are literally dozens of custom Linux kernels with a variety of Task Schedulers available for your particular Android device, to take advantage of the hardware and your desired features. Whereas with both Apple's iOS and Microsoft's WP7 you have NO CHOICES, but the one Apple puts in it. So in REALITY Linux and by extension Android have an incredible advantage of again offering Greatest Choices and Customization that Bit*h Slaps every other Proprietary OS up side it's Single Choice Task Scheduler Head!

        A very short list: OC (overclocked), UV (UnderVolted), CFS (Completely Fair Scheduler), BFS (Brain F-k Scheduler), HAVS (Hybird Adaptive Voltage Scaling), & SBC (Superior Battery Charge), etc and on and on w/ some designed specifically for Multicores!
        And that again brings Android and Linux across the Finish Line for the WIN! .....and Consider this; Samsung GSIII scored over twice the score of iPhone 4s Dual Core on a universal benchmarking test utilizing all four cores of it's Exynos 4x4 CPU/GPU SoC in splendid graphical color! .....How can that be considered poor Task Scheduling ever?
    • can you say pay for play

      and if they did not pay for it. then are there copy rights involed.hahaha
  • agree, this is wintel FUD!

    android is the leader and the lame competitors are spreading FUD!
    The Linux Geek
    • Are we going by the poor idea

      that market share actually equates to quality?
      Michael Alan Goff
      • No,

        We will just assume that the guy with the most Money cares about you and that's why he wants you to have the best stuff on the Block!

        I got news for you man, in terms of features, MS and Apple are still chasing Android... In terms of Quality Mobile Apps, Google is still leading the three as well... Crud, MS copies Android and Linux now more than the Copy Apple. There is plenty of evidence than many features of Windows in recent years appeared in KDE and Gnome first.
      • Huh?

        So now we're saying that more features is equal to quality?
        Michael Alan Goff
    • Wintel FUD

      Totally agree
  • Everyone knows Android is crap..

    that why it's free.
    • Errors are Free, too.

      oraman: You just proved you haven't a clue. For free.
    • So is...

      ...the air you breathe.
    • The reason it is free... that Google can make money (Lots of money!) from advertising on the android platform. If it wasn't any good, no one would want to use it, and there would be no ad revenue.

      If you want to bash Android, bash the ads and privacy intrusions. You would at least have a half decent chance of holding up your end of the conversation.

      (Ignorant troll doesn't even know how to troll right! Sheesh!)
  • Intel, The Master Of FUD

    More cores would mean more power--if we were talking about x86 chips. ARM uses multicore to spread the load, so that it can power down idle cores.

    The fact is, Intel is being left behind by ARM in the mobile space. Its higher performance comes at the expense of battery life and price. Its ability to run Windows means nothing. An architecture coming from essentially one supplier cannot compete with a whole gaggle of chips from several dozen different suppliers. Intel is the niche player being outgunned by the mass market here, whether it realizes it or not.
    • Intel, Master of FUD

      Intel got locked out of Android and now Win 8 supports ARM. Intel feels threatened so they will invent FUD to feel comfortabe with itself.
      They hype their x86 chips and try to outmanover AMD by over producing chips with the slightest percentage of performance, thereby flooding the market and making it seem any effort by any chipmaker is worthless. Kudos to ARM and AMD for providing value and performance, You do not need "Intel inside" to have a great machine.
  • They're wrong

    You need multiple cores to run Android (well), it's a fact.
    Michael Alan Goff
    • Yeah right

      That's a crock! Some single core phones are slated to get Android ICS this year.
      • And that means they'll run well?

        Being released with ICS means they'll be great?
        Michael Alan Goff