Qualcomm: Eight-core processors are 'dumb'

Qualcomm accuses chip rivals of not knowing what consumers want and accuses them of "throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks."
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
(Source: Qualcomm)

Eager not to enter into a 'core war' that dominated the PC CPU industry, a Qualcomm executive branded eight-core processors manufactured by rivals as "dumb."

Speaking during a Taiwanese media roundtable, Qualcomm senior vice president Anand Chandrasekher said that thinking only in terms of cores was "silly" and that it doesn't deliver what consumers need, and as result these octa-core monster processors are not going to be successful in the long run.

"You can't take eight lawnmower engines, put them together and now claim you have an eight-cylinder Ferrari," said Chandrasekher.

"It just doesn’t make sense."

Qualcomm, he said, would instead focus on delivering the best experience for users. This, he went on to say, starts by knowing what customer actually want.

"So, clearly, great modem experience, great battery life, fantastic multimedia experience – all of that put together in a beautiful package that they can go buy, because these are all fashion statements in addition to being utilitarian devices."

He went on to accuse rival – such as MediaTek, a company that has just come out with a new octa-core processor – of not being able to engineer a product that consumers wanted, and instead had resorted to "throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks."

"That’s a dumb way to do it, and I think our engineers aren’t dumb."

When asked directly if Qualcomm was planning on launching an octa-core part, Chandrasekher said that "we don’t do dumb things."

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 600 and Snapdragon 800 parts are all quad-cored.

While Qualcomm quite clearly doesn't think much of the current lineup of octa-core processors, they are clearly gaining traction within the market. OEMs Acer and Lenovo are both using MediaTek silicon, as is Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi.

Putting further pressure on Qualcomm, Samsung has also developed an octa-core processor for use in selected versions of the Samsung Galaxy S4, and last month the company unveiled an updated Exynos 5 Octa part.

It's inevitable that some players will get caught up in a mobile parts "core war." Years of PC marketing literature has conditioned consumers to believe that more cores equals more power. Not only is this inaccurate, but as we shift from the era of the PC to post-PC devices, more cores means more pressure on battery life, so there's certainly a balance that needs to be struck.

However, given the inevitable forward march of progress, I believe that Chandrasekher's comments should be taken as meaning that Qualcomm doesn't have any immediate plans to release octa-core parts, not that the company plans to shun them forever.

It's not a matter of if, but when.

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