How many cores do I need in a smartphone?

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Sep 12, 2013 3:07:17 PM

Soon Samsung will begin introducing devices with Heterogeneous Multi-Processing enabled (you should also soon be able to software upgrade the S4 and Note 3 to enable HMP), meaning you'll have the option to run all eight cores on the Xynos 5 octa-core chipset at once. Up until now only the four low-power or four high performance cores could be activated, but not all at once.

Apple has just announced the iPhone 5s will feature a 64-bit processor too, which Samsung will undoubtedly soon follow (64-bit is usually the realm of desktop computers, not smartphones). So the question is: how many cores does a smartphone need? And what does a 64-bit processor mean for smartphones?

— modified on Sep 18, 2013 8:24:31 PM

Sep 13, 2013 1:37:27 AM

Pretty impressive. That would solve a lot of general crash issues and freeze locks. Would make multitasking a lot easier and smoother too. To be honest, I never really thought of such a large bit set being used in smartphones in the near future. It would be very interesting to use a smartphone with that kind of processing power. Boy, if my tablet could get a boost like that..............................................

"You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here & So Am I" - FZ

Sep 13, 2013 11:42:13 PM

I don't know Kris, now that I had some time to think about it, wasn't there a reason why only some the cores out of a full set would run? I always thought that the other ones acted as a back up or only to perform certain tasks. I might be talking like I'm from the stone ages, but, I would think in the long run it would only cause complications like burning the whole unit out. Maybe I'm wrong.

"You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here & So Am I" - FZ

Sep 15, 2013 6:58:34 PM

Thank you for clearing that up Henrique. Actually, that is very interesting. It would be a dream to use Skype and video streaming with this setup. You probably won't end up with the jerking visual those things sometimes have. Would make it very streamline. Very useful.

"You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here & So Am I" - FZ

Sep 16, 2013 6:06:44 PM

The reason was really just to save the battery by running the low speed cores when the phone is doing mundane tasks such as checking email or making a phone call. AND then the Cortex A15 cores when busy with games or other high power requirements. so the issue now with all cores running would be wiping your battery out within a short time.

Sep 16, 2013 9:51:34 PM

Although this appears to be optional, depending on what you want do, that would concern to me as well. Lets say your streaming video. Well, that + applying this option would almost triple your battery usage. Even if you take all precautions to preserve battery life, having this would make those precautions redundant, so to speak. At least, that's how it would appear. I don't know how you would get around this.

"You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here & So Am I" - FZ

Sep 17, 2013 4:06:20 PM

The core count in a smartphone would basically match your need in a computer or laptop. Sure you don't actually need the extra power if you do not use it. But then again, you would have it if you need it. I am sure they will be setting it up with the processor only using what it needs. I wouldn't think they go backwards and turn on the processor to run at full power all the time. But when you want to Stream a movie or music, download and run game contents you will have the power to do so with a single touch. What I think they are doing is giving you the power to use all of it if you need it. If you are only opening a email its not going to draw from all 8 cores. Well at least I would hope not.

Sep 17, 2013 9:54:38 PM

I say anywhere between 2-4 cores is very sufficient. Especially after having the64-bit architecture.
Besides taking pictures, I only use my phone for calls and text so the 2-4 core setup is more then enough for me. I think of this in the respect of tablets. I've streamed movies before and had it all freeze up or get very unstable, lagging. I'm very routine when it comes to maintaining the system so it is definitely due to processing power. If I had the option have fullrocessing power when doing this, it would make all the difference.

"You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here & So Am I" - FZ

Sep 18, 2013 8:37:13 PM

Hey guys, great conversation! To add my two cents, Nicholas M is correct, the all-eight-cores activity would only be when the processing situation demands it, not just all the time! I expect you'd have time to say ''Wow! That was fast!'' and then go looking for a power outlet. The situation is nicely explained in this video from ARM.

As for the 64-bit question, it's a bit above my tech knowledge level, but Henrique is correct, 64-bit processors open up the potential of using more than 4 GB RAM but there's other considerations too. For starters, the 64-bit processor can read 64 bits (duh!) of data at a time, compared to a 32-bit processor's 32 bits. So, theoretically, the 64-bit processor can handle data at double the speed as a 32-bit processor, but my limited technical understanding includes the fact that this is task-specific and affected by various other considerations too (like available RAM), so it's not a simple case of mathematics. As far as I know.

In any case, true octa-core processing (when necessary) and 64-bit processors (sooner or later) are only going to improve our mobile experience!

— modified on Nov 7, 2013 11:44:23 AM

Nov 13, 2013 12:37:35 PM

well when it comes to cores, more the cores is more the speed of device but one demerit is also associated like if you have a dual core or or quad core devices then quad core device is likely to ran out of battery faster then dual core ones !!-_--_- But at the same time if i have quad core device i can experience gaming much better.:V:V

John Farrell Technical Consultant

Nov 13, 2013 12:46:50 PM

Exactly, the more cores firing the quicker the battery dies. The ARM video was interesting in the way they all light up at different times, all the time. So every process uses what it needs, and there's a processing power option for every task. I thought there'd just be a default setting and a hardcore setting and a superman setting (or something), but I really like how fine tuned the process is, so you're only ever using the amount of cores you actually need for what you're doing. If all that switching isn't a drain, then having a bunch of different power combinations could be brilliant for power usage at lower processing requirements.

Feb 19, 2014 1:49:00 PM

The hardware is only as good as the software that runs it and vice versa.
If the octa core enables faster processing then user experience will be good, coupled with well written and tested governors battery life could be very good, automatically throttling and disabling groups of cores depending on load.
Use a conservative governor get good battery use performance and rum all eight at max of course the battery will die fast.
Use a balanced governor and get balanced performance and battery.
Without the hardware capable of doing it though you can't do it, duh!
Also, some tasks take a certain amount of battery power, either a little for a long time or a lot for a short time, just get it done and switch to another task already with octa.
A lot of tasks you just won't do with a slow CPU.
Will 64 bit mean double the speed with only 30% more power consumption?

Feb 19, 2014 4:04:04 PM

As far as concern about the cores 'Samsung Note 3' have 'Octa Core' inside but still sometimes it lags I have so many complaint about this it is not about getting so many core in phones it is about applying 2 cores that perfect sync with software (OS) that can easily increased the optimization of smartphone and battery. That is why Apple iPhone's have only Dual Core processor still able to compare with any Samsung smart phone not an iOS lover. But got an opinion

Feb 21, 2014 9:23:13 AM

@Bilal Pabal look what does octa core means is having 8 cores built inside which means the device is going to perform faster, like you said sometimes problem is with the clocking frequency of the cores, when they don't match they tend to lag, but this doesn't means having octa cores is bad this is why you can see iPhone is lagging behind Android, in fact i am sure that some day iPhone will be kept in the museum. As this is Android only era..... :)

John Farrell Technical Consultant