by July 6, 2012 0 comments








With
Samsung releasing its new flagship model, the Galaxy S3, with
an
Exynos quad-core processor, the bar for hardware has once
again been
raised. From single-core to dual-core to quad-core, the
smartphone
market evolves within the blink of an eye. But what exactly do
multi-core CPUs do? And how will they affect your smartphone
experience?

Multi-core
CPUs driving the next wave of smartphones

A
core is simply a distinct processing unit within a CPU that
performs
computations and carries out machine instructions in a
computer. The
first wave of smartphones had a single core, which was more
than
sufficient to handle the applications in those days. However,
with
the burgeoning of CPU-intensive applications and
multi-tasking, it
has become imperative to improve the CPU in smartphones.

A
single CPU has something called a “clock speed”, which can be
pushed to a certain limit, and this will increase the
performance of
the phone. However, after a certain threshold, the core will
not be
able to perform further, and pushing up the clock speed will
also
increase power consumption. To solve this conundrum, phone
companies
decided to follow the example in desktop computing, by adding
more
cores that will facilitate computation. Think of this analogy:
if one
man has to pull three cars at the same time, he will have to
take a
huge physical toil to perform the task. However, if there were
two
other men to help him, they could split up the work and finish
it
with more ease. This is exactly the same scenario in the case
of a
single-core vs quad-core comparison.

In
the quad-core, four cores work in unison to perform separate
tasks
and complete them. In a single-core, the lonely core has to
carry the
whole load by itself.

For
example, many users multi-task on their phones nowadays;
watching a
video, listening to music and browsing the web all at the same
time.
When there are multiple cores in the phone, each core can
dedicate
itself to a certain task.

Core
A can process the video playback, while Core B can process the
music
while Core C can take care of the web browser activity. In
this way,
none of the cores are pushed to their limit. Because they only
perform at a fraction of their capacity, the overall power
consumption of the phone comes down as well.

Moreover,
the user does not need to worry about how the multi-core
system is
working. The OS itself designates work to the cores according
to many
factors that optimize performance and battery life.

Four-cores
sounds pretty cool, but what do I get off it?

A. A
multi-core CPU will deliver blazing performance when compared
with a
single-core CPU. Multiple applications will not tax the same
core,
but all processes running will be managed by the CPU expertly,
distributing work between all the cores available. For
example, if
you are watching a video and browsing the net, Core A will
take care
of the video and Core B will take care of the browsing, and
shifting
between the two applications will be split-second quick. The
drawback
is that many applications are still not optimized for using
multiple
cores. The hardware and software are doing a rabbit vs. turtle
race,
and developers still need to get used to optimizing apps for
multi-core.

B.
Don’t
you hate it when your smartphone runs out of juice after just
half a
day? Well, with multi-core systems, that may be less of a
problem. As
there are more cores sharing the load of work in processing,
the
cores are never worked their socks off, and so the power
consumed and
heat generated by the cores are lesser. For example, with the
quad-core processor running on the Galaxy S3, it has been
tested and
lasts the whole day even when put through intensive multimedia
usage,
so that’s saying something.

C.
A multi-core CPU will also be a treat for hardcore gamers.
With
graphics-intensive games like Infinity Blade and need for
speed
coming out on smartphones, a single-core will take a severe
beating
running such games. However, with multiple cores, developers
can take
advantage of multi-threading to optimize their games to run
smoothly
and push the limits of hardware even more.

D.
The
user interface will be extremely zippy and responsive on
multi-core
phones. While single-core phones may struggle to render
complex
widgets and such, multi-core phones will not even break stride
in
animations or real-time changes in the UI. This will be
pleasing to
the eye, and also less irritating to the user who is rushing
through
tasks on the phone. This can be clearly seen on the new
Android 4.1,
with a responsive and seamless interface.

To
sum up, A multi-core CPU delivers much better performance
when
compared with a single-core CPU. With multiple cores,
developers can
take advantage of multi-threading to optimize their games to
run
smoothly.



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