If we take a look back at the past 30+ years of computing we can honestly say one technological advancement has constantly driven computing forward, that one thing is the microprocessor. Intel has led much of this computing revolution creating the world’s fastest microprocessors for computers. Today, bringing faster and more powerful microprocessors beyond computers and to mobile devices is the central focus of many. This time however Intel is not leading the charge.
Today, pushing the boundaries of the microprocessor for mobile devices are the likes of NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and Marvell. Those companies use the ARM architecture to create their mobile chipsets. Right now, NVIDIA is first out of the gate with dual core mobile devices; their Tegra 2 processor is in devices like the Motorola Atrix 4G, LG Optimus 2X, Motorola XOOM tablet, LG Tab and G-Slate and a host of other super phones and tablets. Qualcomm's dual-core is in the HP Touchpad and Texas Instruments dual-core is in the RIM Playbook, both products will be out later this year.
Not standing still with dual-core, NVIDIA showed me a demo last night of their latest quad-core chipset code-named Kal-El, that will deliver roughly a 5x improvement over their current dual-core Tegra 2. NVIDIA executives said that they are expecting quad-core tablets to ship in the August time frame and quad-core super phones by holiday of this year.
So the real question is why do we need multi-core microprocessors in our mobile devices. The answer is so we can create better software.
More cores mean more than just a faster overall experience with a mobile device. It means more complex software can be written. It means more visually rich graphics and multimedia experiences. It means a more compelling web experience with next generation Internet software.
Just think about how primitive the software created in the 90’s was, or what websites were like in 2000 compared to the web of today. All of the advancements with software have been possible because the industry pushed forward and created faster processors capable of running next generation software. Those processor innovations were then taken advantage of by the creative software community who utilized it and made more compelling software. Ask any software engineer and they will tell you, there is not such thing as too much processing power.
The same will be true with mobile devices. We will look back in 5,10,15 years and think how primitive apps, operating systems, and the Internet were on our mobile devices. All made possible by the innovations in the microprocessor to deliver this next generation of computing.
Multi-core in mobile devices is not simply important it is essential.