Octa-Core in Power

With MediaTek announcing an octa-core chipset, we tell you what it means and what kind of smartphones you might see in future.
twitter-logo Nidhi Singal        Print Edition: January 2014
Five more firms aim to bring octa core tech into India after Intex

After quad-core processors, the new buzz word in the smartphone world is the octa-core chipset. With MediaTek announcing an octa-core chipset, we tell you what it means and what kind of smartphones you might see in future.

With a host of octa core handsets vying to enter the Indian smartphone market could turn into a bigger battle zone in 2014. Currently dominated by the Korean giant Samsung, which enjoys a monopoly in this segment, the market will see as many as five to six new entrants in 2014.

From international brands like Sony and LG to Indian ones like Intex and Micromax, most of the handset players are either ready to launch their octa-core devices soon or are considering it. The octacore handset line-up currently has two variants - Samsung Note 3 and the Samsung S4.

So what's the whole shebang around octacore? An octa-core processor is a single computing component with eight independent central processing units (a.k.a cores).

These are the units that read and execute multiple CPU instructions at the same time, increasing the overall speed of the programmes open to parallel computing. Manufacturers typically integrate the eight cores onto multiple dies in a single chip package. The move towards multi-tasking devices requires increased performance while creating greater power efficiency that can be achieved through an optimised multi-core technology.

This means that multi-core processing capability is fast becoming an integral part of mobile SoC (system on chip), warranting an upgrade to octa-core platforms. So far only two players have locked horns over octa-core processors for smartphones in India. Finbarr Moynihan, General Manager - International Sales & Marketing at MediaTek Inc. says, "Unlike existing octa-core solutions, which can only activate half of their CPU cores at once, MediaTek True Octa-Core allows for all eight of its cores to run simultaneously, offering the ultimate combination of performance and power-efficiency. By allowing tasks to run concurrently with the use of multiple cores, MediaTek True Octa-Core intelligently allocates processing power where it is needed, both on a per-application and per-task basis."

But Snapdragon advertises its processors as being more than just a CPU with that many cores. A company statement says,
"Qualcomm Snapdragon processors are smartly integrated into a complete, balanced system-on-chip solution and gain significant performance and power reduction benefits through heterogeneous computing or using more of the same type of processing engines such as the CPU, resulting in superior mobile user experiences while enabling consumers to do more and recharge less." But in the end, it all boils down to the cost of components and the value of the end product.

This is enticing more and more handset manufacturers to join hands with MediaTek to introduce octa-core technology to their customers. Intex

Intex Octa Core
Mobile was the first of the Indian smartphone mobile players to host this chipset in its latest smartphone range, which is likely to be launched soon at a competitive price point of around Rs 20,000. The 6 inch smartphone will be 7 mm thick and will run on Android 4.2.2.

The phone will boast a 1.7 Ghz octa-core processor and HD IPS touch-screen with an option of 16GB/32GB internal memory. Although the company claims it to be an "innovation on MediaTek octa-core chipset", it's merely an industry refinement. There are also leaked images of Huawei's smartphone, codenamed G750.

The device is expected to have a 5.5-inch screen of a rather disappointing 720p resolution, alongside 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal memory. Even Micromax's next flagship smartphone is rumoured to have an octa-core processor. The phablet will have a 5 inch display panel with FHD resolution.

Rumors have it that Sony will soon be ready with the octa-core in its Xperia series, code named "Tianchi". Reportedly aimed at budget-minded consumers, Tianchi is said to pack a 6-inch 1280 x 720 display. LG too is said to be experimenting with a mobile chipset of its own - Odin, in both a quad-core and octa-core versions.

With MediaTek taking a strong position for the competitive futuristic technology, the line-up of the next age octa-core smartphones will definitely give Qualcomm and Samsung something to think about. As for consumers, big features will now be accessible on budget handsets.

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