Feeds

back to article Sony exec: quad-core CPUs bad for today's phones

Sony has said quad-core processors are not appropriate for smartphones - they're too great a drain on the battery, and apps just don't need them yet. According to Sony Mobile executive Stephen Sneeden, the Japanese giant won't be putting quad-core chips into its handsets until next year. ”You’ll see in 2013, as we’re evaluating …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
Gold badge

Finally some sense

Cores are today's megapixels. Another marketing tool so sales people can say that their model has something the competition doesn't (even if it is never used).

Multi-core on phones makes sense for very few things. There may be some games that will use it. There's a few music sequencer applications it would work for, but when it comes to using the web the 3G connection is the bottleneck.

9
1
Silver badge

Re: Finally some sense

The most useful thing multicore brings is reducing the pauses and stutters badly behaved code can cause. Doesn't matter if a process refuses to yield, another core takes over and keeps the UI going. It was certainly what I saw going from single to dual core on the desktop. Dual to quad made little difference apart from the couple of compute intensive apps like PAR2.

While the Linux kernel seems to handle multitasking better than Windows when faced with yield refuseniks, a 2nd core still makes sense some of the time but quad is just power sucking extravagance.

1
3
FAIL

its just Sony trying to justify always being a year behind on hardware

There's a little 4 core chip that actually has 5 cores.

One really weak, low power core just to take care of basic operation.

One or more of the powerful cores only get turned on / clocked up if your software needs the extra power.

Further power savings come from these being made on a smaller nanometer scale than last year's chips.

This will take a lot less power than last year's single and dual core chips

And your "Cores are the new Megapixels" is ridiculously far from the truth

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: its just Sony trying to justify always being a year behind on hardware

I agree.

While the Sony Exec is right and it isn't really needed, what it means in reality is this year Sony will be shipping all their phones running last years hardware, with some UI tweaks and a different case.

No doubt charging top dollar for them too.

While the great core race might not be totally sane, when I come to change my phone I don't really want to be presented with a handset that is essentially the same thing I bought last time, at the same price. Some from of progression would be nice really.

0
0

Re: its just Sony trying to justify always being a year behind on hardware

"in reality is this year Sony will be shipping all their phones running last years hardware, with some UI tweaks and a different case."

So exactly the same as all their other Android phones before this then...

I really liked the arc, but why they insisted on releasing it with outdated hardware and charging a full premium price for it was beyond me.

0
0

Its insight like this which has made Sony-Ericsson what it is today.

2
1
Anonymous Coward

you mean "it's a lack of insight like this..."

1
0
Thumb Up

What you did there?

I saw it.

3
0
Silver badge
Trollface

About time!

Compared to 20 years ago, developers are lazy - so many relying on the performance of their hardware, rather than speed-optimised code.

6
0
Silver badge
Thumb Down

Re: About time!

No its just now developer time is so much more expensive than the hardware. Hand optimize code is often less readable tends can be very hard to maintain in addition to the extra developer time it takes to optimize. Optimize just to optimize can be as bad as writing sloppy inefficient code.

0
0

Re: Re: About time!

And I wouldn't trust most developers to optimize their code anyway. That optimization you just spent 4 hours on? Yeah, the compiler already does that.

0
0
Coat

in other news,..

today, according to a Sony Motoring executive, engines are bad for todays cars and trucks and not appropriate for vehicles. Further statements from a Sony Kitchens executive, white goods are nad for todays kitchens. Fridges, freezers, and cookers (along with secondary appliances like kettles, toasters, coffee machines) are totally inappropriate in the modern eatorium. And finally, in a statement from a Sony Buildings executive, ceiling, walls, and floors, are ruining Roominations worldwide, furniture and possessions have no place in the modern house!

1
10
Ru
Facepalm

You have no idea what the point of the article was, do you?

Hooray, it is daft analogy day again!

Would you get a 6 wheeler car? More traction, better load carrying! Oh, but more expensive, more maintenance, more weight, more friction than the 4 wheeler that does the job just fine now.

How about a cooker with twice as many hobs? If you're catering, or feeding a big family, sure. Otherwise it is just extra space and expense. A kettle that's twice as big, but its minimum capacity is twice as large? All that wasted time and electricity.

I could go on, but I'm already stretching my own patience.

10
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: in other news,..

I can imagine you're one of those lovely people who simply has to have a 4 litre+ sized engine in any vehicle you buy simply because it's available and not 'cos you actually need it? Well those roads leading to the supermarket can get pretty tricky sometimes, you need all that horsepower to mount the speed bumps in the car park!

3
3
Anonymous Coward

Re: in other news,..

You just might want to read up on multi-core computing and then take that knowledge and apply it to what you know about smartphone hard- and software.

Do that, and you'll find that Sony's comments are less Luddite than you seem to think. :)

1
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: in other news,..

A 4 litre sized engine ?

No. I drive an articulated lorry to my local tesco, its a bugger to park and costs a fortune to run. But has ample room for all my groceries.

1
1
Trollface

Re: in other news,..

Nice troll bait, 6/10 for getting me to respond!

0
0
Coat

Re: You have no idea what the point of the article was, do you?

oh noooooo, it seems my flippant response has elluded some readers, let me break it down for yooz guyz

ok. to address your rejoinder, l i got rid of my car as the shops are within walking distance (do you remember not driving everywhere coz you were to lazy to walk?) anyway, the car thing doesn't work for me as an analogy. The cooker is so much better - I have an unbelievably small kitchen (as a mini smartphone is to a laptop), but i still NEED a cooker, so I replaced my standard cooker with a mini one, it takes less space and it's more efficient - the point being "I still NEED a cooker" and we don't have any alternative at this point in spacetime!

At the moment our technology has not yet come up with 'food replicators', our best kitchen tech is the oven and microwave. If the head of Sony blah blah said ovens have no plaice in the kitchen i'd laugh at him and make some pisstakey analogy about mobiles not needing quad-cores.

If you still don't get it you're screwed. Bandage your knuckles and chase the sun :)

0
2
Trollface

Re: Re: You have no idea what the point of the article was, do you?

Your everything is "elluding" me. I could actually understand your first post, but this? I understood two things: you need a cooker and you're so awfully, terribly bad at analogies. So I'll respond to that. Do you need 2 cookers? 4 cookers? The head of Sony's kitchen department says that FOUR ovens have no place in the kitchen, and certainly not running hot all the time, even when you're not cooking anything. On that rare occasion that you have 200 people over for dinner, they'll just have to wait on your one oven.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Re: You have no idea what the point of the article was, do you?

You still need a cooker in your tiny kitchen, Sony is just saying you don't need an industrial one with 6+ hobs and a metre wide oven.

Perhaps you should stick to the kitchen as your technology insight is getting you nowhere?

0
1

This post has been deleted by its author

Quad core is more power efficient

Spreading tasks over multiple cores means that each core can run at a lower frequency, and thus a lower voltage. Since power consumption is proportional to f * V^2, running 4 cores at 50% performance uses far less power than 2 cores at 100% performance.

So Tegra3 makes a lot of sense, even if you NEVER need more than 2 cores worth of performance. And the low-leakage 5th core helps reducing power consumption further when idling.

2
0
Silver badge

Re: Quad core is more power efficient

Thanks Wilco 1!

It even allows another car analogy. Small engined car doing 100mph with engine running at 100% power output uses less fuel than larger engined car at the same speed as its engine isn't running at full power. (Full power != optimal RPM for fuel)

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Quad core is more power efficient

Very true, but only if you have 4 tasks that can execute simultaneously. Otherwise you're relying on the OS (and SoC designer to have appropriate power-gating) to shut down the unused cores. Linux and Android, as the kernel stands today aren't quite able to do this reliably yet so you end up with user-side hotplug daemons plugging cores in and out at some fairly slow rate.

This isn't really a problem of quad core designs, dual core designs suffer it too. None of them are perfect yet.

1
1
Silver badge

Re: Quad core is more power efficient

That's assuming that the voltages scale down similarly, which I don't believe is quite the case. At 50% frequency, you can operate at a lower voltage, yes, but I don't think the reduction is all that great (it's definitely anywhere near half). Furthermore, using four cores depends on a task that can be allocated to four cores. In the mobile world, there aren't as many things that have to be juggled at once, plus whatever things needs to be run may not be multithreaded, leaving the extra cores unused. At least with two cores, it's easy enough for the OS to take one and an application to take another and manage things from there. Just as it's easy enough to juggle two balls. But add more cores (more balls) and juggling them starts to get tricky.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Re: Quad core is more power efficient ONLY IF you can use them

Given that Dalvik is currently single threaded throwing 4 cores at foreground processes means 3 almost 100% idle cores at every instant. Even with native code not many apps can use more than 2 cores. Doesn't matter how low you clock it, a powered up core doing nothing is still wasting power.

The much discussed Android multitasking doesn't help, background processes run infrequently and an app using enough CPU to benefit from multlcores would be burning so much power no user would leave it installed. (Early versions of the Facebook app made that mistake)

Whatever the theoretical advantages of spreading the work across slower cores, you have to have workloads that can be run in parallel. This generation of Android is a poor fit for that.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Quad core is more power efficient

Except that dual core Snapdragon Krait on a smaller process manages to do almost all tasks vastly faster, and I'd wager at far less power consumption (28nm vs 40nm, quad +1 vs dual).

0
0
Stop

You missed Sony's point

Sony's point (as has been the Sony Ericsson's point when designing phones) is that cutting-edge guts are too expensive (right now) and cut into our modest (compared to other oems) margins. We want to remain a modest price point (at wholesale) seller. Next year when these processors are considerably cheaper (and more cores/faster gpu are cutting edge) we will put them into our phones. We don't view our phones as significant potential streams of subscription revenues, so we can't subsidize the costs of cutting edge hardware like our PSVita..

1
0
Facepalm

Wow!

I should be getting all my advice about phone processors from you guys! You know so much more than the phone manufacturers. No, really.

0
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Wow!

@Jim If you knew who was posting you'd probably find that a bunch of us *are* (working for) phone manufacturers.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Did he really say...

"Quad-cores are overkill ... we're going to put a higher-performance cpu than the quad-cores later this year"?

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Meh

It's all very well going on about how many ARM cores you have or don't have, but I'll bet actual die area is minimal compared to the 2 to the nth power of GPU pipelines and x kB of SRAM cache in there too. That lot contributes just as much to the overall performance and power consumption won't be trivial.

0
0
Coat

Time will tell

We will see how the new Tegra3 and Krait based new phones fare in real life.

Today it's mere speculation - though I suspect Sony's assertation has merit, it just is too soon to tell if that's the whole story.

I kinda have my eye on the new HTC One X. But without the removable battery, I certainly has the power to last a full day.

0
0
Silver badge

Sony's right

And nothing in a PC after the 386 has been worth it. Well other than maybe graphics cards, but even then that's only for people who play first person shooters.

/end sarc

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.