Intel takes a potshot at SoC manufacturers claiming that they aren’t doing their part in optimizing Android for multi-core chipsets. The statement comes from Mike Bell, GM of Intel's Mobile and Communications Group, who said, “The way it's implemented right now, Android does not make as effective use of multiple cores as it could, and I think – frankly – some of this work could be done by the vendors who create the SoCs, but they just haven't bothered to do it.” We reckon his views stem from the fact that Medfield is still, technically, a single core CPU, which pales in comparison with dual-core and quad-core chipsets from manufacturers, like Nvidia, Qualcomm and Samsung. It’s quite clear that Bell is trying to distract us from the fact that Intel is nowhere close to what ARM is offering right now in the mobile space and is probably buying the company some time till they get their act together.
Defending their honour
While there may be some truth in the fact that Android is not completely optimized for multi-core chipsets, the fact that he said SoC vendors have to design chips around an OS makes no sense. A microchip design is a long term product, whereas software can easily be updated a hundred times in a month, does that mean chip vendors have to keep tweaking and changing their designs? It’s up to Google to optimize Android for the hardware at hand and I’m sure that by this time next year, Android 5.0 or 6.0 will work super well with quad-core and even hex-core chipsets.
We saw the same story on the desktop. Once AMD and Intel released multi-core CPUs, Windows wasn’t optimized for it overnight. Bell goes on to state, “A lot of stuff we are dealing with, thread scheduling and thread affinity, isn't there yet and on top of that, largely when the operating system goes to do a single task, a lot of other stuff stops. So as we move to multiple cores, we're actually putting a lot of investment into software to fix the scheduler and fix the threading so if we do multi-core products it actually takes advantage of it.”
What he doesn’t say is that Intel had to spend a lot of time and effort for Medfield, since they had to make the chip work with Android, rather than it being the other way around. Android is already optimized for ARM, so chipset makers can focus on optimizing other things.
Bell also conveniently fails to mention that Medfield is a major power hog and runs super-hot, even while making phone calls. During our review of the Lava XOLO X900, we got a very pitiful battery life and the phone had a lot of heating issues. Now this could just be Lava’s inefficient implantation and design of the phone itself, but we do feel it’s more to do with Medfield. Can you imagine what would happen if Intel had put two physical cores in the chipset? Bell refused to say when we could expect multi-core Atom chipsets for mobiles, but one thing’s certain, it will be a while till they catch up with ARM.
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