Intel working on 48-core mobile processor, could become reality in “five to ten years”

October 31, 2012
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If anyone was to tell you three or four years ago that today’s high-end mobile devices would reach the point where quad-core processors inside would become standard, what would you have said? It seemed crazy, not to mention that less than a decade ago we probably didn’t even dream of multi-core CPUs altogether.

Heck, let’s be completely honest – who knew that you can even cram a processor inside a phone, say, back in 2003, when the Nokia 1100 was the coolest thing on Earth? So, after all that, can anyone be shocked or even surprised when Intel announces that it is currently working on 48-core mobile chips?

Well, I don’t know about shock, but we can certainly be amazed about this crazy pace at which mobile technology seems to advance. Now don’t get ready to throw your quad-core Galaxy S3s in the garbage just yet, because while Intel hopes to bring 48-core processors to phones and tablets soon, the entire development process might take up to ten years.

The CPUs already exist, being created back in 2009, but until now they’ve only been used in academic institutions in the world of fluid dynamics and linear algebra, so, as you can imagine, it will be a challenge to make them fully functional and ready for production in the mobile business.

“If we’re going to have this technology in five to 10 years, we could finally do things that take way too much processing power today.” says Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights and Strategy, although Intel officials are insisting that the experimental chips could be commercially available even sooner than five years from now.

But why would someone need 48 cores when it seems that four or even two can get the job done in so many areas these days? I mean, you have your gaming, your social networking, browsing and multimedia playing, all of which are smooth as silk on an S3, for instance.

Would 48-core chips make smartphones alternative power sources for spaceships? Or tablets miniature time-travel devices? Nope, sorry to disappoint you, nothing as critical or major. However, you might be able to encrypt an email while working on other high power demanding apps. Or watch an HD video in higher quality than ever before with the 48 cores of the mobile chip decoding different video frames at the same time. Or just multitask like crazy while saving up energy.

Again, nothing very critical or groundbreaking, unless software developers will be able to keep up with hardware advancements and find new and innovative ways of taking advantage of multi-core processing. And I’m not (only) talking about Angry Birds 10: The Final Frontier, where birds and piggies will battle it out in an apocalyptic décor filled with James Cameronian special effects.

Jokes aside, let’s keep our fingers crossed for Intel, because it’s pretty obvious that future mobile processors with 12 times as many cores as today would open a sea of endless possibilities for software development. Do you agree? Or do you think 48-core CPUs will be a waste of time, money and resources for Intel?

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