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

by: AdrianOctober 31, 2012

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?

  • Goutham Mukkapati

    I’m wondering, how will the battery even last with so many cores?

    • -=midigas=-

      We’ll just have to hope for a whole new generation of battery technology which can cram thousands of mah in a really tiny cell i guess :P

    • Qliphah

      It should be better as each core won’t have to work as hard. Provided devleopers use the cores… AFAIK most multicores today are very under utilized.

  • IncCo

    i wish that they would be more innovative on the battery front, it seems like that has been standing still for a very long time now..

  • Ralf

    It would be more awesome if they could build a battery who could last atleast 10 days on active browsing…Hmm, 48 cores.. cool, but do you really need 48 cores in phone? If your doing Photoshop and Video editing on phone then sure.. :D

    • Adrian Diaconescu

      I don’t know about 10 days, but I really think a phone with an autonomy of up to a week will come soon. My money is on Samsung, but I wouldn’t ignore Motorola either in this race…

  • je

    Got to wonder what kind of CPU load will be created by augmented reality and other, yet to be developed, applications that continuously interact with our surroundings.

  • Ya boiii

    The iPhone 5 is even smoother than the S3 and it has half the cores. It really is about the software, isn’t it?

    • qanita zakir

      no it isn’t abt software. it’s about how much work u r doing. how many softwares or processes you are working on at a time.

      • Ya boiii

        What you just said could be solved with proper software implementation. These are smartphones, not servers.

  • Shikhin Sethi

    Obviously, Intel would try it’s level best to focus more on the mobile market. ARM still dominates there, and x86 are a real PITA when it comes to power consumption.

  • Rancho Massey

    It must be having 48 GPU cores,, not 48 cores for the CPU,,, even Nvidia’s Tegra4 has 72 cores for its GPU for supporting Graphic intensive , battery consuming ,performance hungry gaming applications…

  • technology lover

    after ten years i guess there will be processors with even higher number of cores than 48. who knows coz technology is developing very fast. last year people were crazy for dual cores but now quad core and octa core don’t seem to be too much amazing. so u can exect a processor with more than 48 cores in 2023 or 2024.