MediaTek teases first true octa-core mobile processor, but Samsung might steal its thunder

July 26, 2013
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    mediatek logo

    The word “octa-core” has been thrown around a lot this year and it’s quite unfortunate that no true octa-core processor has come out yet.

    Samsung tried it first with their Exynos 5 Octa processor this year. Then Motorola teased the tech community again with their X8 Computing System. Neither of those are true octa-cores.

    MediaTek, a company not usually known for high-end processors in the mobile market, has just teased an octa-core processor. Here’s the kicker, it’s actually a real octa-core processor.

    When Samsung first said they were doing an 8-core processor, we hoped for the best. However, Samsung ended up doing a system where four high powered cores would turn on when things needed to get done and four lesser cores would turn on when the powerful cores weren’t needed. So really it wasn’t a true octa-core processor. It was more like two quad-core processors smashed together. The initial plan was to make the two core cluster work together, but due to a hardware dysfunctionality, the system could only work with one of the clusters at a time.

    Motorola teased us again with the X8 Computer System that boasted 8-cores. However, that’s really just a modified dual-core processor with two single core processors and a quad-core graphics chip, plus two other cores for sensors and language processing. The 8-cores claim is therefore just a marketing ploy.

    mediatek octa core

    MediaTek looks to change all that with their new processor. They’re touting it as a true octa-core processor. As you can see from the picture above, they say their processor can have 8 active cores all at once. This means no more of that faux octa-core stuff. This is the real deal and what a big deal it could turn out to be.

    According to their marketing materials, MediaTek claims to bring a whole lot of performance improvements. This includes smoother interfaces, smoother web browsing, smoother gaming, and better video playback.

    Why is MediaTek’s octa-core processor such a big deal?

    There are a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it’s the only one of its kind. As we’ve mentioned above, other OEMs have attempted the 8-core set up but always seemed to fall short of the goal. MediaTek seems to have been able to make all 8 cores work at once without overheating issues or other problems. That’s pretty big news because that means that it’s only a matter of time before Intel, Samsung, Qualcomm, etc follow suit and we see more of these super powerful processors.

    This is also a pretty big deal for MediaTek because this is really the first CPU they’ve done for mobile that may earn some respect. Before this, MediaTek was mostly known for supplying processors to the bottom half of the Android industry. Their chips aren’t terrible, but they’ve really never been touted as amazing before. That could all change with this octa-core chip.

    There’s always a “but”

    It is a little hard to get too excited, though. We haven’t seen any benchmarks for these new processors and likely won’t for a little while. However, if MediaTek’s octa-core is as powerful as they are claiming it to be, then this could change MediaTek’s position in the mobile industry.

    And there’s another twist – Samsung just announced the second generation of Exynos 5 Octa, Exynos 5420, which is faster, has a better GPU, and, very importantly, can reportedly fire up both processor clusters. Samsung says it will start manufacturing the new Exynos 5420 this August, potentially throwing a wrench in MediaTek’s plans.

    The Taiwanese chipmaker is unofficially said to ship its octa-core chip in the fourth quarter, meaning that, if Samsung plays its cards right, it could swoop in and get the coveted “first” title once more.

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    Comments

    • Misti curia

      Lots of apps still don’t make full use a 4 threads no way 8 is going to get any more

      • Joshua Hill

        Apart from Antutu which is so not an indicative of real world performance benchmark. Also 3d marks physics test will eat up 8 or more cores.

        • Roberto Tomás

          apparently these chips will come with powerVR Rogue gpus — the gpus are so powerful that the 4-core A7 variant clocked down 15% still scored 29600 on AnTuTu — whereas naïvely you might expect it to score ~14k or less.

      • http://Nepallica.com Pretush

        probably android it self don’t make full use of 8 cores.

      • Roberto Tomás

        individual apps don’t really matter .. okay, it would be really very *nice* if they were all multi-threaded, and single-threaded apps will not see a lot of performance in these A7 cores — and Android developers really, really need to start multi-threading their apps! it’s a 4-core world now — but the operating system itself is still highly multi-tasking, and actually *uses* it. The scheduler can definitely make use of the cores. (part of what can slow a single-threaded app down is the single-thread. but part is also the other programs running while it is running.)

      • fran

        app that benefit from 8 cores will be Emulator.
        with all 8 core active I can start playing NDS emulator in smooth 60fps :)
        or perhaps I can even run Dolphin well <3

        assuming my phone won't overheat & blown up first.. O.O

        • Misti curia

          That’s true I hope lots of emulators come to use 8 cores, and about dolphin it will only work if this uses open gl es 3.0

        • gils001

          Emulators won’t really benefit from 8 a7 cores. Emulators must be coded to work with multiple cores and most emulators now only use 2. Also, the a7 cores are not that efficient you would have more luck with an a15. I want NDS emulation and Dolphin to work as much as anyone but i have more faith in more efficient cores not more cores. Btw check out Drastic Emulator (NDS) on youtube

      • Magnetic1

        I read in the future the way processing will be done is by identification and apps will request processing resource by a tag. The tag will be standardized so that hardware controller can properly allocate resources to meet the requirements of the tag. This way the CPU will act like a router and become much more scaleable. I don’t have much details as the article was more theoretical. But it could be pretty interesting.

    • Amadeus Klein

      Ok, so give me a phone with the true octa core processor along with a 7000mah battery so I can actually use it all day (but still have good form factor)… People complain about the exynos battery life, how bad will this one be? That said I am glad somebody finally put out a true 8 core, now let’s see how we can improve on that.

      • Joshua Hill

        It’s built on an Arm A7 core so 8 of them will probably chew less power than Samsung’s current A15 quad with broken cache interconnect. Hoping the new Exynos will fix the performance/power ratio of the current Exynos chip.

        • kpkp

          I also read it will be 8x A7 but why would they have a document named “Optimized ARM big.LITTLE”

          http://www.mediatek.com/_en/Event/201307_TrueOctaCore/download.php

          • Cao Meo

            It could be they use big.LITTLE architecture for all 8 A7 cores instead of 4 A15 and 4 A7 cores, just guessing

            • renz

              if they use all A7 cores then it won’t be called big.LITTLE anymore

            • kascollet

              LITTLE.LITTLE ?

            • renz

              lol :D

            • Cao Meo

              big.LITTLE is name of the architecture, maybe that’s a trademark as well.

              big.LITTLE is essentially a way to let many cores to run at the same time and do not mean there must be big and little.

              And MediaTek calls it Optimized ARM big.LITTLE so that’s possible :)

            • FloppyDisk

              No, big.LITTLE means than you pair a high performance A15/A12, A57 with its lower power, but highly power efficient sibling A7, A53 and select the core of such a pair, which is the best suited for the task at hand at any given time.

            • Cao Meo

              I know, that is ARM’s original big.LITTLE.

              We still don’t know what Mediatek’s Optimized big.LITTLE is about.

          • Joshua Hill

            The Mediatek BIG.little chip is a 2 + 2, A15 and A7 chip. http://m.androidauthority.com/mediatek-big-little-chip-203666/

          • Roberto Tomás

            big.LITTLE IP actually belongs to ARM, and any ARM manufacturer can buy the rights to produce their own big.LITTLE design.

    • FloppyDisk

      Well, first off, “octa-core” is rubbish. The Greek name for * is “octO” and NOT octA, just as in octopus.

      You are still referring to now some 5 months old Samsung Exynos 5410 production chips, where a bug in the cache coherent interconnect / CCI crippled the chip to only cluster migration.

      Apparently you have missed, that Samsung is starting to mass produce next month the updated octo-core SoC Exynos 5420, which can operate In-Kernel Switcher (IKS), as well as in Heterogeneous Multi-Processing (HMP) mode, aka Global Task Scheduling aka big.LITTLE MP, where ALL 8 cores are running simultaneously.
      http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2191850
      http://www.linaro.org/linaro-blog/2013/07/10/big-little-software-update/

      At the time, when the first Chromebook powered by the Exynos 5420 hits the store shelves this fall, the MTK hasn’t even transitioned from sampling into full production volumes yet.

      So no, Mediatek’s MT6592 certainly is NOT “the world’s first true octa-core mobile processor”, Samsung’s 5420 is.

      • FloppyDisk

        “The Greek name for * is “octO” and NOT octA, just as in octopus.”

        was meant to read:

        “The Greek name for 8 is “octO” and NOT octA, just as in octopus.”

        • Joshua Hill

          The octa is from Octagon maybe ? Octa is more commonly used than octo in my experience.

      • http://AndroidAuthority.com/ Bogdan Petrovan

        Thanks for reading. You’re right about the new Exynos 5420, we’ve written about it too: http://www.androidauthority.com/samsung-exynos-5420-octa-faster-smarter-247164/ I’ve updated Joe’s post to reflect it.

        About the octa/octo, both variants are accepted:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-core_processor and Mediatek used “octa core” in their materials.

        • JosephHindy

          Samsung’s 8-core is not a true 8-core. It is a quad core A15 clustered with a quad-core A7. Look at your own XDA link, you’ll see it. They’re two processing units put on the same chip but they are still two different processing units. Using the kernel modifications, they can make both clusters work together so that all 8 cores work…but you have to go back to the beginning here and realize that the A7 and the A15 quad-cores are two separate entities on the SoC. Just look at the pictures that got posted by you.

          MediaTek’s 8 cores have 2 things that Samsung’s don’t.
          1. They are not part of a cluster. They are a single 8-core entity. Exynos is not that.
          2. MediaTek’s 8 cores are all the same power. There is no big.little, weak cores/strong cores relationship.

          All the links you sourced don’t call the Exynos an octa-core. They call it what it really is, two quad cores tied together in a cluster. If you put two i7′s in a computer, you don’t have an octa-core i7. You have two i7′s clustered together. Same concept applies here. MediaTek still did it first.

          • FloppyDisk

            You reported about an octo-core, which means a SoC with 8 cores. This requirement is true for Mediatek’s MT6592, using 8 cores of the same Cortex-A7 type, but it is as well with Samsung’s Exynos 5420, which just happens to have a mix of 4 Cortex A7 and 4 Cortex A15 cores.

            You nowhere requested, that all 8 cores have to be of the same kind, to qualify as and octo-core.

            I don’t see, how one can manufacture a chip with 2 different types of cores, without grouping them by likeness, so of course they end up clustered.

            Since the 5420′s 8 cores can all be used individually in any combination, just as with the MTK or in a group of 4, where each one can be either an A7 or an A15 in any combination, this then is only 4-core mode, I maintain that Samsung made it work first.

            To allow for IKS and HMP kernel modes, you need to have a comparable kind of interconnect fabric for the cores to interact with each other and the cache as Mediatek must be using, so no real difference here either.

            And of course, throwing 2 i7 together is symmetrical multiprocessing, where the CPU’s communicate with each other through external PCIe lanes and not an integrated interconnect and don’t share the cache.

            • JosephHindy

              Okay let me put this another way.

              Why does IKS exist? Because each core in the A15 quad core is paired with an A7 core from the A7 quadcore. IKS allows you to switch between them. According to your XDA thread (which I’ve read twice now, you really need to stop writing 4 paragraphs based on one sentence). ALL IKS does is switch between the two quad cores in the Exynos octa.

              Now HMP is the big thing here. It allows the two quad cores to work together as an 8 core. Read that four times please. It allows —the two quad core processors to work together as a single octa— because it is not, in and of itself, a true 8-core processor. it is two quad core processors that need modifications on a low level in order to make them work together. If it were a true 8-core, there wouldn’t be a “4 cores here and 4 cores there” thing, it’s just “there are 8 cores”.

              I’d be willing to bet that MediaTek won’t need IKS or HMP in order to work properly, because it’s not really two quad core processors. It’s a single, 8-core processor.

            • http://AndroidAuthority.com/ Bogdan Petrovan

              I don’t know Joe, I think you’re nitpicking here. A CPU with 8 cores is by any standard an octa-core. Even MediaTek admits that, check out the illustration: “competitor 8-core configuration”.

            • JosephHindy

              If it’s a CPU with 8-cores, then why do they continuously refer to the A15 and A7 as separate clusters? “Cluster” infers separate CPUs rigged together to work as one CPU, meaning it isn’t a single CPU but several.

            • Joshua Hill

              Multi core support has to be implemented in the OS or drivers (software somewhere). It doesn’t just magically happen at a hardware level.

          • FloppyDisk

            @ http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2191850
            you read the last paragraph in section “Heterogeneous Multi-Processing (HMP)”?
            “Misconception #6: Yes the CPU is a true 8-core processor. It’s just not being used a such in its initial software implementations”

            • JosephHindy

              Someone posted in an XDA thread that unicorns were real and that a kernel mod was causing batteries to melt. I’m just saying you shouldn’t believe everything you read on a forum. People get “thanks” for being popular, not for being overly smart or, you know, right.

          • Joshua Hill

            Intel or AMD’s original quad cores (can’t remember which now) were 2 dual cores with an interconnect between them and placed on the one package. I doubt you’d say they’re not quad cores. The confusion comes from having two different architectures but it’s still all on the same IC which is completely different to having 2 processors in different sockets on a motherboard.

      • greg

        I prefer Octopus Core,
        sounds more wild & aggressive than feminine Octa Core..

        • FloppyDisk

          You forget about the “pus” part, with originates from the Greek “πόδι” = foot or leg.

          Since we are not talking about the solder ball grid “legs”, where both SoCs have much more than 8, the
          πόδι part doesn’t really apply here; sorry ;-)

      • Magnetic1

        Give me a break. Let’s see you make a dual core. It’s still a great achievement.

      • RandomGreek

        I just wanted to say I’m a Greek and in my language it is actually pronounced octa.We say “octapirino” which means 8 cores we don’t say it “octopirino”

    • renz

      it’s not that i’m being negative towards technology advancement or anything like that but what benefit (in real usage) this true 8 core processor compared to 4 core processor available now?

      • Joshua Hill

        Or how about ultra efficient, highly clocked dual core chips. Even quad cores is overkill for phones currently.

        • renz

          personally i like the idea. but for tablet quad core might be more suitable choice

          • Joshua Hill

            Totally agree. Quads for tablets is fine, no need for 8 core CPUs even there though. To be honest if dual core is done right in hardware and OS I still think it is sufficient for tablets. However, tablets have the space for heat dissipation and bigger batteries so the techie in me says let the cores multiply :D

        • Cao Meo

          8, even 4 A15 maybe too much right now when software still doesn’t catch up, but 8 A7 core idea makes a lot of sense.

          • Joshua Hill

            Doesn’t matter whether it’s 8 A15′s, A7′s or whatever. If the software and OS can’t use the extra cores they’re still wasted. Most PC apps can’t even use 8 cores so I’m not sure why you expect phones to be better.

            • Cao Meo

              What you say is true for a single app, but Android is about multitasking so they can exploit all the cores.

              Look at Motorola X8 system, they have 2 cores which are always on for special tasks, so Mediatek can take this idea as well as A7 is low on power consumption.

            • Joshua Hill

              The Motorola is only a 2 core machine. That’s all Devs can program for. As you said two cores are dedicated for gestures and background tasks that Moto X employs. The other 4 core are actually the GPU cores I believe. So as I said initially it’s only really fair to say the Moto chip is a 2 core chip compared to the Mediateks 8 cores.

            • Cao Meo

              1 app runs 2 cores, what about 4 apps or more running simultaneously?

              And in the future Android may allow 1 apps run on more than 2 cores!

            • Joshua Hill

              In the PC world a process called interleaving is used. Very few programs, probably no real world ones require 100% CPU usage. So more than one program can be run per core by interleaving when the calls are sent to the CPU between the programs. I’m pretty sure Android and phones have this or some similar feature.

            • Joshua Hill

              AA have an article on this very topic that you may find elucidating, http://m.androidauthority.com/do-we-need-eight-core-250558/

            • Joshua Hill

              ‘We already knew the X8 was based on a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro. However, the X8 isn’t a processor – it’s not even a single system-on-a-chip’
              http://www.androidpolice.com/2013/07/31/motorola-reveals-more-details-of-the-mysterious-x8-chip/

      • Cristi13

        It all depends how the soc is made, it could be weaker than other processors or powerful (the manufacturing of socs is very complex). But you realise that in modern CPUs the cores turn themselves of if necessary right (and also reducing frequency per core). There are many other things that I could explain to you (like the 28nm or 20nm process) but probably you’re gonna consider them usseless anyway.

        • renz

          well we’re are talking about processor that will be used in tablet or smartphone. what application you’re going to run will use all 8 processor at once on a phone or tablet? or is it for heavy multitasking that we use to do with our PC? i know other cores can be turned off while not in use but with that many cores being throw in most likely the clock speed will be low to keep the power consumption in check. unless they have something like intel turbo boost built in then it might be another story

          • Cao Meo

            It’s chicken and egg question. there will never be apps to run on non-existent hardware.

            • renz

              the reality is now. personally i like if SoC company improving upon dual and quad cores design we have right now. just add more cores when there really is a need for it. at this rate we might see 12-16 core next year and 24-32 cores after that lol. did the company really think the benefit of added cores or did they just do it just to boast who will coming up with more cores? this remind me of the Ghz race although the ghz race still useful because it can speed up application.

            • Cao Meo

              I actually think PC is in stagnant condition, it is mobile that leads in innovation like low power consumption or hi-res screen…

              I think progress is hardware and software pushing each other and when there is powerful hardware, there will be software that exploits it.

              But I agree that there must be cooperation between chip producers, Linux, ARM, Google, OEMs and app developers to realize all the potential.

    • Nelson Nabua Jr

      but look at this one:

      Series 6 (Rogue)

      Mediatek, chinese processor manufacturer for low end chipsets, has announced that it’s GPU’s of upcoming processor’s namely MT6588, MT6592 will be using POWER VR Series 6 chipsets. The chipsets are planned to release in 4th Quarter of 2013.

      Source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PowerVR

      • K.

        MediaTek is a Taiwanese company, not Chinese.

        • Ho Ku

          they are the same thing.

          • Joshua Hill

            Tell that to the Taiwanese. You might as well say Canadians are USA citizens or all commonwealth nations are English.

            • Ho Ku

              it’s more like saying Puerto Ricans are American by citizenship and don’t have Puerto Rican citizenship If you go to PR, you will see they have their own citizenship which is not considered the same as US citizenship.

      • Roberto Tomás

        this is the MT6592. :) That is sweet, I wonder where they got that from.

    • Stefan Constantinescu

      There’s no model name. No clock speeds. No information about the GPU or the process node being used. MediaTek didn’t announce anything, they “teased” an octa-core chip.

      • Roberto Tomás

        there are —just not on this site. check out gizchina, for example.

    • Roberto Tomás

      “We haven’t seen any benchmarks for these new processors and likely won’t for a little while.”

      There actually are early benchmarks: this chip clocked at 1.7Ghz (out of an expected 2.0Ghz) scored 29,600 in AnTuTu — according to a MediaTek slide.

      • JosephHindy

        Like I said above, Samsung’s Exynos is two quad cores clustered together. While it does have 8 cores, it’s not a true octa-core processor. This is 8-cores without clustering, it’s just 8-cores. So Samsung did not do it first.

    • john

      In an ideal situation, where programmers are plenty, versed in multi-threaded coding, and cheap.

      Building a CPU out of slower/simpler processing cores gives you the best performance/watt, since the square of clockspeed is proportional to heat dissipation as well as the length of the pipelines/gate counts, and when done correctly, minimized overhead time etc.

      Not to mention Java is pretty good with mutli-threading given certain situations, and most demanding of apps such as games are also quite suitable for such approach.

      But in reality, it always breaks down to how many of the coders are willing to split their programs, how the OS handles it, MONEY MONEY MONEY.

      Not to mention there are all too many other specs: memory bandwidth etc, that have much greater impact on the actual performance.

      TL;DR, wait till the damn thing is out, with SoCs, we really can’t judge their performance without the benchmarks and real time usage.

    • back to school

      I bet mediatek uses recent linux patch from linaro In-kernel switcher (IKS) & Global Task Scheduler (GTS), to effectively use all 8 cores.
      http://linuxgizmos.com/linaro-optimizes-linux-support-for-arm-big-little

      Android still can’t use 8 core efficiently, because of current Linux scheduler limitation.

      Once linux kernel optimized for big.little, I believe phone manufacturer don’t need specially-designed 8 core configuration. They just need to provide big.little hardware and let the OS handle it efficiently.

    • Nik

      this just means we will see the first device that has a giant battery and still can’t make it through the day. the entire idea of 8 cores is crazy

      • Joshua Hill

        Read the comments about A7 power consumption. It’s unlikely this chip will be the power hog you describe.

    • Anestis

      Mediatek is a very good Company.I have the quad core MT 6589 a THL W8+ its fantastic for the money i gave.The other companies Still pay a lot for a phone Mediatek keeps prices low.Can someone tell me why the Big Companies Like Samsung Apple doesnt low the prices.How much profit they want? Oh you buy A Samsung phone extremely expensive and in a few months its old!!!! Democracy is anybody to have a smart phone not only a few people.I think the game is over with big companies they must put lower prices.Nobody here tels how much will cost the octa from Mediatek and how much The samsung.It doesnt matter if mediatek will be a little bit slower but The price matterrs…………………………….

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