Moto X8 explained: software optimized, 50% better than competition in battery benchmarks

July 31, 2013
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Motorola revealed some more details about the X8 “computing system” that powers the Moto X and Verizon’s new Droid lineup. Extensive software optimization enables better performance with low battery consumption.

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The Moto X is a little more than 24 hours away, and it’s good to finally get some official information on what has to be the most hyped device of the year.

Motorola’s SVP for engineering, Iqbal Arshad, talked to PCMag about what makes the X8 computing system at the core of the Moto X special. Especially since neither Verizon, whose Droid devices are powered by the same chip, or Motorola were forthcoming about the X8 until now, our interest was piqued.

superior performance, low battery consumption, and “intelligent, probabilistic computing.”

First, the Motorola engineer specified what the X8 isn’t – a SoC in the traditional sense of the word. The goal for Motorola was to move away from the CPU-based paradigm in order to achieve superior performance, low battery consumption, and “intelligent, probabilistic computing.”

To achieve these goals, Motorola paired a “regular” dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC clocked at 1.7GHz and optimized it at a firmware level. According to Arshad:

We've done additional optimizations on top of that such as optimizing the entire Linux user space to move it to an ARM instruction set, cache optimization, Dalvik just-in-time optimization, and we've changed the file system {…} It's full hardware-software integration to deliver best-in-class performance.

In addition to this software-optimized Snapdragon S4 Pro chip, Moto added a contextual computing processor and a natural language processor, which Arshad says Motorola designed in-house, although they were manufactured by a third-party.

Combining the optimized SoC with custom processors for language and sensors supposedly allowed Motorola to achieve big battery savings – Iqbal Arshad claims that without the two custom cores, the phone would have needed two additional batteries to achieve the same functionality.

Even better, the power savings don’t affect performance – PCMag quotes Arshad saying that the X8 outperforms competitors in battery rundown benchmarks, while delivering superior frame rates. (Benchmark claims, however, shouldn’t be taken at face value.)

One final interesting note – Moto’s engineering boss says the company could opt for any other processor, from Qualcomm or other chipmaker, which signals that the company wants the spotlight on its own work, rather than let a “legacy CPU” supplier get the credit.

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