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

by: Bogdan PetrovanJuly 31, 2013

motorola logo TechCocktail/Flickr

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:

[quote qtext=”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.” qperson=”” qsource=”” qposition=”center”]

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.

  • Jack Hoffman

    Then why bother putting a battery of the size that’s in the new Droid MAXX???

    I’ll still buy it, but I’m calling shenanigans…

    • Nickan Fayyazi

      So the Droid Maxx can get 3 days of screen time? :)

      • Jack Hoffman


      • Joshua Hill

        Maybe, it’ll probably only be 2 with the optimisations and bigger battery but we’ll see.

        • Nickan Fayyazi

          I was joking :)

          That would be amazing if it got even 24 hours of screen time.

          • Joshua Hill

            Yeah and a lot of misinformation comes from comments sections. Now hopefully that won’t happen in this case.

  • MasterMuffin

    That’s how they can promise 48 hours of usage on Droid MAXX even though the battery didn’t grow that much! Though it’s most likely that LG will make Nexus 5, I’m still hoping for a big battery in it and maybe optimizations like these in KLP

  • Thanks for the update.

  • James J. Brown II

    Stuck somewhere between the MAXX and the X… Guess it will come down to the test drive.

    • DonGoncalves

      Same here… looking to compare/contrast the MAXX and the X

  • Jean-Claude

    Motorola certainly doing things right this year… I’m definitely buying the Moto X because of what they are doing… hope they succeed.

  • Andrew T Roach

    This is the right way Moto! Software optimization trumps beefy hardware. Apple has been doing it right for years already.

    • Cao Meo

      But this is not easy, I think Motorola can do it because it’s a Google company and has all Google’s expertise on Android.

      • Joshua Hill

        But wait I thought you wanted an 8 core CPU or it wasn’t powerful enough!

        • Cao Meo

          haha, sure why not. one thing does not exclude the other.

          8 core with clever implementation is just great. Next time surely I expect Motorola will use X12 or X16, not X8 :)

          • Joshua Hill

            So long as you don’t care about battery life.

          • Cao Meo

            You know that mobile software is still nowhere nearly as powerful as PC and there’s should be a lot of improvement.

            As things stand now we may not need it, but there will be something called “progress”.

          • Joshua Hill

            I’m just waiting for this thing you call “progress” to happen with your understanding of technology.

          • Cao Meo

            According to your argument that apps can use only 2 cores, so are 4 cores excessive?

          • Joshua Hill

            Cut and paste my response from another website where we’re having the same discussion:

            ‘No, that’s not what I said. 2 cores are enough because you can run more than one process per core provided those processes don’t need more than 100% utilisation of a cpu core. Apart from applications that you wouldn’t be multitasking with while running anyway I can’t think of any apps that need 100% utilisation of a single core. By spreading applications across multiple cores while multitasking you are using only a fraction of each cores potential but usually (depends on power gating technologies within the cpu cores, caches, e.t.c.) consuming more power than using fewer cores but utilising them more.

            Example: 5 processes running that require approximately 20% of a single cores utilisation. You could use one core at approx. 100% and have others switched off and use much less battery than having 5 cores powered up but only running at 20% utilisation each.’

          • Cao Meo

            What you say is right that 2 cores are not as efficient as 1 core twice as powerful when all 2 cores run, but the other side of the coin is 2 cores give you greater flexibility and you can turn 1 core off if you don’t need it.

            2 cores are enough for Apple and WP but not Android with its emphasis on multitasking where a lot of threads can run simultaneously.

          • Joshua Hill

            You’re the one who mentioned Android being limited to 2 cores per app (back in the original AA article on Mediatek’s 8 core cpu). I don’t even think that’s true, it was certainly never something I mentioned or “(my) argument” as you keep trying to say.

          • Cao Meo

            I did not say that because I was not even aware of that.

            What I know is until you don’t know what Mediatek do with the 8 cores, you can’t say what their design is bad.

            1 thing you forget is A7 is low on power and not powerful. so 8 A7 cores do not seem a lot to me.

          • Joshua Hill

            I never said that Mediatek’s design is bad. I said 8 core cpus for phones in general are overkill.
            Your a nob. I’m not sure if your deliberately trying to be stupid and then misrepresent me but I’ve stated the facts across 3 different articles on 2 different sites. The truth is there for others to see. Your either exceedingly dumb (in which case, no offence, I have tried to explain the concepts to you but I can’t invest any more time or energy in trying to help educate you) or a TROLL in which case you can rot in hell.

            Over and out :)

          • Joshua Hill

            We’ve yet to see any real “progress” with battery life for these devices but hey let’s keep chucking more power guzzling cores than aren’t needed at them. That’s “progress”… NOT!

  • Cao Meo

    I hope motorola will lincense the design to other Android OEMs and push Android forward.

    • ddpacino


  • Alu Zeros

    We’ll see