Motorola’s X8 Mobile Computing System packs eight cores, one for language processing, one for contextual computing [Update]

by: Chris SmithJuly 23, 2013

Motorola X Phone Ad

During the Verizon media event in which the new Droid models were introduced, Motorola officials mentioned for the first time ever the company’s own system-on-chip architecture, the eight-core X8 Mobile Computing System that will be found inside all the new Droids.

Motorola on Tuesday unveiled three new handsets including the Droid Ultra, Droid Maxx and Droid Mini, all of them apparently using the same X8 SoC.

The interesting thing is that the new SoC will have a regular chip for “regular” smartphone duties, but also dedicated new chips that will be in charge of specific features including language processing and contextual computing. It looks like these two particular features are very important for Google, as they’ll be found not only on the three new Droid models hitting Verizon soon, but also on the Moto X.

According to the Motorola presentation, the X8 will have a dual-core processor, a quad-core graphics processing unit, a single-core contextual computing processor and a single-core natural language processor.

The dedicated language processing core will most likely take care of all the voice-related features of the new phones. Called “Touchless Control,” the feature will allow users to interact with the either model of the new Droids by using their voice.

Motorola’s X8 Mobile Computing System

Motorola X8 Mobile Computing System | Image credit: The Verge

By saying the “Ok Google Now” hotword followed by the appropriate command, users will be able to make calls, send texts, look for directions, find their misplaced phone, play music, without actually unlocking the phone. We’ve sort-of seen the feature in action already on that leaked Rogers Moto X video.

The contextual computing processor will handle at least one new feature, activating the camera of the phones. Users will have to shake the phone twice to get to quickly access the camera, although not much else is described yet. The same feature was also demoed in the Rogers Moto X video.

While Motorola did not specify how fast the X8 processor is, it did say that it’s 24% faster and that the GPU is 100% faster, presumably when compared to the CPU and GPU of the current Droid models.

[Update:] Taylor Wimberly shared more details about the new Motorola X8 processor:

“A mobile computing system powers the new Motorola devices, as opposed to a standard application processor chip found in every smartphone. This involves eight tightly integrated processors, special algorithms, and sensors. No one except Motorola could create this system. The result is a consumer experience like no other. Below is what it entails and see the next section for what it enables:

  • Four powerful graphics processors each running at 400 MHz delivering 3.2 million pixel fill rate,16 shader units, 512kb dedicated cached memory and running the Egypt performance benchmark at a blazing 155 frames per second (FPS). Fully compliant with Android Project Butter.
  • Two ultra fast application processors each running at 1.7 GHz, 28nm low-­power technology, high‐speed dual-­channel DDR RAM running at 533 MHz.
  • One local natural language processor (L‐NLP). Motorola proprietary low‐power specialized processor with audio sensors, noise estimators, noise cancellation, and speech recognition technology to enable always-on voice based user interaction without sacrificing battery life.
  • One contextual computing processor (CCP). Motorola proprietary low-power specialized processor that computes contextual data from sensors enabling intelligent mobile computing and always-on display mode.

Our main chipset has two CPUs and quad GPUs. We have added two additional low­‐power processors (Contextual Processor, Natural Language Processor) in our system design. So we are not saying we have an octa-­core chip, but we have an octa-­core Mobile Computing System. Silicon vendors only like to talk about dual versus quad core main CPUs because that is how they are priced. We have to brand and market our system as opposed to a chip.

Our approach is completely different. We have built a custom system around the application processor. For example, the new Motorola devices do not use the battery hungry application processor to do always on audio or display. We have custom designed our system to deliver great experiences without killing the battery. We have built the first true mobile computing system.”

[Update 2:] Brian Klug from AnandTech has apparently confirmed via Twitter that Motorola’s X8 is actually based on a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor:

  • Victor V.

    hmm it’s mind boggling how quickly smartphone technology is progressing. I’m not just referring to specs, but how certain technologies have made smartphones more intuitive to use. How they have become more deeply entwined/immersed in our daily lives. For better or worst.

  • Jacob Buys

    Wait whats the point of the moto X then? a less powerful version with worse specs across the board :/

    • maxx1987

      would you rather pay $600 or $300? i do believe the x will have this same computing setup

      • xtrivis

        But they already said 2 core and the specs are less, but if it is an international varrient I’m hooked

        • Nate J

          The new droid phones have the same processor. It is a dual core phone. They are explaining all the other cores in it to try and one-up the competition. These phones are not octo-core phones. Read the complete article please before you start whining.

    • S2556

      how is it less powerful?
      The moto X is their global device.
      These are just on verizon and for likely twice the price. Also these aren’t assembled in the USA.

  • Peter Frazier

    moving towards optimized specialized chips will really increase battery life.. this is the beginning.. wait a year or two and see what really cool stuff comes out..

    • Victor V.

      Yea I definitely see this as being a huge leap in technology . A lot bigger leap than just increasing the number of cores in a cpu or increasing the clock speed. I’m really excited to see how these technologies pan out, and some of the novel uses that I know app developers will come up with.

  • GadgetsDome


  • Let’s hope we get the 8 core chip in the US. We have a habit of getting screwed when new tech comes out.

    • FritoDorito

      This chip was announced in the new line of DROID phones. I think it’s a safe bet to assume that a Verizon exclusive line of DROID phones will make it to the US.

      • I was just thinking about the US/UK Galaxy S4 having a quad-core instead of an octo-core.

        • FritoDorito

          Right, but the S4 was not announced to have the Exynos Octa in the US. I don’t think they even mentioned the processor in their little Broadway announcement. Samsung’s chips always seem to have supply issues and often even, disagreements, with LTE.

  • MasterMuffin

    Now they can market it as octa core processor :D I don’t like the idea of a chip that is always listening, but who would want to spy on what I talk?

    • FritoDorito

      The way this chip works is that it only listens for the exact programmed sound; it can’t do anything with any other noise it hears. I don’t think it can really decipher everything you say, because if it did, I would assume it would destroy the battery.

      • MasterMuffin

        But it could listen to everything that I say and send it forward, but it won’t (right, NSA?)

        • FritoDorito

          That would imply that the chip is deciphering everything you say and is constantly sending data. Again, very, very bad for battery life. That would kill battery in hours. This whole NSA spying craze is complete stupidity. The phone you have NOW already has a microphone. The NSA wouldn’t need a special chip to record everything you say, there’s already a mic. Most phones today also have a front facing camera. OMG! They could easily be recording everything you do! And aren’t ALL text messages saved in a database by your carrier? If you didn’t know that, you do now. Face it, you have no privacy in this world. The NSA gains nothing from spying on random people, so they won’t do it. They spy on terrorists, people who they have reason to believe are plotting evil, illegal things. You’re right, they don’t give one shit about what you tell your buddies.

          • MasterMuffin

            calm down, the NSA thing was just a joke. I already said they won’t listen to everything you say anyways and yes, there’s no digital privacy in this world

  • SladeNoctis

    Sounds like a dual core S4 Pro proccessor. or maybe intel processor. Anyway impressive specs especially killing off the stupid notion that “mini” devices should have inferior specs compared to the flagship models. I

  • Leonardo Rojas

    Good at last a mobile system properly made. I’d buy this over the SGS4 which seems to me that has just lost its throne of the most feature filled smartphone.

    How sad it will only be available in the US and carrier tied.

    • Rabid Rotty

      The new “droid” line up is not US or carrier specific.

      • Leonardo Rojas

        Are you sure? I live in Peru. I’m getting tired of waiting for the Lenovo K900 and thought this Droid line could make it to my country even first.
        Actually, these new features, are not that appealing o.O I still want the K900 u.u

        • Rabid Rotty

          I’m in Canada and Rogers is getting the X also ahigh up insider beer buddy told me that Rogers will be getting 2 of the new droids. As for Peru? I’m not to sure.

  • valent

    they should add a dedicated Security Processor,
    probably like Cell BE secure processing vault.

    it’s a shame that in these day phone company still think security as an afterthought, especially for motorola that known to produce secure smartphone in past.

    • perfectlyreasonabletoo

      Most mobile CPUs have cryptography units and other security features like that.

  • Moku

    Honestly, I believe this should be a wake-up call to everyone in the mobile industry. If this ends up working out, then I think that Qualcomm/Nvidia should take a page from this processor strategy. Never even thought of this, but at this point, sounds like it’d be better in real-life usage than some overpowered Snapdragon 800. Probably good on the battery too. I know it won’t happen, but I’d like to see the Moto X with this processor.

  • Bobby Wright

    Pure genius. Hello Moto.

  • Graham

    Yes! Finally, a real pocket supercomputer. I cant wait to get my hands on one :-)

  • EddieA

    Righteous and innovative!