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

July 23, 2013
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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:

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