When asked about their development of octo-core processors at MWC both Qualcomm and MediaTek seemed to shrug off the issue, simply stating that they don’t see any real consumer demand for an eight core behemoth. Octo-core processors don’t appear on the product road maps for either company, so Samsung looks to be the only manufacturer planning to put an eight core chip on the market, at least for the foreseeable future.
But with many consumers seemingly more interested in product pricing, battery life, and less intensive CPU tasks like watching videos and browsing the web, than blitzing out 1080p games and CAD design, you can understand why the two tech companies are hesitant to expend resources on designing a balanced eight core CPU. Many of the best selling tablets are still dual core devices, and top of the line smartphones have only just leapt up to quad cores. So if you ask me Qualcomm and MediaTek are reading consumer appetites pretty spot on.
As well as just consumer demand, Qualcomm was especially concerned that simply moving to eight cores isn’t going to improve the user experience. As many applications and operating systems are coded for four cores at most, it clearly doesn’t see a situation where eight cores are going to be useful, and I for one agree.
So then isn’t Samsung wrong to branch out into eight core territory with its Exynos 5 Octa? Well not exactly, Samsung is looking at eight core chips from an energy efficiency perspective, balancing peak performance with minimal battery consumption on less intensive tasks. Check out the MWC demo if you want to see what this looks like in practice.
Bedsides, the two companies are operating on slightly different design philosophies to Samsung. Qualcomm’s Krait CPUs are already designed to be energy efficient by working asymmetrically, and MediaTek products are aimed at slightly lower spec and more energy conservative devices anyway. So neither company would benefit much by moving over to a similar architecture to big.LITTLE.
We’ll have to wait and see which design choices pay off over the next year, bring on the 2013 processor war.