There’s no love lost between Intel & ARM. Back in January, Intel made the headlines when it unveiled its first mass market smartphone at CES 2012 and announced a “multi-year, multi-device” strategic partnership with Motorola Mobility around smartphones and tablets. Back then, Intel claimed that its Medfield processors will run Android better than ARM. As expected, ARM dismissed the threat saying it isn’t afraid of Intel.
And now, the two chip giants are back at it again. Though Intel is new to the Android scene, it claims that Android simply isn’t ready for multi-core processors (read ARM), in fact, multi-core chips are a ‘detriment‘ to Android’s performance.
With all due respect to Intel, it better match words with some concrete evidence. After all, its own performance in the smartphone segment till date has been rather ordinary. In April, the company launched its first Android smartphone – the Xolo X900, a “mid-tier” Android 2.3 device with a 1024×600 display. However, the device is already being widely projected as a failure of expectations.
Mike Bell, general manager of Intel’s Mobile and Communications Group, reportedly told The Inquirer that system-on-chip (SoC) vendors have not done enough to optimize Android for multi-core processors. He claims that Intel’ testing found single core processors running faster than some dual core processors. The reason, he says, is that Android’s thread scheduler, isn’t keeping pace with the extra processing and therefore it’s not suited for multicore processors.
Though Intel didn’t reveal what processor was tested, what device, or how exactly it tested the processor, the reference to ARM is obvious.
“If you are in a non-power constrained case, I think multiple cores make a lot of sense because you can run the cores full out, you can actually heavily load them and/or if the operating system has a good thread scheduler. A lot of stuff we are dealing with, thread scheduling and thread affinity, isn’t there yet and on top of that, largely when the operating system goes to do a single task, a lot of other stuff stops. So as we [Intel] move to multiple cores, we’re actually putting a lot of investment into software to fix the scheduler and fix the threading so if we do multi-core products it actually takes advantage of it,” he said.
Intel has always claimed despite being a single core processor, its Medfield Atom processor has the same capabilities as multi core equivalents with Hyperthreading technology. The company says it does not a multi-core Atom processor on its roadmap, at least for now.