SUMMARY: Qualcomm is hoping to prove that eight cores are not always better than four, with a short clip comparing its latest quad-core Snapdragon processor to the octa-core competition.
The processor wars are heating up. While Qualcomm has had its chips in most major new smartphones for a while now, MediaTek has been trying to catch up, announcing the first true octa-core processor last month. Apparently Qualcomm isnâ€™t impressed, and released a video to show exactly what it thinks of MediaTekâ€™s next-generation tech. Check it out in the clip below.
You might have noticed that MediaTek is never actually mentioned in the video, but the color scheme and font Qualcomm uses in the text for â€œour competitorâ€ makes things pretty clear.
So why is Qualcomm going after MediaTek in this video instead of, say, Samsung? If you recall, just last month MediaTek announced the first true octa-core processor. I know what youâ€™re thinking â€” Samsung already has one those. But Samsungâ€™s octa-core Exynos chip can only activate half of its cores at once, while the new MediaTek chips can run all eight simultaneously, which is what makes it a â€œtrueâ€ octa-core.
Now, according to Qualcomm, each generation it rebuilds its cores to improve performance, which has made for a 170 percent increase from its first single-core Snapdragon processor to its latest quad-core Snapdragon 800. The competition (MediaTek), meanwhile, continues to use the same Cortex-A7 architecture each time, and is merely increasing the number of cores. And according to Qualcomm, of the top 20 apps in China, 85 percent are using two cores at most. The other 15 percent, meanwhile, â€œbarely touch the rest.â€ So by this logic, youâ€™re better off with less cores that are better built than a bunch of lesser cores that largely go unused.
To illustrate how this works, Qualcomm breaks out a Guitar Hero-inspired demonstration, showing the dramatic difference in performance between its first-generation processor and where it is today. In it the graphics are detailed and moving along at a rapid clip. Then to illustrate the competition, Qualcomm slows the demonstration down, drops the graphical detail, and adds four additional lanes that go unused. Itâ€™s a pretty striking difference.
Keep in mind this video comes from Qualcomm, so itâ€™s not like youâ€™re seeing a real-world comparison in power between the two chips. But itâ€™s pretty fun to watch, and a rather bold statement.
This doesnâ€™t mean that all hope is lost for MediaTek. Earlier this month popular benchmarking app AnTuTu released data showing Samsungâ€™s octa-core Exynos processor coming in at the head of the race, just above Qualcommâ€™s quad-core Snapdragon 600 chip. And while it may have won by just a hair, the octa-core processor did indeed come out on top. So itâ€™ll be an interesting battle, but weâ€™ll have to wait to until we can test the finished products before a true winner can be determined.
For more from Qualcomm, Rob Chandhok, president of Qualcomm Internet Services and senior vice president of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. will lead a discussion on the Internet of Everything at Mobilize, October 16th in San Francisco.
GIGAOM / Alex Colon