Gigaom reported last week on Texas Instruments waxing lyrical about multicore mobiles. According to the article, a mobile phone ‘that uses identical computing cores working in parallel inside the application processor, a setup it calls symmetric multicore processing, will be here as soon as 2011.’
My first thought: that’s a long time. After all, the cores are there, the samples are probably around already – why the delay?
But let’s think about it. What could I ever need to do on my phone that required that level of processing power? The most feature-rich new smartphones don’t need that – my iPhone does pretty well without it too and it has far more functionality than I really need or use. Sure, phones will be coming closer to MIDs and netbooks over time – enter the whole device convergence argument – but MIDs are currently using single core CPUs such as Intel’s Atom.
Considering the above, I can understand why Gigaomwas surprised by TI’s bold statement. Mobile operators have been trying for years to get us all to lap up additional applications and services with limited success – even now, who uses mobile TV? But take a funky, functional handset from Apple and suddenly people can’t get enough of value-added apps and services. That was only a couple of years ago and demand has grown exponentially for app-friendly phones, and subsequently processor power that won’t drain the battery in a matter of minutes.
This brought me onto thinking about Intel’s big deal with Nokia to ‘develop a new class of Intel Architecture-based mobile computing device and chipset architectures which will combine the performance of powerful computers with high-bandwidth mobile broadband communications and ubiquitous Internet connectivity.’ Sounds grand.
Ultimately, this type of announcement signals that the market is hot. Demand for a super smartphone with the kind of processor horsepower that can support business-friendly functionality such as unified communications interfaces, consumer stuff like advanced gaming, TV and video playback (yes, maybe someday people will watch TV on their phones) is obviously set to grow. I for one would be keen to get my hands on an Intel quad core handset – that’s the kind of geek I am.
So, what will the multicore phone look like in 2011? Will it really take advantage of its capabilities and more importantly, will the user, therefore justifying what will probably be a higher price point than your average phone user is happy to pay? Time will tell, but I’m looking forward to one seriously effective phone…