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48-Core Chips Could Redefine Mobile Devices

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the absolute-power dept.

Intel 285

CWmike writes "Intel researchers are working on a 48-core processor for smartphones and tablets, but it could be five to 10 years before it hits the market. Having a 48-core chip in a small mobile device would open up a whole new world of possibilities. 'If we're going to have this technology in five to 10 years, we could finally do things that take way too much processing power today,' said analyst Patrick Moorhead. 'This could really open up our concept of what is a computer... The phone would be smart enough to not just be a computer but it could be my computer.' Enric Herrero, a research scientist at Intel Labs in Barcelona, explained that with the prototype chip someone could, for instance, be encrypting an email while also working on other power-intensive apps at the same time — without hiccups. Same for HD video. Intel's Tanausu Ramirez said it could also boost battery life. 'The chip also can take the energy and split it up and distribute it between different applications,' he said. Justin Rattner, Intel's CTO, told Computerworld that a 48-core chip for small mobile devices could hit the market 'much sooner' than the researchers' 10-year prediction."

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Desktop (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819239)

Let's put a 48-core processor on a desktop or laptop before we talk about tablets or phones...

Re:Desktop (4, Interesting)

tom17 (659054) | about 2 years ago | (#41819345)

Why not concentrate on tablets and phones first?

1. They are the fastest growing segment and "everyone will have one"
2. This will then be your primary computing device that follows you around. It's with you when you need it, because...
3. It's easier to use a fully mobile device as a workstation device (just add a keyboard/monitor and fashionable pointing device) than it is to use a workstation device as a pocket computer.
4. Power savings from this kind of architecture are more critical on pocket devices
5. ...
6. PROFIT! (Sorry)

I think it's a good way forwards. But that's just opinion so...

Re:Desktop (5, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about 2 years ago | (#41819483)

Because desktops have one less criteria to meet than tablets and phones - they don't have nearly as small of a power envelope.

The desktop, therefore could be seen as a logical step in the progression to getting it on the phone/tablet.

Re:Desktop (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819583)

And I don't want my 48-core machine to be fucking mobile. It means I would then be expected to take my work everywhere with me. Fuck that. Until we learn how to respect the sanctity of vacation time in the US and bring up the average vacation length for workers to something near European standard I would rather see this in a non-mobile version first.

Re:Desktop (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819663)

I guess it works for me as I can easily separate my working life from my personal life (Yes, I live in North America but I derived my only-work-at-work mentality from the other side of the pond).

Re:Desktop (5, Interesting)

jonadab (583620) | about 2 years ago | (#41819715)

> Why not concentrate on tablets and phones first?

Because people expect significantly more from desktops than from phones.

The article says this:
> The phone would be smart enough to not just be a computer but it could be my computer.

That would make any sense at all if, in addition to processing power, the phone also had multiple gigabytes of primary memory and could utilize multiple peripherals for input (keyboard, mouse, etc) and output (monitors, printers, speaker systems), store hundreds of gigabytes of data, connect to multiple networks (including high-speed wired ones), and run desktop applications.

Traditionally, even the smartest phones aren't expected to do any of that. It isn't mostly the processing power that's holding them back.

Re:Desktop (5, Insightful)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 2 years ago | (#41819741)

This will then be your primary computing device that follows you around.

This will then be your primary computing device that:

A) you leave on the roof of your car.
B) gets dropped in the toilet.
C) you spill your beverage on.
D) gets chewed up by your dog.
E) you get mugged for.
F) you leave in your hotel room.
G) you have confiscated by the authorities (should you find yourself at the wrong place/time)
H) gets reverse-engineered/stress-tested by your toddler

Shall I continue? Seriously; fuck all this smartphone nonsense; give me a borderline-disposable Nokia 2600-series and I'll happily call it a day! :p

Re:Desktop (1)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | about 2 years ago | (#41820001)

When they said ``computing device that follows you around,'' they might've meant as ``your own personal terminator, follows you around and protects you'' :-)

Re:Desktop (2)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#41819347)

I'm pretty sure that's kind of the plan here. A single device that's powerful enough to replace what we have today. You can put it on your desktop if you want, or slip it into your pocket.

Re:Desktop (2, Insightful)

Lord Lode (1290856) | about 2 years ago | (#41819379)

Fully agree:

5 years ago, the top of the line Intel consumer desktop CPU's had 4 cores.
today, the top of the line Intel consumer desktop CPU's have 4 cores.

So, get to it please! :)

Re:Desktop (2)

CajunArson (465943) | about 2 years ago | (#41819433)

No... 5 years ago the top of the line *mobile* CPUs had 2 cores.
Today the top of the line mobile CPUs have 4 much more powerful cores.
It turns out that the mobile CPUs are now used on most desktops too, but there are still more powerful desktop CPUs.

If, however, you want the top of the line *desktop* CPU, the 3930K has 6 cores and wipes the floor with any quad core CPU in existence... assuming you are running software that can actually take advantage of all those cores. Since a whole lot of even "multithreaded" software cannot do so, you are basically not having to pay for unneeded silicon and power by getting a quad-core CPU.

Re:Desktop (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about 2 years ago | (#41819537)

Also, IRRC, weren't the quad core desktop CPUs from 4 years ago hyperthreaded, meaning 2 physical and 2 logical? That would make example, by comparison, a 12 core, as I believe Intel has sadly gone back to hyperthreading their CPUs.

Re:Desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819635)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kentsfield_%28microprocessor%29

6 years ago was the first true 4 core Intel CPU for desktops.

Re:Desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819703)

I'm AC parent. So that was 2 dual core chips packaged together (not hyperthreaded.)

2008-11-17 was the core i7, which may have been 4 cores on 1 silicon die, I don't really know.

Re:Desktop (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | about 2 years ago | (#41819925)

The 3930K seems the one exception, but it's Sandy Bridge, and LGA 2011 chipset is borderline consumer! For Ivy Bridge, the newer architecture, it only goes up to 4 cores. And for the next architecture, Haswell, not even released yet, Wikipedia has the following feature to say: "Mainstream up to quad-core.".

I'm curious why Intel went from 1 core to 4 cores in a short period of time, and then remains stuck at 4 cores for more than half a decade.

Re:Desktop (1)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about 2 years ago | (#41819933)

Your top of the line must be different than mine.

Everyone always says that Apple makes consumer electronics, yet they have a 12-core Mac Pro that they've been selling for 2+ years now...

Re:Desktop (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 years ago | (#41820005)

today, the top of the line Intel consumer desktop CPU's have 4 cores.

More like 6. And the LGA2011 platform is also nice if for some reason you need 64GB (8x8GB) of RAM. The real issue for Intel is that most of things that "enthusiasts" care about don't scale that well. Sure, there's always people that need 3D rendering or whatever that could scale to 8+ cores easily, but they're more the "workstation" market. You're much more likely to find enthusiasts with a 3770K overclocked to 4-5 GHz and a few 2000+ MHz sticks of RAM than anything the LGA2011 offers. It's been that way since Sandy Bridge and I don't think it's going to change any time soon. Intel has absolutely zero competition either so I'm guessing IVB-E will be a huge disappointment when it finally arrives sometime after Haswell's release.

Re:Desktop (1)

wooferhound (546132) | about 2 years ago | (#41820113)

640 cores should be enough for anybody

Re:Desktop (4, Informative)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 2 years ago | (#41819395)

Any desktop with a decent GPU has more than that already.

But the difference between a desktop and a phone makes it harder to get good performance on the desktop with many cores - it's memory bandwidth that's the bottleneck. On a phone you can dedicate cores to certain well-defined tasks and optimize them for that.

Re:Desktop (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 2 years ago | (#41819797)

Programming for the GPU is also trickier - it's a specialised task, and so hiring a programmer experienced in the field is going to be a bit trickier and more expensive than hiring a programmer who can work with general-purpose processors.

Re:Desktop (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819541)

Let's put a 48-core processor on a desktop or laptop before we talk about tablets or phones...

Because once you have a mobile chip, putting it in a desktop is easy.
The reverse is generally impossible.

And mobile is where the growth (and money) is now. Focus on a stagnant market like the desktop, and you'll very quickly get run over by competitors whose heads aren't in the sand.

Focusing on the low end, high-volume market is how the pathetic little 16-bit x86 grew up to beat Motorola in the '80s and the RISC vendors in the '90s (and, for that matter, Itanium.) It's easier for the small to scale up than the big to scale down.

Re:Desktop (1)

Jamu (852752) | about 2 years ago | (#41819749)

You probably already have that many. Except they're in your graphics card.

Re:Desktop (1)

Cyko_01 (1092499) | about 2 years ago | (#41819751)

No point. Windows/microsoft doesn't have a clue how to harness and use that many cores anyways

Re:Desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819879)

My desktop has 64 cores you insensitive clod.

Re:Desktop (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about 2 years ago | (#41820023)

...explained that with the prototype chip someone could, for instance, be encrypting an email while also working on other power-intensive apps at the same time — without hiccups. Same for HD video.

It sounds to me like the LG Optimus G [engadget.com] is already there with its quad-core Snapdragon.

I just played with one last week and I was quite amazed. The Optimus G really blew out of the water my Jellybeans Nexus 7 and my Jellybeans Galaxy Nexus with its super smooth UI and its HD video multi-tasking capabilities.

Re:Desktop (1)

angelbar (1823238) | about 2 years ago | (#41820055)

Nope.... We need "omnipresent" or "ghost" devices... accounts perhaps? a (trekkie here). With that kind of processing power we only need a system to send verbal and sign commands and receive data on augmented reality

excessive (2, Insightful)

fizzer06 (1500649) | about 2 years ago | (#41819243)

will it include a car battery?

Re:excessive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819349)

More cores (with better parallelism) should mean _less_ power consumption, if cores can be powered up and down as needed.

Re:excessive (1)

tom17 (659054) | about 2 years ago | (#41819501)

I think this way forward likely HELPS power usage if anything.

Let's take 2 power-equivalent processors. Both use 1W at the lowest non-idle power setting. Processor A is a 2 core model, B is a 48 core.

Each core on the 2 core model A uses approx 0.5W (ignoring overheads etc)
Each core on the 48 core model B uses approx 0.02W (ignoring overheads etc)
In this instance, it's likely that each of the model B cores will be one 24th as computationally powerful as a model A core.

If you have some trivial tasks (i.e. most stuff that is running when you are not doing heavy lifting) running, on model A they might use 1 core on it's lowest power setting of 0.5W.
That same trivial task on the 48 core model B might still only use 1 core which would then obviously greatly reduce the power usage. This would still work out as a power saving if it needed more than 1 model B core (anywhere up to around 15-20 cores depending on SMP overhead/efficiency)

Of course, this is only a generalisation, ignores overheads and will only help with processes that need significantly less than 1 core on a conventional 1/2/4 core architecture; which is most of the non-lifting workload of any CPU.

I think it's a good thing...

Re:excessive (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 years ago | (#41819895)

(ignoring overheads etc)

I think I found the problem with your assumptions. Ignoring overheads can get you into a lot of trouble in parallel computing.

Re:excessive (1)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | about 2 years ago | (#41820049)

That's not how those things scale, though. In your example, for you device to be borderline useable, you'd have to use about 18 cores, minimum, at most times. Assuming perfectly threaded software, inifnitely scalable. Sleep state is a different beast, but then you can simply put an extra low power core that takes over in such cases, like the Tegra 3. Consider there are tons of ARM clusters around. When power consumption is equal, a system with dozens of cores is incredibly inneficient against an Intel Core for any given workload. You don't even have to look at ARM, look at AMD's Bulldozer, here to prove that scalability isn't a magic bullet. Multiple cores are for big computational demands when frugality isn't that big a deal.

48 cores on a mobile device (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819249)

And a battery life of four fifths of a second!

Before we know it we will be at 640 cores (4, Funny)

tom17 (659054) | about 2 years ago | (#41819251)

And we can stop then because, well, you know, 640 cores should be enough for anyone.

Re:Before we know it we will be at 640 cores (3, Funny)

robthebloke (1308483) | about 2 years ago | (#41819477)

Well, you could selotape together 640 Sinclair ZX81's, which would give you 640 Z80 cores, AND 640Kb RAM!!!! Combine that with 640 x 64 x 48 pixel displays, and 640 cassette tape interconnects, and you'd have far more computing power than anyone could ever need!

Re:Before we know it we will be at 640 cores (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819681)

Next up, Sinclair C5 NASCAR...

Hope they'll have a bio-neural interface (1)

CrowdedBrainzzzsand9 (2000224) | about 2 years ago | (#41819515)

Hope they'll have a bio-neural interface. I'll need one really bad by then.

Re:Before we know it we will be at 640 cores (5, Funny)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 2 years ago | (#41819619)

I was looking at my razor and thinking I should have more than 6 blades!

Re:Before we know it we will be at 640 cores (1)

Dogbertius (1333565) | about 2 years ago | (#41819911)

Well NOW there is!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4F7TMlrDXtw [youtube.com]

Spishak present the Mach20, to guarantee you the closest shave of your life!

This is just.... (1)

StrayEddy (2650271) | about 2 years ago | (#41819253)

overkill !

Re:This is just.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819431)

Overkill is underrated!

Re:This is just.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819489)

being underrated is overrated.

Re:This is just.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819849)

Yes. IMHO it's much better than Ace of Spades.

Re:This is just.... (1)

HeadBanger606 (2689703) | about 2 years ago | (#41820027)

Haha, had a genuine laugh at this. :D Was just going to make a similar reference.

What can't it do! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819267)

It can also julien fries and deep fry them while you play games and hd movies at the same time on your 2 inch screen!

Re:What can't it do! (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#41819335)

What it can't do is pass a charging station.

It's just Larrabee (4, Insightful)

Balial (39889) | about 2 years ago | (#41819277)

Keep floggin' that dead Larrabee horse, Intel.

Not exactly a unique idea... (1)

hattig (47930) | about 2 years ago | (#41819287)

Given that even today's mobile phone SoCs have dedicated hardware "cores" for encryption, video encoding and decoding, etc, this is only Intel trying to generalise the functionality back into the CPU - which is pretty much all Intel know - rather than the more suitable, lower power, dedicated function blocks that are but pinheads even on today's SoCs, never mind the 10nm SoCs in years to come.

Today's quad-core mobile phone SoC on 32nm could be a 16-core cluster-on-a-chip on 16nm, and 64-cores on 10nm.

Never mind the compute-assist on the GPUs in these SoCs - Exynos 5 is over 70 GFLOPS for example, and supports OpenCL 1.1. Never mind the 4K video decode/encode support...

Maybe...but not soon (4, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#41819293)

Sure, you could put the power of today's typical desktop in a phone with such a beast, but by then we should have desktop boxes with an order of magnitude more power than one - and we'll find a way to "need" that extra power on the desktop. It's not just about chip capability and battery life - I'm mean you can always plug in a phone and run it full power 24/7. But you start running up against the limits of thermal dissipation. It's no surprise that maximum TDP has not changed a whole lot on the desktop per processor. We're still limited by the ability to aircool a chip that's really a 130+/- watt heater. That won't change. Remember also that until you standardize a dock with a real video connector (or crazy fast wireless video - not this compressed crap we use for movies), you're still limited to that little tiny window on the portable device.

The biggest potential savings is if they can shut down 47 cores and run one thread at low power when I'm not "using" it so the battery lasts as long as possible.

Re:Maybe...but not soon (2)

david.given (6740) | about 2 years ago | (#41819731)

A while back I was working on site with a customer... a major featurephone manufacturer, who will remain nameless so as to protect the incompetent. We discovered that the phone would crash if our software ran the CPU flat-out, even if it was at a lower priority thread than anything else.

It turns out that the sorry excuse for an operating system this thing ran was doing system-critical tasks in the idle thread, so if the CPU didn't idle some message queues would overflow and the OS would reboot. When I asked if there was a way around this, the response was that it was deliberate because the hardware would overheat if the CPU ran continuously for more than about thirty seconds at a time.

(This OS, BTW, was such an epic failure that when it was cancelled the entire staff went with it... and so did the building.)

3 options, pick any 2. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819301)

Hmm. 48 cores. More processing power. Better battery life. And how large of a backpack will I need to transport those long-life batteries? Just trying to plan ahead.

Imagine a Beowulf cluster... (5, Funny)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 2 years ago | (#41819303)

had to be said.

Re:Imagine a Beowulf cluster... (1)

slim (1652) | about 2 years ago | (#41819363)

+1 Obligatory

Dirk Meyer's last words (5, Funny)

CajunArson (465943) | about 2 years ago | (#41819317)

Just before the AMD board executed him, Dirk Meyer screamed out: "MOAR COARZ!" And today we have Bulldozer.

The moral of the story is, MOAR != more all of the time. Especially in a freakin' cellphone, where, despite what some Slashdotters think, the primary use case is *not* performing massively parallel scientific simulations.

Architecture? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819319)

Probably all x86 cores too.
Oh the poor suffering batteries (and us poor users who will need a wheelbarrow for them.)

If only (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819337)

diminishing returns weren't such a big problem with multi-core processors. The speed of most applications will still be limited by how fast a single core can do work, to say nothing of relatively slow I/O.

And programmers will take 40 years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819339)

This will hit the market, and all phones will seem much slower for many years, as too many developers think in terms of single-threaded code.

This thing will purr along, saturated at 2.08% CPU usage most of the time.

10 years? (3, Informative)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 2 years ago | (#41819367)

Hah! The Parallela Kickstarter project was from a group that already had a 64 core CPU that consumed only a watt or 4 of power when running full-tilt. If this takes Intel 10 years to design they'll be left in the dust.

BTW, they wanted the money to fund developing the mask for the Fab technique needed to mass produce them for $100 apiece instead of the few hundred apiece they now cost to manufacture. The chips already exist.

Re:10 years? (4, Informative)

nanodroid (116613) | about 2 years ago | (#41819717)

Context:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/adapteva/parallella-a-supercomputer-for-everyone

Re:10 years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819893)

It's not a 64-core CPU, it's a floating-point processor. The basic Parallela model comes with a 2-core ARM CPU.

Re:10 years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819999)

It is speculated [venturebeat.com] that the CPU and GPU in an iPhone has a TDP of 0.8 watts (that's at full load). If the Parallela device uses 1 watt when it idling doesn't bode well for mobile applications.

And in 20 to 30 years... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819373)

We could have 128 core chips. It will open up a whole new world of possibilities.

Re:And in 20 to 30 years... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819563)

Yeah, you'll be able to run 128 instances of Angry Birds! No wonder you're excited!

My Computer? (1)

superdave80 (1226592) | about 2 years ago | (#41819375)

The phone would be smart enough to not just be a computer but it could be my computer.

Anyone have a clue what he means by "my computer"? All the computers I currently own and use are my computer already.

I think as in Star Trek computer (2)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 2 years ago | (#41819931)

Currently your PC is a rather dumb tool, a useful tool but dumb. The fantasy is that stuff like Siri makes computers actually useful other then for finding cat pictures. Because outside work related coding and some gaming, I don't use my PC for much that other devices couldn't also do. Yes, I watch movies on it but I can watch movies on a projector if they still sell them. I can play music on a wax cylinder.

Yes, there are some small advantages but not nearly as many as you would like.

Play romantic music computer... no not the safety dance... yes dancing is romantic but not the safety dance.

Really, try to get a computer to do something as simple as understand mood and play the right music. That is what a MY computer could do, I think. Be more then a tool but an actual help. Not just enable me to with effort get things done (make manual playlist with the right mood music, then select play music when I am in the mood) but actually do stuff for me.

But I don't see how more cores could help. Big Blue got cores coming out its nose and it can't make a playlist based on my mood anymore then a C64 could.

48 Cores? (5, Informative)

QuantumHack (58048) | about 2 years ago | (#41819377)

Not useful without a serious change in computer architecture.

Amdahl's law [wikipedia.org] . It's a bitch, baby.

Been there, done that? (4, Informative)

bradley13 (1118935) | about 2 years ago | (#41819391)

Haven't we already been here? When multi-core processors first became widely available, I recall a study that showed that anything over 8 cores was counterproductive. First, very few people have enough background stuff running to need more processing power than that. Second, coordinating multi-tasking on multiple cores requires a lot of complex work by the operating system, unless you just dedicate one to each process (not to each thread - that opens up problems with cache and data consistency). The benchmarks on desktop computers showed that adding more than 8 cores to a general purpose system actually slowed the system down due to added OS overhead.

About the only way this many cores can be useful is for graphics processing (or, in TFA, video processing): many simple cores work in parallel for the same process, on different parts of the same data. This, of course, is what graphics chips already do for a living.

Already here, kinda (4, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#41819397)

Modern phones already have many, many cores in them. They are just not general purpose cores available for use by the OS or applications.

For example the radios in phones are software defined, meaning they have an RF front end that just feeds the signal to a dedicated signal processing core to do decoding. They have at least one for the mobile network radio, one for WiFi, one for Bluetooth, one for NFC, one for GPS. The audio codec will have a signal processor that can do mixing, digital filtering and parametric equalization. The cameras will each have processors to handle some image processing before the data is handed to the main CPU.

You could combine all these cores into a single CPU, and then you would have the advantage of being able to use them for other things when they are not busy handling the aforementioned hardware. The problem is that these more general purpose cores tend to use a lot more power than dedicated ones designed specifically for one application, but presumably Intel things it will get the power budget down to something acceptable in 10 years time (or batteries will get a lot better).

cores are the new Ghz (2)

banbeans (122547) | about 2 years ago | (#41819407)

Want to impress the pointy heads talk about more cores.
Throwing more cores is not the solution to all problems and actually opens up a whole bunch of new ones.
I wish that more attention would be spent to solve real problems rather than trying to be buzzword compliant.

Re:cores are the new Ghz (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819453)

My chip has more Gigahertz than yours has cores!

More cores != more power & efficiency unless.. (1)

DontBlameCanada (1325547) | about 2 years ago | (#41819437)

The O/S supports the additional resources. Who has am O/S today that has a proven roadmap to get there?

Re:More cores != more power & efficiency unles (1)

Cyko_01 (1092499) | about 2 years ago | (#41819919)

My money is on linux/android

Ad-Driven Information (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819447)

Am I the only one who doesn't find "ad-driven information" to be a compelling reason for me to purchase a 48-core cell phone?

not with today's coding methodology (4, Interesting)

Speare (84249) | about 2 years ago | (#41819459)

Until you revise the whole way people write software, adding cores is useful to a very limited point. Today's software can be split at one core per thread, or one core per process. If you try to get two cores to work on the same thread, you just increase serial contention, not decrease it.

Even thread-happy Java is only working on maybe 3-5 threads at a time, the rest are sleeping until a device wakes it, or until a certain time has elapsed. A new compiler may be able to help a little bit, but it's just going to be creating very short-lived micro-threads when it detects those few opportunities for them.

Graphics hardware is great for many parallel cores, because it's the same tight problem with different data, endlessly repeated. Multiply these 4x4s please. Fill these pixels please. Endlessly. Same goes for encryption, and maybe a few bits of video game AI logic. Not many other software naturally fits to using many cores.

What about battery power? (1)

who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) | about 2 years ago | (#41819479)

unless there is some breakthrough in battery life in the next 5-10 years, having a 48 core cpu run on a mobile device for 5 minutes before depleting is worthless.

Hammer in Search of Nails (1)

Revotron (1115029) | about 2 years ago | (#41819485)

Why does a cell phone need 48 processor cores? How about we force all the shitty mobile app developers to make shit work on one core before we throw 47 more at them to abuse with their terrible resource management skills.

Why does everyone sill refer to it as a phone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819487)

When 99% of its use are for things that are not associated with phones. People are starting to sound out of touch and archaic. Your phone will not also be your computer rather your computer will also be your phone. It's not 1999 anymore.

Nice heat sink! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819495)

Nice heat sink http://www.computerworld.com/common/images/site/features/2012/10/chip_508.jpg! Too bad the cell phone will no longer fit into my pocket...

Voice and video analysis (4, Interesting)

crow (16139) | about 2 years ago | (#41819535)

Current phones do just fine with HD video and multitasking. Sure, some may glitch occasionally, but more due to software design than lack of CPU. This will do little to nothing for the things we use our phones for today.

What it will enable is new classes of features, such as real-time video and voice processing. With that sort of CPU power, you can do voice recognition without sending the audio over the network for analysis. Who knows what people will think of doing for video analysis?

Though for the most part, the added cores will be powered down, doing nothing but putting a good bragging number on the spec sheet.

projected uses (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819585)

Core 1-12 : DRM
  - these cores will check all audio/video/ebook files for copyright infringement

Core 13-24 : TPM
  - these cores will implement TPM and secure the DRM portion

Core 25-37 : Genuine Advantage Checking
  - these coes will check that the system state is valid, and all license keys are valid and updated

Core 38-40 : Virus Checking
  - these cores will implement malware checks and virus checks

Core 41-47 : OS and Sandboxing/Security
- these cores will run the base os, and run all applications in sandbox mode

Core 48 : User Application
- this core will be available for running user applications in the performance reduced sandbox mode. Priority is given to cores 1-47, in order of decreasing priority.

We have that power now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819601)

If you can encode video or encrypt an email (encryption/decryption typically isn't that computationally tough), on a current smartphone, why wouldn't the most recent 2 or 4 core >1GHz CPU phones be able to do both at the same time?

My phone != my computer (3, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about 2 years ago | (#41819637)

My phone won't become my computer because it's not about the CPU power. Hasn't been for ages now. The average phone already has more CPU power than the average desktop user makes use of. It's more about:

  • Memory. My computer has something like 16x as much RAM as my phone, which means it can run a lot more stuff simultaneously. It can run all those system-tray programs, without breaking a sweat. But RAM means power, and putting 8GB of RAM into a phone increases the power draw (modern memory requires not just constant power but constant refresh access) and decreases the battery life.
  • Size. My computer has 2 27" monitors on it, making for a lot more screen real-estate to work on. And I need it when I'm simultaneously writing a document, referring to a spreadsheet, several e-mail messages and a couple of Web sites, keeping track of a couple of IM conversations, and let's not forget Visual Studio with a dozen files open in it. You can't have that kind of screen space on a phone, you're physically limited by the size that can be conveniently held in one hand.
  • Peripherals. I mentioned monitors. There's also my good Model M keyboard (you don't appreciate a good keyboard unless you're working in a job where you're typing nearly constantly for hours on end), the high-end mouse, the small input tablet, the good 5.1 speaker set for the music, the scanner for getting paper documents into electronic form... You can't attach all that to a phone in any useful way.
  • Portability. Yes you can solve all the shortcomings of a phone with a dock and attached peripherals, but why? By the time you're done, you've removed the things you wanted from a phone: the ability to carry it in one hand, and to not have it tied down with wires. We're seeing with Win8 what the downsides are of trying to design a system for both phone/tablet and desktop uses, and you end up not being satisfactory for either so the idea of grabbing the phone out of the dock and going ends up hamstrung by that.
  • Price. One reason desktops are cheap is that they can use commodity parts and have enough open space in the case that they don't have to worry about power so much. Phones are almost 100% custom-built with a lot of work going in to designing parts that can be packed into that small a package with no ventilation at all in 100-degree ambient heat and not incinerate themselves. They're going to inevitably be more expensive than a desktop just because of that. And while Microsoft may be willing to hemorrhage money on hardware because it supports other revenue streams, phone manufacturers can't.

So while more cores may help phones do phone-like things better, especially combined with nifty ideas like Google Glass, but it's not going to help the phone replace my desktop.

Re:My phone != my computer (1)

oic0 (1864384) | about 2 years ago | (#41819947)

As an owner of a phone with 2GB of RAM, I think the RAM thing is covered.

Re:My phone != my computer (1)

aicrules (819392) | about 2 years ago | (#41820045)

I really don't mind that they keep trying to add different new and improved widgets to every gadget we have. They clearly don't have a foolproof way to truly understand how something would be useful to an end user without stumbling on it anyway. I see some of the things they do in SciFi (minority report for example) as someone trying to take a stab at what people will want to do/benefit from in the not to distant future. While some of it ends up being mimicked in reality, that often results in the realization that while it looked cool, no one finds it useful and it dies out. However, I am fine with them doing this. The creative process for making ground breaking advancements is often trial and error, and a lot of times the advancements come in a form different than the original idea intended. If they want to push the envelop with this vague notion of "being able to do all the things we couldn't do now due to low processing power" then by all means...go go go!

Speed? (2)

CCarrot (1562079) | about 2 years ago | (#41819639)

Sure, but how *fast* would these micro-cores run? Will we wind up with a single core not being able to handle anything on it's own?

Plus, adding more cores for shared tasks increases the management overhead. It's like a project: more resources can help get the job done faster...if they're properly co-ordinated, communicating properly, and everyone isn't waiting for one particular resource to finish it's task before the others can proceed. All of this takes significant overhead time IRL, I can't imagine it would be much different for flocks of cores...

I can see this allowing more simultaneous processes to run without bumping into one another, but basic speed for each process might go way, way down.

Re:Speed? (1)

arctus (2753027) | about 2 years ago | (#41819831)

This is kinda what I was thinking. I don't know enough about low level hardware interaction to answer this, but I would think its logical to assume trade-offs.

I mean, could we really increase the number of cores, increase performance, and lower battery life all at once (lets assume battery technology stays the same for ten years and remains constant even though it wont)?

I was thinking adding cores would do little in raw performance other than making the phone more adaptable to different use cases (multi-processing certain apps/services) and better at doing nothing more efficiently (idle). But like I said, not a hardware guy. I would like to know how a chip with 48 cores compares to a chip with say 16 cores in terms of benchmarks. Surely with more cores each core is less powerful right?

Re:Speed? (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | about 2 years ago | (#41820099)

I would like to know how a chip with 48 cores compares to a chip with say 16 cores in terms of benchmarks. Surely with more cores each core is less powerful right?

I would think it would have to, unless we radically improve thermal dissipation technology first...or unless we find a way to break the first law of thermodynamics.

Hmmm...now that would be interesting, what if we developed a way to allow the heat generated by the core to help power the processor? Something like wrapping them in these nano-antennae solar panels [cleanenergyauthority.com] , so the infrared wavelengths of generated heat directly produces electrical charge -> battery -> processor? Very interesting...and I could see it being possible, in 5-10 years. Sure. We're pretty bright little monkeys, and we do love our toys :)

It's called "GPU" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819651)

GPUs already have many cores and already deal with the problems which result from massively parallel computing. The Intel guys just need to get over themselves and buy NVidia and not have us wait 10 years for their own stuff.

ownership (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41819673)

The phone would be smart enough to not just be a computer but it could be my computer.

As trends continue it will not be "my computer" it'll remain my service provider's computer which they graciously let me use a small fraction of its capabilities for a monthly fee.

One thing for a phone-sized device (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | about 2 years ago | (#41819733)

While on the surface it may seem that "Big Brother" (or the competition, or China - assuming that they're not one and the same) is less likely to have his nose in your PC given that the intent of a phone is to maintain external communications links, one would do well to remember that those teeny commo chips that fit onto a phone's dinky mobo would fit onto a massive PC mobo, too. Which is something that has probably occurred to anybody who remembers the Tandy 1000 TX - and so remembers anonymous custom chips.

Which brings me to my point: It is a lot easier to build a Faraday cage for a phone-sized device to make sure that it truly is firewalled off...so a phone-sized PC with true computational power - assuming sufficient storage (and, ideally, a means of accessing external dumb storage) - is progress.

(Yeah, I know: Paranoia, extraordinaire. lollll...but if you'd had the jobs I've had...)

Multiple uses, great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819793)

While moving around you use only one or two cores at ultra low power, but when you reach your desk you plug into that little connector or just put your phone on that special pad and you can do real work. Neat.

Dedicated 64-bit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819807)

I did design a 64-bit processor and it's more cleaner than those Intel's things.

It's designed for main programming languages where their speed is to extreme: C, Fortran,C++, Pascal, Modula-2, Java, OCaml, GHC, etc.

Its model is dedicated to beowulf clusters of SMP computers.

jcpm: i don't offer more details of my design, end.

Ten years, really?! (1)

cavok (154569) | about 2 years ago | (#41819837)

Adapteva looks quite ready now.

So when you lose your personal computer? (1)

oic0 (1864384) | about 2 years ago | (#41819905)

Being able to carry your entire computer in your pocket and use it all day long is great, until you lose it lol. Unless of course this whole cloud thing actually catches on and carriers stop raping consumers on data prices.

Really Intel? (2)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about 2 years ago | (#41819909)

I'm still waiting for the 80-core PC.

How about realizing one of your predictions before creating another. You never achieved an 80-core PC and barely made a dent into the mobile CPU market so don't bother predicting anything for the mobile market until you are player.

Also Intel, its time to change your architecture. Packing in billions of transistors into a core to support legacy instructions is not an efficient design anymore. I don't want 4, 48 or 80 cores with defunct MMX and obsolete x86 instructions. Stop making CPU's where every core contains the entire history of Intel.

Re:Really Intel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819989)

One BILLION-core where each core is justly one transistor (a mosfet).

Are you saying me that Intel can't it?

intel-lectual propaganda (2)

Funk_dat69 (215898) | about 2 years ago | (#41819921)

Intel like to throw claims like this out there to try and win mind-share.
It means nothing, but sounds impressive in a vague, buzz-wordy way. It's just marketing.

I'm not surprised their vague future predictions are aimed at mobile now. They desperately need mind-share in that segment.

"Look! We're relavent in mobile! We'll have FORTY-EIGHT cores! All with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads!"

yesterday's arguement (1)

Frontier Owner (2616587) | about 2 years ago | (#41819923)

Yesterday, we discussed how the M$ surface couldn't do everything as well as dedicated devices. why would more cores change that argument? You are now sucking down more power. bigger or higher capacity batteries. screen sized tradeoffs, input device tradeoffs and to get around these you get the same junk to carry around now except you run you phone dead surfing the web when you really need your GPS to get you to see the client or the PHONE to tell him you're going to be late because your GPS is dead.

Divide and Conquer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41819997)

So instead of say 1 core, running at 1.2Ghz, will we have 48 cores, each running at 25Mhz?

Deja vu? (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | about 2 years ago | (#41820067)

I'm pretty sure that if you told someone 10 years ago we'd have quad core processors running at over 1GHz with loads of graphics, ram, etc on a smart mobile phone, they'd think why can't you use it as your main computer? In 5-10 years by the time this 48 core would be feasible, desktop computing will have grown/changed as well. I'm not sure our mobile devices will ever be our main computers. A link to them perhaps, but its far easier to offload the work to a remote station than do it all onboard.
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