More than 60% of desktops and 95% of notebooks shipped in 2010 had two or fewer cores. Lots of market research says users are generally satisfied with the performance of their machines. So why on earth do we need quad-core gadgets like tablets and cell phones?
The answer: we don’t need quad cores. But the manufacturers are in a global, commodity race to the bottom where differentiation is hard to find. The technology is coming to market. So the product planners buckle under to the marketing suits and deliver quad cores.
As an analyst with considerable performance benchmark experience, I always have some small part of my brain thinking about performance when I use software apps or devices.
I think quad cores are a bad tradeoff for most users most of the time. The tradeoff is weight, memory, and battery life.
Driving quad cores instead of dual cores requires considerably more power, which depletes the battery. To keep the battery life the same, it must be bigger, weigh more, and cost more.
Unmentioned in any quad-core gadget discussion I have seen to date is software support. A symmetric multi-processing operating system which efficiently harnesses all four cores will require a considerable amount of new code, testing, and work by app developers. The code itself is available off the shelf in Linux/Unix, but shoe-horning server OS kernel code into a smartphone — efficiently — is no easy task. Also, it will eat up a lot more main memory, a rather precious commodity in gadgets.
Lastly, with knowledge that the gadget also has many cores dedicated to graphics and video processing, I beg the question: just what will these four cores be doing almost all the time?
Rather than quad cores looking for a job, I would be much happier with gadgets that used sophisticated thermal envelope management such as Intel’s Turbo Boost 2. Speeding up a couple of cores briefly, then shutting them down is an elegant way to deliver higher performance with good battery life.
Source: – PCWorld.