Beauty is as beauty does.
If the latest generation of phones are anything to go by, there’s certainly new truth in this old adage. Many of the most exciting mobile technologies all have one thing in common: quad-core CPUs. And believe me, they’re not that exciting to look at (just refer to the photo at the top for confirmation).
But, my oh my, could they be an incredible development for mobile users.
A few of the more exciting quad-core phones include the Samsung Galaxy S III rumored to arrive in April. And then there’s the darling of Mobile World Congress, the HTC One X and the many others showcased in Barcelona this year. For a round-up, check out Endgaget.
What’s in your iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy S II now? Dual Core.
What’s in your PC (or my PC anyway)? Quad-core. So phones are gonna be like very little PCs? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. They will be a little closer to PCs in their functionality.
Still, it sounds pretty good, eh?
What’s quad-core processing anyway, you ask? Good question. Well here’s the layman’s answer. Mostly we’re talking about chips. Specifically, the central processing unit (CPU). Previously we had single core processors, allowing us to run one application or process per chip concurrently. However with more “cores” on a chip, you can do more stuff at the same time, more quickly. Thus the advantage of four- or quad core technology.
Simple right? Well, not actually. There’s other elements required, including “software that can be parallelized.” This is pretty important if you want to do two things at once. The applications themselves need to be programmed such that they can run parallel with other apps.
But one aspect is simple. You should see a dramatic difference in performance with a quad-core phone. For one, it’ll improve performance for those “intensive multimedia applications” such as photo editing, video editing, facial recognition (waa!?) and of course-gaming.
Nvidia likes to talk about the incredible experience of gaming on Tegra 3-enabled devices. Apparently it’s visually stunning and “real-time physics” mean you can practically feel the wind and the spray as you go ‘water-skiing’ on your mobile phone. They even say players can add their own input, customizing the game itself.
And then of course the quad-core makes it easier to multitask. Do you want to check Facebook and upload that photo to Instagram all while listening to Spotify? Assuming all these apps can be programmed to play nicely with each other…well then, quad-core is your friend.
I’m not sure encouraging our addiction to multitasking is a good thing. This overwhelming need to be everywhere at once, sometimes makes me think, we are never fully anywhere at all. Still, multitasking is probably what defines this generation, and as a busy mother of two, I understand how it can be necessary to just get what needs to be done, done.
Personally, I’m tremendously excited at being able to navigate the mobile web as I do on my PC. Nvidia makes a big deal about how we’ll be able to do just that with “faster web page load time” and with multi-tabbed browsing. Apparently Chrome and Firefox are multi-threaded and “highly parallelizable,” which means they’re perfect for quad-core optimization.
This means, I could, in theory, move through the web on my phone, much as I do on my PC- with multiple tabs and with speed. (Or course, you do still have limited real estate on a smart phone. Here’s where we rely on clever and empathic user experience design.)
Nvidia says the quad does all this while using less power than its dual core technology, citing “workload sharing” and a “Variable Symmetric Multiprocessing” technology that uses a fifth “low power” core that handles some of the less demanding tasks, keeping the drain on your battery to minimum.
Another key to improved performance is of course- connectivity. And it’s still unclear if all quad-core phones will come packaged with 4G LTE.
The most talked about manufacturer right now is Nvidia. Others will also come forth with their own. (Qualcomm is releasing its quad-core Snapdragon in the near future) and still others are including their own quad-core technologies in their phone (Huawei).
Does make me wonder. What do you think Apple will be releasing in its iPhone 5? Hmmmm.