Intel Working On 48-Core Processors For Mobile Devices

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Intel 48-core chip for smart phones

 Mobile Tech
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. Today, some small mobile devices use multi-core chips. However, those multi-cores might be dual- or quad-core CPUs working with a few GPUs. Having a 48-core chip in a small mobile device would open up a whole new world of possibilities.
Justin Rattner, Intel's CTO, has told Computerworld that a 48-core chip for small mobile devices could hit the market "much sooner" than the researchers' 10-year prediction. —In as little as five years, according to some analysts, your smart phone or tablet could handle all of the tasks of today's best desktop PC's and a lot more.

Rattner claims that functions such as speech recognition and augmented reality will push the need for more computational power.

"I think the desire to move to more natural interfaces to make the interaction much more human-like is really going to drive the computational requirements," he said. "Having large numbers of cores to generate very high performance levels is the most energy efficient way to deliver those performance levels."

Going forward, software developers will need to be aware of multii-core technology so that their applications can make best use of the hardware.

"There aren't many apps now to light up eight cores, let alone lighting up 48," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. "Even on the PC now, it's really unusual in an 8-core machine to light up more than six cores. Writing for massive multi-core... Well, we haven't even really started to do that yet."

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said there simply is never a shortage of demand for processing power.

And in 10 years, when a 48-core smartphone or tablet chip could be ready for market, devices likely will be in need of that boost.

"I suspect in 10 years, the devices we carry will be continually using any information available to them to make better decisions," said Kerravala. "So a continuous stream of location, identity, ad-driven information and presence status will all continually be calculated to help us do the stuff we do better and faster. And I would think you'll need multi-core to do that in 10 years. Whether it's 36 or 48, who knows."

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights and Strategy has also projected that with that many cores and smarter software, our smart phones could someday be our main computers.

"My one compute device is in my hand and when I walk into my office, it automatically and wireless connects to my 30-inch display," he explained. "I have touch, a keybord, a mouse and voice to interact with it... It changes the whole concept of what it is and what it can do."