ARM, Android far behind x86 when it comes to multi-threaded optimizations
- Intel's Mike Bell: “The way it’s implemented right now, Android does not make as effective use of multiple cores as it could,” Bell told The Inquirer. “I think — frankly — some of this work could be done by the vendors who create the SoCs, but they just haven’t bothered to do it.”
- ExtremeTech: The kind of ultra-low-level optimizations Bell is discussing aren’t something Google can build for each and every device manufacturer — they depend on the specifics of the SoC and, in theory, would be custom built by the relevant OEM. Relying on Google may have worked to date, but it’s unlikely to be effective for much longer.
- ExtremeTech: These type of optimizations become more important as core counts increase. It can be more power-efficient to use four slow cores rather than two fast ones, but only if the OS is efficient enough to leverage all four threads. If it isn’t, the consumer gets a slower device with worse battery life.
- ExtremeTech: More than anything, Intel’s comments are a sign that the company is deadly serious about matching and exceeding its competitors. Medfield demonstrated Intel’s commitment on hardware, but discussions of low-level software optimizations are a different animal. To date, other OEMs have gotten away with limited software customization thanks to ARM and Google. Everything we’ve seen to date suggests that Cortex-A15 and 28nm are the last low-hanging fruit vendors will see for several years. With Intel planning dual-core Clover Trail tablets for later this year and a 22nm Silvermont refresh dropping in 2013, the various ARM vendors will need to look to such optimizations to continue competing effectively.
My thoughts: - Apple doesn't figure in this because this is ARM-Android - Apple probably does very efficient optimizations since it has its proprietary ARM chips but can it keep up with Intel in terms of chip development, optimization, and foundry-based manufacturing? That is a "make-or-buy" question Apple needs to address. - Coming back to Android, Tablets and dual-core Smartphones can be a great market for Intel. Tablets will likely be dual or multi-core in future, so Intel will have an absolute advantage there. - For Google, this will eliminate or vastly mitigate the fragmentation issue they have been having. This will help them further in their fight against Apple devices. - Looks like Intel has a good chance of growing Android-x86 and creating GoogTel!
> Yes, the winners will design their own ARM-64 CPUs and break free of cores from ARMH...
And that would be nVidia...? Would there be other ARM-64 vendors or just nVidia?
If I were Google, will I work with each one of them to support and optimize on their platforms?
If I were Google, given that Medfield seems to have rough power parity with ARM already, why would I not work with the largest semiconductor manufacturer with the latest 22nm process (with line of sight up to 5nm) and an army of optimization experts? With further advantages of range of processors, avoiding fragmentation, proven track record of backward compatibility, etc.
If Google doesn't leverage Motorola Mobility to go for a full range of devices on x86, I will be very surprised.