Samsung scoffs at quad-core, dials it up to 8 cores

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Will our insatiable need for incredible graphics and demanding applications from a tablet or mobile phone ever be fulfilled? It’s hard to say, but Samsung’s newest processor core the Exynos 5 Octa, is determined to try. The company showed off an 8-core application processor Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which uses a combination of fast ARM Cortex A15 cores and lower-performance ARM Cortex-A7 cores to deliver raw power.

The combination of the different sized cores has been common on mobile architectures all the way back when Texas Instruments was a big player. Several early application processors used 800 Mhz cores for the heavy lifting and a smaller, 400 Mhz powered core for lighter loads. When the core wasn’t in use it was turned off to save on power. But in 2010 dual-core phones that used symmetrical processing became common and now, this year we’re seeing more quad-core systems on a chip, such as those from Qualcomm and Nvidia.

The ARM-15 cores can clock up to 2.5 GHz, so depending on the design decisions Samsung has taken, we’re looking at some serious performance possibilities. The Cortex A-7 can clock up to 1.2 Ghz per core, which isn’t exactly low-end.

To be fair this level of performance isn’t only for tablets. Companies can put these applications processors into cars, set-top-boxes and any number of devices that could possibly use eight cores.

But the Exynos 5 Octa still has the whiff of a stunt about it. No word yet on where this gargantuan system on a chip is in the production cycle and when it might make it into real devices.

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