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Cellphones Handhelds Technology

Dual-Core CPU Opens Door To 1080p On Smartphones 314

Posted by timothy
from the you'll-need-retina-display-mk2 dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Following Qualcomm, Samsung is also close to launching a new smartphone processor with two cores. Based on ARM architecture, the new Orion processor promises five times the graphics performance of current chips and to enable 1080p video recording and playback. Next year, it seems, dual-core smart phones will be all the rage. Apple, which is generally believed to have the most capable processor in the market today, may be under pressure to roll out a dual-core iPhone next year as well."
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Dual-Core CPU Opens Door To 1080p On Smartphones

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  • by angry tapir (1463043) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @02:28AM (#33505798) Homepage
    LG's new Optimus line will include smartphones running on Nvidia's Tegra 2 dual-core chips [goodgearguide.com.au].
  • by amRadioHed (463061) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @02:29AM (#33505802)

    It seems they are talking about recording 1080p, not viewing 1080p. You don't have to view your recorded videos on the phone.

  • by stephanruby (542433) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @02:46AM (#33505886)

    Apple, which is generally believed to have the most capable processor in the market today, may be under pressure to roll out a dual-core iPhone next year as well.

    This is silly. Apple is using Samsung's processor, an OEM version of the Hummingbird (which is not exclusively sold to Apple by any means). So if anyone has "the most capable [mobile] processor in the market today" (and even that statement could be debated), it's Samsung (certainly not Apple).

  • by Slur (61510) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @02:51AM (#33505906) Homepage Journal

    iPhone 4, iPod Touch gen.4, iPad, and Apple TV gen.2 all use the Apple A4 processor, which is an ARM+GPU manufactured by Samsung.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @02:55AM (#33505922)

    Maintain the Reality Distortion Field.

  • by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @03:10AM (#33505964)

    I have a hard time understanding how 1080p is such a great feature on screens 4" or smaller in diameter.

    The feature is important for 1080p output, combined with HDMI makes a phone compatible with most projectors, LCD/LED TV's and modern monitors. I can easily see myself walking in and displaying a video or presentation stored on my phone. Ideal for impromptu sales pitches or just bringing a movie over to a friends place.

  • Re:hm (Score:3, Informative)

    by peppepz (1311345) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @03:21AM (#33506018)
    You can play the content over HDMI. All new high-end phones have a HDMI output.
  • Re:Killer feature. (Score:5, Informative)

    by bemymonkey (1244086) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @03:22AM (#33506024)

    Battery life is fine if you keep the screen off. I get a standby power draw of roughly 5mA on average on my Desire. That works out to about 280h of standby time, and that's with a bunch of always-connected applications (Google Sync always active, an IM client, SIP client) in the background, and WiFi and Bluetooth on. Turn all that stuff off and I get values more around 3mA... 466h.

    Obviously a screen that draws almost 100x as much (seriously, at full power the AMOLED screen draws close to 300mA!) is going to kill off the battery very quickly.

    In comparison, the SoC uses very little power (full CPU load on the Desire's Snapdragon is 40mA higher than idle - tested with SetCPU's stress test) and scales very well with load. If you really want to increase use time, build more efficient screens... fuck the processor.

  • by teh31337one (1590023) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @03:39AM (#33506082)

    A4 has a PowerVR SGX535 GPU, which can push 28 million triangles/sec whilst the Galaxy S has a PowerVR SGX540 GPU that pushes 90 million triangles/sec.

    http://bit.ly/bM3JeK [bit.ly] note: the article lists iPhone 3gs at 7 million triangles/sec with 28m deleted, but IIRC it's actually the other way around. (7m rumoured, but it was actually 28m)

  • Misleading Headline? (Score:5, Informative)

    by GaneshAnandTech (1896204) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @03:39AM (#33506090) Homepage
    Unfortunately, the dual core CPU has got almost nothing to do with the 1080p encode or decode. These are handled by dedicated IPs (pre-designed blocks which are slotted into the chip) from companies like Imagination Technologies and Chips & Media. They would work as well with an single core Cortex-A8 as they do with the Cortex-A9.
  • by janisozaur (1465907) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @05:33AM (#33506596)
    Doesn't it have two separate cores? One 67.028 MHz ARM946E-S and one 33.514 MHz ARM7TDMI [wikipedia.org]
  • Re:Apple? (Score:3, Informative)

    by dropadrop (1057046) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @06:33AM (#33506766)

    My guess is that the guy who wrote that pcworld article has not actually programmed for the iPhone. The article makes a big deal of the programmer having to do something about adding multitasking to their applications, but from what I've gathered from a few colleagues who have made some iPhone apps (some very popular) it actually requires an extremely small amount of work. By Wikipedias definition of multitasking the iPhone does multi-task, though I've noticed a lot of people trying to redefine the term lately. :D

    I'm not a big fan of the way the iPhone multitasks, but then again I previously only missed multitasking for things like Skype or IRC which are next to useless without the ability to run them in the background, and GPS apps which would shut down when a phone call came. I can say that multitasking on the iPhone is much smoother then it used to be on my previous Nokia phone, because that would just keep silently killing the background apps due to lack of memory (for example opening email and a big web site in the browser would suffice for this effect).

  • Re:Okay then (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @08:19AM (#33507196) Journal

    Smartphones have been multicore for at least ten years. The early ones had two separate CPU cores, one for the application stack and one for the phone stack. One of the design requirements for the Symbian EXA2 kernel was that it should have a hard realtime nanokernel that could run both as completely independent software stacks on the same CPU core, cutting costs.

    Even when they then only had one ARM core, the SoCs were heterogeneous multicore chips. Something like TI's OMAP3530, found in a lot of devices, has a CPU core, a GPU core, a DSP core, and a couple of other specialised cores.

    That's why the headline here is quite misleading. Doing 1080p H.264 decoding on a pair of 1GHz Cortex A9 cores might be possible, but it seems very unlikely. Chips from the last generation, however, could all do 720p H.264 decoding on the DSP and / or GPU cores. This is not a chip that has enough processing power in the ARM cores to decode 1080p video, it is a chip that has two ARM cores and also, independently, has enough processing power to decode 1080p H.264 streams.

    This part of TFA made me laugh:

    Apple’s A4 processor, which is based on an ARM Cortex-A8 design, has been generally described as the most capable chip combination in the smartphone landscape today

    I don't know who these people are, but I suspect that they are ignorant Apple fanboys. The thing that makes the A4 interesting is that it removes a lot of stuff that most ARM SoCs ship with, because Apple didn't need them. Photos of the die indicate that the A8 core (the same core that everyone else has been using for a year or two) is a stock part, unlike, for example, the Snapdragon which is very heavily tweaked (new floating point pipelines and so on).

  • Re:hm (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @08:29AM (#33507242) Journal

    The N900 comes with 32GB of Flash built in, so it's enough for an episode of a TV show at 1080p by your metrics. I think you're talking nonsense though. BluRay disks store 25GB per side. If your assessment were accurate then this would be enough for 2 hours on a dual-layer disk, one hour on a single-layer disk. Given that most BluRay movies come on single-layer disks and don't take up the entire layer, and that TV stations use less bandwidth than BluRay, I wonder where you are getting this '1080p that is not compressed to oblivion' from, because it's certainly not any existing source.

    For reference, the maximum AV bitrate of BluRay is 48Mb/s, giving 21GB/hour. For HD-DVD, it was 36Mb/s, giving 16.2GB/hour. In practice, most films are encoded at a lower quality, often as low as 10GB/hour. By the time that these make it into phones, they are likely to have at least 64GB of flash in the higher end.

  • by iJed (594606) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @08:37AM (#33507288) Homepage
    The last iPhone to have an ARM 11 was the 3G. They have been Cortex A8 based since the 3GS.
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @09:02AM (#33507440) Journal
    Nope. ARM11 is ARM's two-generations-ago, implementing the ARMv6 instruction set (confused yet?). The iPhone, like pretty much every other high-end smartphone, uses the Cortex A8 core, which replaced the ARM11 at the top end. ARM11 is used for cheaper devices - Samsung sells a lot of them, because they are much cheaper than the A8. The iPhone uses Apple's A4 chip, manufactured by Samsung, which uses an unmodified Cortex A8 core and a small number of other components. The only thing that makes the A4 interesting is that it omits a lot of hardware that most A8 SoCs include (stuff that Apple didn't need). This made it cheaper to manufacture, and may have slightly reduced power consumption, but it definitely doesn't make it the most capable processor. Quite the reverse, in fact.
  • Re:Apple? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Karlt1 (231423) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @09:57AM (#33507914)

    So what you're saying is that you want to pay your hard earned money for a PC that the developers will actively seek to prevent you from gaining root access on,

    http://www.androidguys.com/2010/08/08/google-removes-easy-root-android-market/ [androidguys.com]

    who's apps can only come from one place

    http://www.androidguys.com/2010/06/29/att-explains-opt-android-market/ [androidguys.com]

    (if those android game devs were deveoping on apple's platform they'd be SOL. On android they're free to set up their own market, distribute without a marketplace app or use one of the other marketplaces that already exists). And I've certainly heard enough horror stories about the review process to turn me off from ever trying to sell anything on the iphone.

    http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2010/01/apple-responsible-for-994-of-mobile-app-sales-in-2009.ars [arstechnica.com]
    http://larvalabs.com/blog/android/android-market-payouts-total-2-of-app-stores-1b/ [larvalabs.com]

  • Re:Apple? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nursie (632944) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @11:39AM (#33509064)

    I've heard that the iPhone does the kill behaviour too.

    Not to come across as too Fanboi-ish, but the N900 does it marvellously. Next step - Nokia, please make a slimmer,prettier Maemo/Meego phone? Please?

  • by yabos (719499) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @11:44AM (#33509110)
    The iOS SDK has Grand Central Dispatch, which is Apple's easy way of dispatching and managing multiple threads. If you program your application with these APIs, as soon as a dual core iPhone comes out your application will take advantage of the 2nd core.

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