February 8, 2011 | by Michael Heller
I know that some of you are a bit skeptical as to why one would need a quad-core processor in a tablet or other mobile device, but Texas Instruments has a pretty compelling reason: battery life. I bet you didn’t see that one coming did you?
TI had been the main provider of processors for Motorola devices until NVIDIA jumped in to supply the Tegra 2 for the upcoming Atrix, Bionic and Xoom. Now, TI wants to get the jump on quad-core technology, or at least the announcement of it. The most interesting thing about the OMAP5 processor design is that it will feature 2 cores for heavy lifting, and 2 cores for light processing work and system standby, which theoretically means some pretty impressive battery life.
TI claims the chipsets will feature 3x the performance of OMAP4 and 5x the 3D performance at 60% the power. It can support up to 4 simultaneous displays, so it could power that amazing concept phone we saw recently. Here’s a full breakdown of benefits compared to OMAP4:
|Two ARM Cortex-A15 cores, up to 2 GHz each||3x higher performance to deliver the promise of mobile computing|
|Two ARM Cortex-M4 cores||Low-power offload and real-time responsiveness|
|Multi-core 3D graphics and dedicated 2D graphics||5x higher graphics performance; accelerated and more responsive user interfaces|
|Multi-core imaging and vision processing unit||Next-generation computational photography experiences – face recognition, object recognition and text recognition|
|Multi-core IVA HD video engine||1080p60 HD video and high performance, low bit rate video teleconferencing|
|Advanced, multi-pipeline display sub-system||Supports multiple video/graphics sources for composition|
|Can support four simultaneous displays||Supports three high-resolution LCD displays (up to QSXGA) and HDMI 1.4a 3D display|
|High performance, multi-channel DRAM and efficient 2D memory support||Supports advanced use cases with multiple ARM cores and multimedia operation; provides better user experiences without lag or quality degradation|
|TI M-Shield™ mobile security technology with enhanced cryptography support||End-to-end device and content protection|
|New, high-speed interfaces||Supports USB 3.0 OTG, SATA 2.0, SDXC flash memory and MIPI® CSI-3, UniPort-M and LLI interfaces to support higher Wi-Fi and 4G network and HD content data rates|
|Optimized audio, power and battery management platform solutions||Complementary TI devices for an optimized OMAP 5 platform solution|
|Next-generation connectivity technologies||HD wireless video streaming, wireless display, mobile|
The only downside so far is that these processors aren’t likely to hit the market until next year, whereas the timetable on the Tegra quad-core CPUs looks to have those on the market by the holidays this year. It should be interesting to see how it all stacks up.