Intel: Other Android chip makers not using multi-core support well enough

Multi-core processors have been a big selling point for Android devices; we have seen dual-core chips running on the mobile OS for a little while and more recently we have seen quad-core processors running on smartphones such as the European version of the Samsung Galaxy S III.

Intel is finally starting to get its chips placed inside a few Android smartphones, but at the moment they are only of the single core variety. In a new article at TheInquirer.net, an Intel representative takes some shots at other chip makers, claiming they have not designed their multi-core hardware to work well enough on Android.

Mike Bell, the general manager of Intel's Mobile and Communications Group, states, "The way it's implemented right now, Android does not make as effective use of multiple cores as it could, and 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."

Most Android-based devices like smartphones and tablets run on chips based on ARM and they are made by companies such as Qualcomm, NVIDIA, Samsung and Texas Instruments. 

Source: TheInquirer.net

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Title of article is really misleading, as they are really complaining about Android being horrible at threading on multiple cores and aren't saying the other chip MFRs technology itself is the problem or horrible.

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Finally Bell claimed that Android doesn't make use of multi-core processors, something he thought other chip firms should work on sorting out alongside Intel. "The way it's implemented right now, Android does not make as effective use of multiple cores as it could, and 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."

Note the disdain is that nobody is fixing Android or optimizing it for multiple cores, and that everyone should work together with Intel to fix Android.

The problem though is to fix the problems with Android especially threading and process handing in the Dalvik engine, means that it would no longer be Android.

The whole Dalvik JVM would have to give up its OS management roles, the Linux services that normally handle these roles would have to be used.

Android is a horrible JVM sitting on a broken model. This is not something that is 'fixed'.

I'll have to stand by intel with this one. Other articles have more specifics, and Intel knows their stuff with multicore processors. Google on the other hand is still trying to learn how to write a solid operating system. Things as simple as a garbage collection scheduler is pretty poor on the android device (which is one of the causes for inconsistent performance). I'm sure they will iron things out when the market realizes that a smoother platform != higher end hardware.

ekw said,
I'll have to stand by intel with this one. Other articles have more specifics, and Intel knows their stuff with multicore processors. Google on the other hand is still trying to learn how to write a solid operating system. Things as simple as a garbage collection scheduler is pretty poor on the android device (which is one of the causes for inconsistent performance). I'm sure they will iron things out when the market realizes that a smoother platform != higher end hardware.

1) Intel does know their stuff; but only when it comes to their technology. Getting side tracked into other MFR technologies often will leave even their best engineers sputtering because of how differently things work and the ability to fully understand all these technologies is beyond a single person.

They also like to throw out dirt and hope some idiot like Paul Thurrott or other tech reporter will pick it up.

2) Google is NOT trying to learn how to write a solid OS. They bought and OS, and are learning how to keep it glued together and get others to make it work.

Google has directly been told and even given code on how fix a lot of things in Android's core model and failings. Their response ranges from 'not caring' to 'not understanding'.

Google does NOT have the world leading OS engineers. They really don't care that they don't either, as they just want a mechanism to collect information, which Android does well enough, and they get enough 'community' input so that it hasn't fully stagnated yet.

Android is a HORRIBLE OS model, and this is where Google don't care and even if they did, they can't fix it without destroying compatibility. Android bypasses a lot of the 'good things' of the Linux kernel and lets the Dalvik engine take on OS roles that it does poorly.

Google has locked themselves in a corner with Android, and this is why even 4.x, as hard as Google tried, cannot get GPU assisted UI rendering in the same class as Apple's iOS or Microsoft's WP7. This means that Android will NEVER have the fluid or instant response from touch to screen as iOS or WP7, let alone keep up with either in application performance.

This problem is bigger than just addressing multi-cores, Android 4.x on Quad core devices with 3-4x the RAM and 10x the GPU power still lags behind WP7 on a single core. There is a big problem when there is this big of a variation in OS technology.

Qualcomm themselves saw this when testing the Snapdragon performance, and using Android as their benchmarking OS. WP7 destroyed their benchmarking, and was showing 5 to 10 times the speed they were able to get out of their Android tests. OS differences should be in the 10-40% range, not in the 500-1000% range.

It was my understanding that only android 4.0 ICS had full dual and quad support, and that gingerbread either didn't or not very well. that was the explanation to me from t-mobile regarding my amaze 4g, and when ics did come out, it really really did speed up the phone considerably. (The boot is like 1/4th the time!)

Rudie32 said,
It was my understanding that only android 4.0 ICS had full dual and quad support, and that gingerbread either didn't or not very well. that was the explanation to me from t-mobile regarding my amaze 4g, and when ics did come out, it really really did speed up the phone considerably. (The boot is like 1/4th the time!)

This is my understanding as well. So if Intel did their "internal testing" on devices running Gingerbread or earlier (I don't see any mention of OS versions tested in the article) they are likely correct but ICS should have resolved this issue (as well as adding much needed hardware acceleration to the UI). Plus there are plenty of benchmarks that show obvious improvements and even if they were right and Android couldn't take advantage of multi-cores then Intels own Hyperthreading would be useless as well.

So basically Android sucks with multiple cores, wow that's brand new information. The so called "Linux" phone has nothing on a real Linux phone like Meego, I'm still curious if these Ubuntu phone rumours will hold true. If they do, it will really separate the true Linux fans from the Google fanboys trying to use the term "Linux" like some kind of magic word that somehow makes Android awesome... yeah, because Java is just soooo great!

Just like anything with Android, it's get it to the market and then improve it. Much the opposite of Apple (for the most part). The G-1 phone was OK when it came out but improvements were quick to follow. Give the devs time to tackle the next step.

And let's consider the source of the quote.

Not a surprise. Android multi-core support is driven largely by marketing and less on actual advantage for the user. Hence why they launched dual core chip phones before the OS could even handle them in any fashion.

Hopefully we'll see improvements in this regard soon.