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Asus Transformer Drops Quad-core In Favor of Dual-core 207

MrSeb writes with this news from Extreme Tech: "In a move that will shock and disgust bleeding-edge technophiles everywhere, Asus has announced at Mobile World Congress 2012 that its new Transformer Pads — the high-end Infinity Series — will use the recently-announced dual-core Qualcomm S4 SoC. The critically acclaimed Transformer Prime, the Infinity Series' predecessor which was released at the end of 2011, used the quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3. Why the sudden about-face? Well, the fact that quad-core processors don't really have a use case in mobile devices is one reason — but it doesn't hurt that the Krait cores in the S4 are significantly faster than the four Cortex-A9 cores in the Tegra 3, too. The S4 is also the first 28nm SoC, while Tegra 3 is still on 40nm, which means a smaller and cheaper package, and lower power consumption to boot. The S4 is also the first SoC with built-in LTE, which was probably a rather nice sweetener for Asus." The Snapdragon S4 "Krait" CPU is still a bit shrouded in mystery as far as hard specs (Qualcomm has never been one to release docs), but it appears to be similar to the Cortex-A15 in performance; how they stand up to Intel's new Medfield designs remains to be seen.
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Asus Transformer Drops Quad-core In Favor of Dual-core

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  • by Elrond, Duke of URL ( 2657 ) <> on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @06:50AM (#39183495) Homepage

    The whole "core" obsession on mobile devices seems to be nothing but marketing talk. At least, as far as I have been able to determine.

    I have a Droid 3 which has a dual-core CPU and using System Tuner I found that the second core was always shown as "offline". Doing some research online I found that the second core is kept offline to preserve battery life. Supposedly, it only comes online if the load is particularly high.

    But, no matter what I did on the phone, I could never get the second core to come online. Using one of the tweaks available in System Tuner, I can apparently force both cores to be online all the time. However, the second core is still shown as offline and I still can't seem to get it to come online via high usage. Also, battery life doesn't seem to have changed.

    So, this wonderful second core seems to be entirely useless and nothing but an item for the marketing checklist on the advertisements.


  • The reason is LTE (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sollord ( 888521 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @07:33AM (#39183643)

    The Tegra3 isn't compatible with any LTE modems and won't be for several months so ASUS opted to use the S4 for all 3g/4g transformers so they could have something for carriers to sell nowish. The Wifi only models will keep using the Tegra3. Either way this isn't really something ASUS can fix itself since Nvidia never bothered getting its product to support any LTE modems.

  • by AlienIntelligence ( 1184493 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @07:35AM (#39183657)

    First HTC suddenly drops its quad core chip for a dual in a phone that
    was supposed to have a quad core chip since it was leaked back in July.

    And days later, Asus drops a quad in favor of a dual core.

    Same chip was dropped.

    Someone... is keeping a secret. There is a problem with the quad core
    chip and 'something' new(er) that is appearing in the phones. I read that
    an LTE chip appeared in the "One X", while the quad core disappeared.

    Is LTE and quad core not playing nice? Are there production shortages?
    Overheating issues, battery issues?

    The whole story isn't out. I'm curious what it is. I've been waiting
    and salivating at the promised "Quad" core offerings for smartphones.
    The Samsung SIII is supposedly going to have one, but from a different
    company, their own Exynos chip. So, we won't see that quad be cut in half.


    Regardless of what the non-power users say about not needing more cores,
    I see my dual cores maxed out regularly. I need the extras, I was willing to
    sell my life, I mean soul, I mean sign a new 2 year contract for it.


  • by fast turtle ( 1118037 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @12:21PM (#39185907) Journal

    The problem is, the Tegra does not have an LTE radio/modem on the SoC. This means it's a seperate chip and the current chips do not pla nicely with the Tegra. Qualcomn has pulled a major upset with their new design as the SnapDragon is faster, uses less power and includes the needed LTE radio on the die. The only area where the Qualcomn offering sucks tits on a worm is graphics as the Tegra beats the hell out of it like a red headed step-child but that's the only thing it wins.

  • by 21mhz ( 443080 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @02:52PM (#39187767) Journal

    Personally I want my phone to be successfully streaming media from the 'net, playing it through my bluetooth headset,

    Unless HD video is involved, all this should not take a large share of scheduling slots on a reasonably good smartphone CPU. It worked on Nokia N800 with plenty of cycles to spare.

    waiting for inbound calls

    This is what the modem unit is supposed to busy itself with.

    Given the web page rendering can max out a single core all by itself, how were you planning to avoid stuttering audio, interrupted audio feeds or missed calls?

    By boosting the audio service process' priority, the way it's done in all modern operating systems? Note that it does not take much processing time to feed the audio sink with buffers, it just has to be done on time.

    An incoming call should suspend all media playback and put the active application to the background, naturally. If your phone software does not do it, you got bigger problems than a lack of cores.

    Sure, it _can_ be done - but it can be done better and quicker with multiple hardware threads.

    I'd put it as "it can be done with more slack, and the warts will still show up at times". Certain popular devices seem to follow this design philosophy, indeed.

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